Thoughts on change, movement

I’m playing catch-up to compensate for 3 months of no updates. A lot has happened in the worlds of work, play, travel, and research. Over the next few days I hope to add a few posts about my recent travels. I’m in Nairobi now, and next Friday I’m going to Kakuma, for the last time. I’ll be helping with a training for teachers in support of clubs and extra-curricular development, and another one for staff on qualitative data collection in preparation for our midline.

I’m enjoying my time here in Kenya, so much that I’ll be staying for two extra months.  In early January my boss asked me what plans I had for when I would arrive home in mid-February. I had none. I can’t start a new semester of school until May, and don’t have any job interviews lined up. She suggested an extension as the obvious answer, though this had never occurred to me as a possibility. After making a few logistical adjustments, I’m set to stay on with KEEP until April 15th.  I’m honoured that I’m considered to be of value to the project, and excited to have more time to travel within Kenya. I’m also pleased to have some extra time to conduct interviews in Kakuma for my research which, until recently, has lacked…direction. I’ll leave that to another post.

So of course I’ve been thinking about what I can do now that I’m staying. I now also have more time to think about leaving. Today would have been my date of departure. I’m glad it isn’t, because I still need to find closure with some relationships and experiences (both good and bad), and figure out how to say goodbye to people who have become a part of my life.

I’m sure I’ll be back in Kenya at some point in my life. If I came back in 10 years, I might not recognize Nairobi, as this city is constantly changing and growing so quickly. Then I think of Kakuma, which changes and remains constant in different ways. What is meant to be a temporary home for people who have escaped the most unthinkable atrocities, yet remains a permanent fixture in the region’s political and economic landscape. A place that’s imagined by some of its inhabitants to be a place of opportunity, and others as an open-air prison.  I wonder what it would be like for me to return to the camp in 10 years. I wonder if I’d find some of the same people stuck in the same situations they’re in now. I don’t mean to create an image of refugees as powerless or without any control over their lives; that’s not the case. What I’m trying to say is, that as I think more and more about leaving, I’m reminded of the privilege I have in my mobility.  To move from place to place, choosing to what extent I want to immerse myself in a place, or not.  And then moving on, taking with me the memories, lessons, and physical things I want to remember, and leaving behind what I don’t want. To not be stuck, but instead be able to create a sense of home in a place until I choose to move on.

The views expressed in this blog are entirely my own and do not represent the views or opinions of the World University Service of Canada, the Kenya Equity in Education Project, or Windle Trust Kenya.

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