After landing, and making it through security at Jomo Kenyatta Airport I quickly found my ride to what would be my home for the next ten months. Driving down the highway we turned into Ongata Rongai, a little town outside of Nairobi, Kenya. I was met with new smells, hardships, faces, and the phrase muzungu, which means white person in Swahili. I had arrived! This would be my first night in Africa, a culmination of jet lag, amazing stars, new friends, culture, and surprises. What did God have in store for me this year?
Let’s set the stage:
The sun is setting in a deep, dusty haze. The sunset resembles the cross section of a blood orange; the vibrant hues painting a picture so complex, only the human eye can properly capture it. The never-ending horizon is dotted with sparse acacia trees, torched grasses, and a termite mound or two.
It's a running joke in my family that no one is really that stubborn when in reality, everyone is stubborn. It's a wonder that we can get together long enough for one holiday sometimes. There are a couple of different types of stubborn. For a long time, I only understood the classic obstinate, get-out-of-my way stubbornness. That is, until I realized that smiling politely and doing the opposite of what is told is also one way of being stubborn. That's me. Lots of people tend to think that I need buckets of advice on all aspects of my life when they don't always understand what's going on.
(Photo: Not Africa.) As I looked outside the other morning, I saw a white dusting had fallen. Everything was covered! The sky was grey and I could barely make out the distant palms. Could it have been? Had Sub-Saharan Africa succumb to the climate change and we had snow? It was almost Christmas! Did Santa come early? That would be great but no, it cannot be snow. It is a literal dusting. The winds from the north (the Hammadamramlam winds or something like that) are bringing down sand and everything is covered.
Loma Linda University School of Public Health Alumna Dr. Ogbochi McKinney, received the Emil Bogen Excellence in Research Award at the 2014 Southern California Public Health Association. Dr. McKinney received the award, given annually, for research in Malawi she conducted as part of her dissertation entitled “Examining the Impact of Food Access and Medication Side Effects on Intentions to Adhere to Antiretroviral Therapy”.
One week ago, I landed back in "my country." Some things will never change about Chad: The perfume of many of the Muslims or the heavy diesel pollution that gets caught in the back of the throat as soon as you get off the plane. At least we are still Ebola free and are taking several screening precautions to prevent it.
About a month ago I was chatting with my cousin and the issue of lawn care came up. I randomly asked if he’d adjusted his watering schedule due to the drought. With a perplexed look he responded, “No, why would I do that?”
“Because we’re in a drought” I replied slowly. I didn’t understand how this could be news to him.
“We’re always in a drought. I haven’t been told to adjust my water usage, so until I get something in the mail from the water company, I’m going to keep my lawn green”.
It's been 3 weeks now since I blundered out of that Ethiopian flight #0500, so happy to have fast mobile internet, burritos, and English. Now I can't say that I had terribly bad reverse culture shock but none the less, there have been many times that I forget I am in the land of the free and home of the brave.
1) I don't have to translate into another language for my day to day duties. I catch myself thinking about phrasing, gender, and conjugation when I'm looking for an item in Target.
A study of more than 4,000 Asian-Americans in Southern California out of Loma Linda University School of Public Health has found that physical activity among six major Asian-American subgroups (Chinese, Filipino, South Asian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean) is affected by social determinants in each group. Previous studies have been done to identify determinants of physical activity in the U.S., but the majority of this research focuses on the general U.S. population, either excluding Asian-Americans or combining diverse populations into one homogenous group.