Meet Students to Kenya
In June, Quest sent four students, Lewis, Adrienne, Justin, and Jhamoireanne, to spend three weeks in Kenya. This was the first time in two years that Quest was able to send students abroad. These students were incredibly excited because this was their last opportunity travel abroad with Quest, and they were heading off to college when they returned. After being delayed for over a year due to the pandemic, they felt that they needed to manage their expectations. It turned out that their overseas experience was a wonderful mixture of cultural awareness, personal growth, introspection, and eye-opening experiences.
The program to Kenya was centered around climate change and wildlife preservation. The students spent the three weeks visiting with a Maasai family, exploring the Kenya Wildlife Park in Nairobi, visiting with Kenyan business people, and helping with a children’s home. There was some class instruction, but most of the time was spent experiencing hands-on cultural activities.
The host family experience was amazing as it gave the students insight into the daily life of an average Kenyan family. Lewis said that he really enjoyed exploring the differences between life in Kenya and in St. Louis. One time he spent the evening talking with his host brother while attending a bonfire, and remarked how safe he felt there. He enjoyed the freedom that he felt by not needing to worry about personal safety and letting go.
Justin said that he really enjoyed spending time in Nairobi, meeting the business owners, and touring the solar factory and the recycling plant. Justin’s host family experience was a little different because the oldest son in his host family was about 30 years old and had his own home nearby the family’s home. For Justin, this was like a big brother experience and gave him an opportunity to have many memorable one-on-one conversations and a night of playing PlayStation. He learned that families have many of the same goals and aspirations regardless of where they live, and that we all have more similarities than differences.
Adrienne said that she really enjoyed the experience of being part of the group of students from all over the world. It made her feel more adventurous and gave her a sense of belonging. She embraced things that used to make her nervous, she learned to “let go” and experience what was available. Her favorite time was working with children in the children’s home. She had not worked with kids before and enjoyed the experience.
Lewis said that his favorite part and his least favorite part was participating in a dinner with a group at the children’s home. Unlike living in St. Louis where meat is purchased at the grocery store, the students experienced the full process of preparing a meal including the killing of the goat. This helped him see the difference between our American lifestyle and the lifestyle in Kenya. It also helped them see some of the things we take for granted. He learned that what we may see as a hard life, they see as just life. It caused his mind to shift from “vacation” to “a learning experience”.
Our students answered in the affirmative when asked if they were interested in traveling again, and they said that this was an amazing opportunity to interact with new people and cultures. Justin said, “It was especially gratifying to travel to Africa as an African American male.”