Monthly Archives: July 2011

Let the Journey Begin

Well it is that time… The time when I finish packing my bags, take my last real shower for at least a month, charge both camera batteries and say my goodbyes to the ones I love, and you of course…

I’m due at the airport at 6:20 for my 8:20 to chicago at which point I will book it to the next gate for a plane to istanbul and then finally make my way to nairobi.

Still not completely sure what my project will entail but as soon as I do and am able to inform you I will.

Please, please, please keep me in your thoughts for at least the next few days while I’m in transit!

I can’t wait to talk to you again soon.


Not even there yet…

I had quite the scare today. As I was emailing the contact person with the company I’m going through to ensure someone would be at the airport at 1:20 AM Friday to pick me up, he emailed me to say that my program placement had to be changed due to unforeseeable circumstances. Well, it’s two days out and I was amped and ready to go to Maasai land. I was mentally prepared to live in a village for a month. While I’m sure living closer to the city would have its pros, it’s just not something I’m interested in doing. I’ve emailed the company to convey my disappointment and interest in remaining in Maasai land because of the grant I received to do research as well as my personal interests in the area; I’m still waiting to hear back from them.

And I’m not even there yet…

This time around…

I’m flying out July 27th to live in a Maasai village about an hour and a half south of Nairobi to teach at Kimuka Primary School. I’ll be in Kenya for right at a month, although it may seem a tad longer with no electricity or running water.

Thanks to the Rivers Institute at Hanover College, I received a grant that covered my flight, visa, and program costs. The Rivers Institute provides grants to students interested in doing research at home or abroad. I proposed to study the water crisis in Kenya from an anthropological context. After months of deliberation, I decided that my best bet was to volunteer while doing research; I would be able to find a program that would provide a place for me to stay as well as food, plus I wouldn’t be completely alone in a country I know very little about. The Maasai will be great for my research because they are one of the tribes most affected by global warming and the lack of water in the region.

Traditionally, the Maasai are a pastoral group whose wealth is dependent upon how many cows they have. Cows are meant to roam throughout the Great Rift Valley in search of water and food sources, but today those are limited because of climate change. It will be interesting to see how the Maasai have already been impacted and in what ways their culture has evolved due to the changes. Needless to say, I’m super pumped.

If you like to read and are in need of a good one check out The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior. Part ethnography, part auto-biography, the book provides an excellent glimpse into the life of the Maasai. There’s also a really great blog on here that tells stories from right around where I will be. Go here: and scroll down a tad and you’ll find it.

Things for you to Google: Maasai, Ngong Hills, Water Crisis in Kenya, Great Rift Valley, Pastoral groups


In Ghana they had a term for “returning to one’s roots,” and this was Sankofa. I can’t help but think with my upcoming trip to Kenya that I am in fact returning to my roots. 

While I grow more nervous by the day, I can’t help but become overwhelmed with excitement at all the experiences I will have. This time, my experience will be a rural one. Based at Kimuka in the Ngong Hills, I’ll be about an hour and thirty minutes south of Nairobi. From the Ngong Hills, or “knuckles,” in Swahili, I will be able to see Nairobi on one side and the Nairobi Game Reserve on the other. I’ll be in the heart of Maasailand. Some of Africa’s greatest warriors will be my neighbors and my caretakers. The Maasai are known for the bright fabrics, beaded adornments, and prowess of the Great Rift Valley. I can only hope that I master the art of milking a cow or spearing a lion during my months stay.

While my time will be plagued with no electricity or running water, I am eager for the opportunity to realize just how blessed I am. With little electricity it goes without saying that there will be no internet. However, I plan to keep you up to date somehow, even if I have to visit an internet cafe every once in a while, which I’ll have to do to charge my phone. I guess what I’m saying is, I would love for you to take this journey with me, from the comfort of your computer screen of course… To the right there’s an opportunity for you to enter your email address and subscribe. Being a subscriber will get you an email every time I post a new post. This is probably your best bet for staying informed because my posts will be haphazard.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I prayer. Take the coming week or so to look back at my posts from my time in Ghana. Come up with questions to which you want answers and I can do my best to seek answers while I am there, that will make it really interesting.

Up next: How I’m Going. What I’m Doing.

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!

Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.


Madison's renderings of teaching and learning