The group just left Nanyuki – about 3.5 hours’ drive from the airport — and is on their way for tonight’s late departure to Amsterdam. Everyone is happy, healthy and full of mostly mixed emotions: happiness to see loved ones again soon, sadness to leave this place. I’m staying for another week for some follow-up to some of my research projects. Our co-leader, Karina, is with them.
A few thoughts to consider as our group heads home and will be greeted by all of you. They have experienced something in Samburu that will change them. The type and magnitude of those changes will vary from student to student, and may not be evident for weeks or months after we return. Be supportive and encouraging as they continue to process and reflect about the past 14 days. Samburu changed me in ways I could have never imagined when I first visited 10 years ago. I know that the students on this trip experienced something similar. Some of the best people I have ever met on this planet are in Samburu, people who walk more than a mile to fetch water and live on less than a few hundred dollars a year. But they smile and laugh abundantly, and they embrace a tremendous amount of hope for their families and their community. It reminds of us of what’s important in this world.
Ask for stories. Ask about people and culture. The wildlife are amazing but it’s the people that have affected us. “How was Kenya?” cant be easily answered. Describing day to day activities will be easy — what we did, food we ate, wildlife we saw, games we played. The stuff that affects the more central part of our core being and challenges what we previously believed to be true about the world, the stuff that inevitably causes us to re-examine our lives…well, be patient as they figure that out, and create the supportive space and time to talk about it with them. Listen, ask questions, listen, and listen more.
The initial flight is KLM 566 from Nairobi to Amsterdam on January 11. From there, the group is on 1 of 2 possible flights back to the U.S. (we had to separate for the lowest possible airfare for the entire group). The first option is Amsterdam to Salt Lake City on DELTA 57 and then DELTA 273 to Denver (arriving 3:20pm); the other option is DELTA 161 to Minneapolis and then DELTA 2641 to Denver (arriving 3:48pm). They will clear customs upon their first arrival to a U.S. city. If you’re planning to meet them at the airport in Denver, you can do so at the normal domestic arrivals area (at the top of the escalators from the train).
All the best,