Thursday, April 3, 2014

News from Nairobi

Elizabeth Evans poses for a photo with the parents of her field assistant Sarah O'kubasu as they share a meal during the rural visit.

By James Chege
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies
Editor: Father Michael C. Kirwen, Director

Second Semester Rural Visits

Toward the middle of every semester our immersion program students are encouraged to make an overnight visit to the rural homes of their field assistants. Often these visits involve travelling hundreds of kilometers from the capital city Nairobi and give the students a first-hand experience of public transport in Kenya, as well as traditional lifestyle and family life in a rural area.

Elizabeth, a U.S. citizen,  has lived in Africa since 1997 when she began mission work in Ndola, Zambia. She relocated to Kenya in September 2009 and now tutors international students in English and helps women living  with HIV and AIDS. She reported that the rural visit was very refreshing, as she had many eye-opening  conversations and interactions with her field assistant’s family. She plans to go back and spend more time with them at a later date.

The rural visits offers a great opportunity to do field research in a rural setting as opposed to the usual urban setting. This gives students a chance to compare and contrast the two cultural  environments.  Furthermore, this direct, personal participation in the urban and rural cultural life of the local people, through research and friendships, helps immensely in bringing about cultural fluency.