Jayhawks in Kenya

I am a KU (University of Kansas) alumni.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with college basketball, KU is a BIG basketball school.  KU basketball season officially started last night.

My little brother ran across my netbook today so I decided to seize the opportunity to educate a child about the magic and joy of KU basketball.

He had the BIGGEST smile on his face when he saw Jayhawk and Baby Jay in this video:

I also showed him a Rock Chalk chant video. As soon as he heard the chant and saw the people swaying…he started swaying and was all smiles.

Want to know what it’s like to be deaf? Go to a new country!

I have oftentimes been asked what it’s like to be deaf.  It’s hard for me to answer that question because I don’t know anything else.

Let me ask you, what is it like to be hearing?  Kind of hard to answer that question when you haven’t been deaf.

The closest comparison I have been able to come up with is to go to a different country where you’re not fluent in their language.  In many ways the frustrations that you would experience is what I experience on a daily basis.  In other ways it’s not the same.

However, a couple of situations this week  made me realize how much of what is new to fellow PCTs  is what I have always experienced on a daily basis.

Situation #1:

Attempting to communicate with host families who only speak Swahili or aren’t fluent in English has been challenging for some of the PCTs as well as myself.  However, I am more used to it because I have dealt with communication barriers almost everyday of my life.  People have mentioned they’re unsure and not as confident as to what’s going on.  This is how I feel sometime when I’m in a group of hearing people when they don’t sign.

Situation #2:

We had an activity yesterday where we were split up into 2 groups.  One group was supposed to be tourists who just arrived in a new country and wanted to know how to get around town.  The second group was supposed to be locals.  Some people in the second group had index cards taped to them and some didn’t.  I was in the tourist/foreigner group and was supposed to ask one person with an index card and one person without an index card how to get around town.

We weren’t told this until the end of the activity:  People with the index cards were supposed to just smile and say nothing.  People without the index cards could answer your questions and could repeat your questions.

I went up to one person with an index card and quickly figured out they weren’t supposed to answer us.  It was interesting to see how some of the other people who could hear kept trying to ask questions and were becoming a bit frustrated and uneasy because they weren’t sure why their questions weren’t being answered.

I then went up to a second person without an index card because I had seen her answer someone’s questions.  I signed to her not realizing she didn’t know any sign language (I felt really bad for putting her on the spot).  She wouldn’t answer my questions because she wasn’t sure how to communicate with me.

I found it fascinating that even though the outcomes of speaking with two people were supposed to be different…they were the same for me.  Person #1 didn’t answer my questions because I was a tourist/foreigner.  Person #2 didn’t answer my questions because of the communication barrier between hearing-deaf people.

I kind of wish we could have discussed this issue after the activity because after all we will be working with deaf children and teenagers.  I think it’s important for everyone to understand that how we’re feeling as foreigners in a new country is how deaf people feel on a daily basis.

First Saturday with Host Family!

I woke up around 7:30 am which was nice after having to get up at 6 am all week to help prepare breakfast.  We ate breakfast and then my host mom showed me how to cook our lunch.

We started a fire outside using straws, matches, newspaper, charcoal, and a circular cardboard.  The circular cardboard was used to wave air to help the charcoal heat up quicker.  Once the charcoal was ready we bought it inside where there’s a chimney in the kitchen.  We put a bowl of beans on top of it and let it cook for 5 hours.

After that I did laundry and had tea+ fruit.

Other than I’ve been trying to catch up on things and get ready for next week.

My host little brother watched some cartoon, did his homework, and played outside with his friends.  His friend came over to me while I was doing laundry and signed “good morning” to me in KSL.  A couple of the older kids from the school for the deaf also came over to say hi!


I finally got to do laundry today!  I was so excited about doing it for two reasons.

1) I haven’t been able to wash my clothes for almost 2 weeks (most of us haven’t been able to)

2) I got to learn how to do something different

I purchased a laundry soap bar the other day (you cut it up into 4-5  smaller bars, they’re not pre-cut).

My host mom taught me how to do laundry by hand.  You get several buckets/tubs and fill a couple with water.  You also separate whites/light from darks and wash them separately.

For example if I was to wash a blouse:

1) Put blouse into tub #1 with water.  The tub is filled with water from the kitchen faucet…garden hose from the kitchen window to the front.

2) Scrub the armpits and collar with soap

3) Wash the rest of the blouse by rubbing the blouse against itself

4) Put the soapy blouse into tub #2 which has water in it

5) Rinse the blouse

6) Put the blouse into tub #3 and rinse it again

7) Squeeze the blouse to get as much water out of it as you can then put it into tub #4

Then…hang clothes and let them dry!

I have no idea how wrinkled all my clothes will be, am hoping there will be an iron for me to use!

Kenya Shillings

A general rule is that $1 = 100 Kes (Kenyan Shilling).

A 300 mL Mountain Dew is 45 Kes

A plate of fries is usually 80 Kes (they serve fries with cabbage and carrots on top of it–similar to coleslaw and their ketchup is runny but sweeter).

A candy bar is around 100-145 Kes

Water bottles is around 50 Kes

A small notebook is about 65 Kes

A package of 100 index cards is around 165 Kes


There are some good restaurants in town.  Lately, I’ve been on a fries (sometimes called chips or roasted potatoes here) and Orange Fanta kick.

I’ve been enjoying drinking soda out of glass bottles with straws.

Restaurants are a bit more laid-back here.  Waiters/waitresses don’t serve tables in the order you arrive.  They don’t always have what the menu says they have.  They don’t always bring food to everyone at a table at the same time.

Even though restaurants are a bit more laid-back the service is still good and people are friendly.

None of my lunches have cost more than $2.  There are no taxes and no tipping.