Mwanafunzi / Enkierai esukul
Habari yako! Ninaitwa Ema, mimi ni mwanafunzi. Sopa! Ajii Ema, ara nano enkierai esukul.
Both mean How are you! My name’s Ema, I’m a student; first in Swahili and then in Maa, two common languages here in Kajiado County, southern Kenya. Being here is an incomparable learning experience. We get to hear first-hand information from people’s personal experiences, which relate directly to our course material. We interviewed people in human-wildlife conflict prone zones; at Imbirikani Girls Secondary School we participated in a debate about diversifying tourism in Kenya; we interviewed people in the tourism industry. Academics and daily activities are in constant conversation.
We just got back from our homestays. We spent a night at a Maasai boma near KBC, the Kenya SFS Center. Memi taught me Kipoito erkieek, we fetch firewood; Kipoito engare, we fetch water; Ayereta hei, we cook chai; Arromorra ieankaji, we make the house; Atadua ngishu, we watch cows.
Outside of schoolwork, I am also learning. Staff teach me new words in Swahili and Maa. I draw a story. They describe the drawings in Swahili and Maa. They teach me the language telling the story so I can better communicate and learn. I am infinitely grateful for the invaluable educational environment teachers and staff have fostered, maybe soon I will know the words to express this feeling.
The setting here demands translation between academic ideas and language into broader forms of understanding, speech, and knowledge systems. What I learn speaks to many different parts of my consciousness and history. Seeds germinate in my thoughts and I can’t wait to see the fruits I may reap as the learning they have gifted me continues to sink in and evolve.