Tuesday, July 14, 2009


With a nearly desperate sense of isolation and a growing suspicion that I lived in an alien land, I took to the open road in search of places where change did not mean ruin and where time and men and deeds connected. ~ William Least Heat-Moon




One thing I like to do where I travel is find local honey.  (Although, I have yet to be able to accept the idea of palmetto bug honey that I saw at a shop in Gainesville. I don’t care what you say, they ARE roaches!) Honey is my latest excitement in Kenya! Because, not only is it local but also, you usually buy it from the person who made it! Sometimes I buy honey from the Kipepeo Project in Gede (which is a 10 min matatu ride south of me.) But, a few weeks ago, Charlotte (knowing about my fascination) bought me some honey from a man in Kilifi and, today, a teacher brought some to school to sell. These people don’t have labels made for their honey and they often use old soda bottles to send it home with you.  I’m in love!!!


The past few days I’ve had a few online and phone conversations with friends and family and I’ve realized that I should have a mini Kiswahili lesson for everyone so that if when I slip you’ll understand. I don’t know much but there are a few words that have found there way into all of my conversations and I really don’t know how I ever lived without them.


na – and


bado – not yet – “Kiswahili na Giriama bado”


bas – enough/that’s it/only – “I have one brother, bas.” (Almost always accompanied with the sign - even if I’m talking on the phone.)


sawa – okay – “I’ll meet you in an hour, sawa?”


I expect that by the time I come back to the US these should be catching on as slang…. So much better than “uber”!!!!!




Here’s a mix I threw together about a month ago for my dog. (Sometimes I just need to get out of my head.) I haven’t had time to confirm but according to itunes these are all Track 05 songs. That’s significant because my dog is named Fiver (after a rabbit in the book Watership Down by Richard Adams.) Future cover art will definitely include a frisbee.


Hi, Fiver


Details Of The War                              Clap Your Hands Say Yeah         

You're My Flame - Feat. Sia                   Zero 7

Capturing Moods                          Rilo Kiley   

i thought i saw your face today            she & him

Josephine                                            Teitur

Octopus’ Garden                         The Beatles

Pictures In An Exhibition                    Death Cab for Cutie

Saint Simon                                         The Shins

Paper Bag                                            Fiona Apple

Stealing Romance                                  Portastatic

days that are over                             Sondre Lerche

august                                                  Rilo Kiley

No Other Way                                       Jack Johnson

Lonely Lonely (Frisbee'd Mix)              Feist

Someday                                              Strokes

she sends kisses                           The Wrens

Sailor & Widow                                     Keren Ann

Unpersuaded                                        Moving Units

Teeth in the Grass                           Iron and Wine

Measuring Cups                            Andrew Bird 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Are S’mores in the syllabus?

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

~Oriah Mountain Dreamer


This week I’ve decided to throw out the syllabus!

I’ve come up with my ultimate goals for my 2 years of teaching. Everything I teach should:

1.     improve KSL conversational skills

2.     improve English vocabulary recognition

3.     be FUN!

So, we’ve been playing a lot of games this week.

During “Science” class the kids pair up, each team gets a card with 15 animals and they must match the animal name to the picture. I don’t really believe these children need to know what a platypus is but they love the game. After they’re through matching they get to draw the animals in their books and they always enjoy showing off their artistic skills.

For “English” class I use another game my mom sent me in which you pick a card and must decided the category it belongs in (Clothes, Furniture, Body Parts, Toys, Animals, Food.) I’ve altered Hangman slightly by actually signing the word and then they must guess the spelling.

In Maths (spelled correctly) class we do a lot of the normal problems out of the text book but I’ve also added games like (my favorite in Elementary school) “Around the World” with addition, subtraction, and multiplication and I’m planning on trying some logic games like Sudoku – my thoughts being that by discussing the logic and their reasoning with me the kids will improve KSL conversational skills.

In “Social Studies” today we looked at a new book about the world and I explained any picture my students asked about. My kids were appalled to learn that there is vessel in an Iranian temple that has been burning for over 3,000 years. I couldn’t get a clear answer as to why, but they decided that this was very bad. I made an Origami crane while looking at Japan. While looking at the page about Mexico I promised my kids we would try and make a piƱata. On the United States page there was a picture of an American family camping and I found myself promising I would try and teach everyone to make S’mores (there’s got to be marshmallows somewhere in Kenya.)

I’ve decided that I’m not really concerned whether these kids can write a grammatically correct sentence but I want them to be able to write basic sentences:

I like run. I run yesterday.

And, when they see a sentence:

Water will be off for the next 14 days.

They should be able to understand. (And, yeah, that sentence is true. I spent the last 2 hours filling every container and bottle that I have with water.)

So that’s my motivating week. Hopefully this will continue for a while!