A Musician in Kenya - My Family Travels
Selfie from Hill Top Overlooking Vast Plains
At Kenyan Sister School

I’m no economist, no political expert, no social worker, no activist; I am and was a high school student with his mind-set to pursue music and science. Though aware of avoiding the naive thought that a small group with introductory books to playing the recorder was going to change the future of Kenya, this small charity to an adopted sister school in Kenya felt like an opportunity that I could not just let slip away. Yearning for an experience outside the iron dome of protection, I hadn’t the slightest inkling of what was to come.

The school trip started out as a delegation of students who would bring games and certain amenities as gifts. Tri-m music honor society caught wind of this and announced that they needed volunteers to attempt a kick-start music program with recorders, which I whole-heartedly jumped upon. In addition to visiting the school, we would be touring parts of Kenya by bus doing various activities to explore and become acquainted with the culture.

Upon arrival and throughout the trip, our eyes were filled with lush green rolling plains and zebra grazing along the road, which was then complemented by a backdrop of massively majestic hills jutting off in the distance. I still remember the red and orange that painted this marvelous landscape’s horizon as the twilight hours dawned on our long bus rides between destinations, and as if done on purpose, those horribly maintained roads made sure one was on edge enough to not miss a single moment.  

The people of Kenya equaled if not surpassed the geography. The Kenyan vibe was that of an unmatched energy, for the elections had just ended and a jubilant people had flooded the streets howling, dancing, laughing, and waving around everything within reach. Though, I was more worried about a rock breaking through the window due to the pandemonium in the streets as the bus rocked back and forth from the crowd.

Of all my experiences, being joyous about a successful election had never struck me; heck, I’m still learning about elections that occur stateside. It made me question all that I had taken for granted at home and during this trip. Really though, how many of those students ever had running water?  Ever enjoyed a bus ride let alone a safari ride? Had ever seen an IPhone?

It was one lesson, though, that truly made the distinction clear that I was foreigner. Butchering a chicken. How and why I still eat meat is a testament to the power of denial, but with a dull looking kitchen knife and a bucket of hot water, my friend stood on the wings as instructed as I towered over knife in hand. I just couldn’t do it at first, but the students told me that it was nothing; that they had all done it before. So, I took the knife. Put it to the neck…and… back and forth.  No thinking, just movement. Back and forth. 

Though it felt like I had committed an atrocity, it was obvious that in the students perspective I was preparing a meal of meat that they only saw once a week, if they were lucky. It was a sobering experience that gave a no BS lesson at point blank: no matter how much one may mentally organize and recognize his or her own naivety in a situation, nothing can be done to prepare for the unpredictable first hand experience. I asked for Kenya to expand my mind beyond a focused life of music and science, and I certainly received more than simple gratification for good service. 

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