Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reflections, Flexibility, and Grant Writing

Yep, that's my catch-all title for this week's blog post (after four hours of grant writing, my head's a bit fuzzy). As you can probably tell from the fact that I've been bad about updating again, life's gotten busy once more, and I've also gotten sucked into the routine of Nairobi life. My internship is now in full swing, and I'm really loving it, despite the challenges. I also really love that so many of the guys I work with are all around my own age, because it gives me this whole other set of friends to hang out with on the weekends, something most of the other people in my program don't really have.

I really can't believe I'm only here for another four weeks (actually, a bit less than that). I have, it's safe to say, completely fallen in love with Nairobi life, and I can't imagine how its going to feel to leave. There are absolutely things I miss about home (mostly food and friends!), but life here is exciting and adventurous and, despite my routine, there's never a dull moment. I've been trying really hard not to get too complacent as I get familiar with Nairobi, to continue to force myself to go out and do new things, try new foods, go new places. One day at work this week we went out for lunch and I finally got up the courage to try fish brains (actually much better than eyeballs; brains actually just taste a lot like regular fish meat), and this Friday some friends and I went to a concert which featured a band one of my friend's internship works with. It was definitely a Kenyan concert, with lots of Luo and Luhya music, and believe me when I tell you Kenyans like to do. With everybody swinging their hips and shaking their butts (Kenyans, no exaggeration, are the best dancers in the world) it's hard to resist, so my friends and I headed out on the dance floor and had ourselves a great Friday night. Going back to DC is going to be weird in that respect, too - white guys just aren't as good dancers as Kenyans, nor are they as enthusiastic!

I've also been keeping super busy working on the grant I'm currently writing for ICA. I've discovered after our grant writing workshop last Saturday that I actually really like grant writing - it's really technical and nit-picky, but the editor side of me actually kind of loves it. I feel like I haven't really found my "niche" here in Kenya (women, economic development, refugees, that sort of thing), so knowing that I can always fall back on being a freelance grant writer if I have to is sort of a huge relief. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I really love the organization I'm writing the grant for, and I really, really, really want to get them this money (the grant is for a civic responsibility/patriotism/clean up your community-type project). That also makes it kind of stressful, though, as I feel like every word has to be perfect, since only about 10 percent of proposals actually end up being accepted. It's kind of like applying to college all over again!

Finally, I wanted to talk a bit  about my "personal growth" over the course of this semester. It's definitely hard to see it as you're going through the daily routine of classes and commuting and getting homework done, but there was a moment last weekend when I really saw just how much I've changed. It was Sunday afternoon, and I was just settling in to spend the day being really productive. Just then, the power went out. I spent out two minutes freaking out, worrying about how I was going to get my work done (since my computer battery only lasts about 20 minutes when it isn't plugged in) and when I was going to find the time to do everything that needed to get done. Then, I calmed myself down and realized that it was a gorgeous afternoon - why not enjoy it? I spent two hours outside on the balcony reading, just listening to the birds and taking in the fresh air. I really surprised myself - back home, I would have a major break down if something like that happened. That sort of letting go, of taking life throws at you and realizing that, somehow, everything will get done and it will all be just fine, is a really fantastic feeling, and one that I don't think I've experienced very many times in my life. In my head I've sort of divided myself into a "Kenya Emily" and a "back home Emily," and I'm hoping this flexible, "Zen" acceptance will stay with me as I cross back over the Atlantic.

So that's all for now. Back to grant writing in a bit, then off to enjoy my last month in Kenya!


  1. Hey Em, let me know if you want me to add fish brains to the Easter menu! Glad you're learning to "relax".

  2. Hey - if you are having fish brains for Easter dinner count me in!!!
    Hs & Ks,
    Aunt Patty