Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nuru Training in California

My teammates Karina (HR), Aerie (SME), Chris (Water Sanitation), and me (Education)

Hamjambo!! Habari gani? (Kiswahili for Hey y'all! Any News?

I'm back from training at Stanford and already miss the nice weather. The locals say it was unusually warm for this time of year, but I didn't mind. :) At Stanford we had a classroom at the (design school) where we were taught a creative process to design solutions. The main thing those at the taught us was to not jump to conclusions when getting to know your user. In this case, our users are those in extreme poverty. We had an activity that involved interviewing people, then role playing as if we were them, brainstorming what exactly it is that they need/want, and then brainstorming avenues to get to the solution. The encouraged us to think way out there and then hone in on the plausible ideas. Although my teammates and I weren't too keen on thinking up unrealistic solutions to get to the realistic ones, I feel like we learned some useful skills to efficiently help those in Kuria, Kenya.

Also while at Stanford, we had Kiswahili lessons every morning with Sanguai Mihochi, the brother of our colleague Philip in Kenya. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that that was the most comprehensive 8 days of language ever! For sure I will be looking over my notes for the next month, in preparation for getting to the site. Very few people in Kuria speak English, and even Swahili is hit or miss in the villages where I will be visiting. Swahili is not that hard of language as far as intricacy, like that of the French language or English (I still don't know all that is involved in the English language). However, the main thing is memorizing all new words and remembering the verbs that goes with each noun. I'm sure that with having foundation team 1 with us for a month will help turbo charge our Swahili.

While in California, although we had a ton of mind-saturating lessons, we managed to have some fun too. I left on Tuesday the 7th, and by the following Saturday we had moved from our hotel into the house of Billy's friend Amy. She owns a house adjacent to her father, but lives further north in the state. So she offered her 2 bedroom home to us for free. In addition to that financial save for Nuru, Chris, my teammate, asked his sister for her car for the 10 days, in which she cheerfully agreed. Thanks Jen and Amy! Besides all that, Amy's dad, Paul, was an amazing host, having us over his house several times. Paul even invited his friends over to hear all about Nuru. In the end, we had some new supporters.

Other fun tidbits: We had dinner with one of our board members, Don Fall, who is the director of Operations at Facebook; we went to lunch at the Google campus with Billy's friend Jared, which was amazing (if I only had the skill-set to work there!); we walked along Ocean Beach in San francisco; we went to a meet and greet in the city with alumni from Carnegie Mellon; and we went for an amazing hike friday, in which I even got slightly sunburned on my face.

Here are some pictures from the time there:

Nuru likes long walks on the beach

The night life

Flags to assist you walk across the street: something that would NEVER work in P.G. County

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Off to California

Happy new year! I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Well, I'm not finished with support raising, but I'm headed for Palo Alto, California for training. I'll be getting some training at Stanford for the next 2 weeks and will end the trip by hanging out with my old friend John, whose a worship leader in San Francisco. I'm looking forward to getting to know my teammates Aerie and Chris and also meeting more of my state-side colleagues who'll be working in San Francisco.

When I return from California on the 19th, I will go back to Morgantown to speak at a Rotary meeting in West Virginia, and to speak at a mission's night at Trinity Episcopal. During my time back in Morgantown, I will also be moving everything out of my house-- last August I didn't know I'd be moving again so soon.

I leave for Kenya on February 9th and will be there until August 8th. Please pray for safe travels. Thanks. I'll be keeping you all updating during training, along with pictures. I apologize for the delay in blogging and lack of exciting entries. :(