(october 8, 2007)
instead of sitting around a warm and cozy house while the weather turns brisk and an autumn breeze blows the fallen leaves and there is the smell of a slow roasting turkey and pumpkin pie coming from the oven, i am working from home because of the clusterf*ck the move to our new offices has become while listening to the sounds of the manpower labouring in the vacant lot next to my flat that will inevitably result in yet another yellow-hued flat compound. as if our neighbourhood needs another one. i appreciate that it signals the economic development and success of the city (i won’t say country as the wealth in kenya is still concentrated in the cities), but it concerns me that in ten years, this neighbourhood will look like the 1970s-tastic buildings and design of downtown nairobi (and most other african capitals, as far as i can tell). oh well, c’est la vie.
and if my attitude is anything to on, i won’t be in the city for too much longer.
it is not that i am unhappy in kenya or nairobi, just a bit bored. and a bit uncertain about my career and personal future. in a good way i suppose, because i feel as though i have options. just a matter of which option would be the best. then again, none of those options really need to be explored at this time, i just like to plan. even if planning is grossly premature.
i think all these deep thoughts are the result of some exasperation about the field of international development and this country. i spent last week at a capacity building workshop on gender mainstreaming and i did learn a lot (and you better believe that THAT is going on my cv!) but i forget that other education systems are not as progressive (and yes, i do think that it is progressive) as in canada. if i have ever had trouble understanding something, i have always been able to ask my teachers and have been able to question the topics. we are taught to ask ‘why?’ as many times as it takes until we understand and i believe our educators are held to account because of this system. obviously, there are crappy teachers, professors, and instructors in canada as everywhere, but as learners, we feel we are entitled to accurate information and the teaching of it and are able to express out discontent if this is not afforded us.
in kenya, it is not like this at all. students are taught in very traditional manners and are
required to regurgitate this material through repetition and memorisation. i realise that this is a rather profound value judgement that i am making, but i think that canadians are raised to critical analyse information presented and that leaves us better able to process new information and recognise when information presented as fact is not so simple.
is this my western arrogant attitude coming through in its true colours? perhaps. but sometimes i do think that we do some things better. and education is one of them.
i was sending violent text messages to friends and the bf full of frustration and exasperation between last week’s sessions where the facilitators were clearly unfamiliar with the material they were presenting. it was all new to me and i was incredibly interested in it but i am afraid that i am still not entirely clear as it was often so muddled and rushed that i felt the facilitators were more concerned with looking good in front of the room and demonstrated their intellectual superiority than in acknowledging that their own comprehension of the tools and frameworks we were reviewing was incomplete.
here is hoping that this week is more inspiring and productive and that i can put my canadian education to use in reviewing the take-home materials i was given so i can ‘engender programming’ in my department and have some legitimate claim to understanding gender in development. failing that, i will take a vacation soon and am rather looking forward to getting out of the city.
but the lodge i stayed at was lovely and i met some interesting people who i hope to work with in the future. and like i said, you had better believe that this will go on my cv. gender expert? sure, sounds good to me.