Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thanksgiving in Kenya

This Thanksgiving was the first one I spent away from family. As a native Michigander it was hard to get in the holiday mood with green trees and no leaves on the ground. Luckily I had my Fisi family to celebrate with me.

In the field we alternate who hosts holidays. Halloween was in Serena, so Thanksgiving was in Talek. Emily and I left right after obs on Wednesday to drive to the other camp. We took the back roads and got to see the beautiful hills of the Reserve. We arrived early enough to go to the Talek market day, where I bought some kanga fabric.

Maasai market in Talek town
On Thanksgiving proper, the whole group cooked. I made sweet potatoes beforehand, and we brought a turkey all the way from Nairobi.  Leah, Lily, Mary, Jack, and Emily washed, peeled, and chopped potatoes and garlic under the watchful eye of the Joseph, the Talek chef. Leah fried up some excellent chapati, and Jack made chocolate chip cookies. We headed to Base Camp, a nearby lodge, to look at some beading by the Maasai Mamas.

The Fisi Family
At 3pm the 16 of us (6 Americans and 10 Kenyans) sat down to eat. For dinner we had American classics like turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy, but we also had chapati, sukuma, lentils, traditional Kenyan dishes. Dessert was some truly amazing pumpkin pie.

It was interesting to experience Thanksgiving, an American holiday, while in a foreign country. In the spirit of the holiday I took the time to think about what I am thankful for this year. I have a fantastic job and great co-workers. I have my health. I live in a time where I was able to call my family and wish them a happy Thanksgiving. 

But this year I was struck by how privileged I am. I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, doing the kind of research I have dreamed about since middle school. I am able to learn from the Kenyan people about their culture and history. I am deeply thankful for the opportunities I have been presented with, and I remind myself daily how lucky I am to be able to experience this journey.

And with that, I wish you all a (belated) Happy Thanksgiving. 

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