11/21/13 – This guest post is written by Doreen Mugure, a Kenyan student in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA Program, which requires two months of field work during the summer practicum experience.
Being a mother of two young girls, Imani and Aisha, and a GSSE MBA student comes with its own challenges – but this summer it also had some unexpected rewards. My girls are your typical All American girls; they love going to school, have a love-hate relationship with homework, are into fashion, sports and attending each other’s Halloween and birthday parties. I have always wanted my girls to be more connected with the Kenyan culture, but this has proven difficult living so far away from Kenya. Thanks to the GSSE summer practicum that took my team and I to Kenya and Zambia, Imani and Aisha got the opportunity to spend 2 months in Kenya, and boy was it an experience of a lifetime. Going on safari and visiting the beach and the mall made the girls realize that life in Kenya is not so different from their lives in America – but there was one different trip that I hope they will always remember.
Thanks to Steve Baroch of the Castle Rock Rotary club, my team was introduced to a Masai chief from Ngong’, Kenya. We were so impressed with the work Chief Joseph was doing in his village – building schools for young children in remote areas, allowing them to have access to formal education. One of my teammates and I took Imani and Aisha to Ngong’ to visit the Chief and his school. I tried to warn Aisha against wearing her stylish high heeled boots but she wanted to look ‘cute’ so I let it be. Keep in mind we were going to a remote area, no paved roads nor indoor plumbing. Upon our arrival to the school, the children, ranging from ages 4 to 8, were extremely welcoming and happy despite having to overcome difficult situations. They sang and danced and proudly recited the alphabet. My girls also sang the American version of the alphabet song and all the kids were surprised that both versions weren’t so different after all. We presented the kids with school supplies, and Chief Joseph with water filters and a laptop – yes, a laptop. It was unique indeed to picture the Chief in his traditional Masai outfit, on his laptop in his mud hut peering through the window at the giraffes and baboons roaming nearby.
As the sun set on the beautiful Ngong’ Hills while heading home, I could not help but reflect on the day and hoping my hope that my All-American children learned some life lessons. In the words of Aisha today, “there are kids out there who don’t have everything I have and they seem happy which makes me appreciate my life. Those kids are very smart and lucky to have a school that they can go to; oh yeah, and always listen to my mother when she says don’t wear high heeled boots”. I couldn’t have asked for better life lessons, all thanks to GSSE.