Student Reflections [Kenya Part 1]

Sometimes, to remind myself of why it is so important to keep Sprout going, I look back at some of the words of participants in our programs and trips. I smile, maybe get a little misty-eyed, and get inspired to keep going! Here’s a few selections I found this evening in the Sprout Archives.

Quinlan, 15 years old

Girl in Maasai Regalia

Here’s one of the most amazing moments from my experience. We were getting dressed in our regalia [ceremonial Maasai clothing] to go to Community Day when Hosim took me to her friend’s room to borrow her clothes and jewelry. There were about eight girls in the room, and they were all watching her with wonder as she dressed me up. They kept telling me I looked “smart.” Then we walked out of the dorm, and THIS is the moment (one of the happiest in my life). We walk out and there’s Katie: she’s in the regalia and she has this circle of girls around her, braiding her hair. I looked at her and she had this indescribable look of pure joy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look that happy. The we looked right at each other, and this feeling just passed between the two of us. Its so hard to explain. It was this feeling of bliss I’ve never experienced before, and in that moment that I was truly happy.

Wan, 15 years old

Wan at the Soda Lake with Flamingos

Our trip to Africa was one of my most life-changing experiences. I came to realize many biases I didn’t even know I had. For one thing, I saw a Maasai man herding his cows and sheep along the savanna… and then pull out his cell phone. I was surprised that a man in the middle of Kenya, herding livestock, living in a village, would own a cell phone. The media makes stereotypes, like all of Africa is a starving, deprived continent which needs help to survive. I’m Chinese, and the Chinese word for Africa, 非洲, quite literally means “Poor Country.” I realized that these stereotypes have caused us to overlook that modern and traditional might actually mesh, and that people living a traditional life without our luxuries might be just as happy, or happier than us. In Kenya, I saw more smiles in a day than I could see in a month here. Happiness is a state of mind, not determined by what you actually have, but what you make of (and think of) what you have. This trip has definitely expanded my views more than I could’ve imagined before.

Chloe, 16 years old

chloe in olkiramatian

Lale'enok [in Kenya] is more then just a camp, it's a place where you can learn things you've never known, a place where you can bond with people you've never met, it's somewhere you are bound to smile every second you are there. I have never been so intrigued to learn new things, I've never been more ecstatic to meet new people and make life long friends. The culture is beautiful, the style of life and the way of living is so bold. The people are so creative and find how to make everyday utensils out of natural resources and things they can discover from nature. Everyone was so welcoming and so open to teach us about the way they live. I am so grateful and appreciative. Staying there has really changed my view on many things, and it’s something i'll never forget.

There you go. A few reactions from literally hundreds we’ve gotten over the years. It inspired me to look through the archives for these, and I hope it inspires you as well. I think I’ll do this again.