Nicole came to Kenya to volunteer with us in 2016 from San Diego, California. Even though she has lived in San Diego, California for quite a long time, she will soon be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
We asked Nicole why she chose to come to Kenya and how she prepared for her trip and this is what she shared…..
“I chose to come to Kenya because I was ready for my heart to be cultivated by the beauty of Africa and it’s people! I prepared for my trip by using a checklist. I wrote down everything I needed to do and all I needed to pack before my departure date so that over the course of the weeks before leaving I was able to check things off each day. I also reached out to other volunteers that would be volunteering during the same time I was by using the NVS Facebook page. I started making new friends and forming relationships before I arrived in Kenya, very helpful!”
Students and their personalities flourished!
Nicole volunteered in two different programs over her trips to Kenya. She volunteered in childcare and teaching. In her time teaching, she was placed in a primary school and assigned to a class. Some days she assisted the teacher with grading and teaching while other days she was the only teacher teaching most subjects (except for Swahili of course!). Nicole says, “teaching was an incredible experience because over the course of my time there I was able to see my students and their personalities flourish!”
In her child care work, her day consisted of planning games and activities, teaching the children how to have fun with art, how to dance and sharpen their language skills in English. “My favorite part about the child care program is that there was not as strict of a schedule like in the school so I had the chance to have more fun with the kids.”
So Nicole, how has your time in Kenya impacted your life?
Nicole says there are not enough words to describe the impact that her time in Kenya has had upon her life. “I never thought I would fall so in love with a place. It is not a feeling that can be described in words. I have been asked countless times how I would describe it but I can’t! This incredible place must be felt. It is more than a walk to placement or a matatu ride. It is the people. It is the dirt that leaves your body stained after a day playing with the kids. It is the smell of chips cooking or corn roasting on the street. Kenya is a mixing pot of life, living, and experiences. My time in Kenya taught me that the greatest journey I will ever embark on is the one within myself. There is nothing on earth that will help enlighten, awaken or discover a spirit more than a changed heart!”
“Lastly, Kenya taught me the beauty of failure. Whether the failure I experienced was as little as messing up a lesson plan or as big as getting on the wrong matatu and not remembering how to get home. Kenya taught me that if I fail I have the chance to try again. How I cannot let fear of failure hold me back from trying new things and how to allow my weaknesses to rest in other people’s strengths and abilities!”
Nicole, take us back to when you stepped off the plane in Kenya for the first time….. there are others getting ready to do the same thing and might be wondering…..
“My first time stepping off the plane in Kenya was very memorable for me! I said to myself…. here we go! and I went through to customs! I encourage others to arrive with no expectations and a heart that is eager to help! I was feeling nervous and excited all at the same time and couldn’t wait to see where I would be staying. I am now jealous of anyone who has a trip planned to Kenya and has not yet been… all those first exposures and discoveries…. ”
So Nicole, the dreaded goodbye….. tell us about how you work through the sadness of saying goodbye or see you later to Kenya… no doubt others who have plans to come will experience it too!
Nicole says that leaving Kenya never gets easy or easier, even if you know you are coming back. “Each time I leave Kenya is it emotional, humbling, and I am reminded just how small I am and how great our world is. The best feeling is leaving knowing you made an impact. But look out…. Even though you traveled with the intent of blessing someone else’s life… YOU were the one was actually blessed. Remember….. Find your gift + share your gift = the purpose of life”
A bit more about Nicole is that she is a student at St. Catherine’s University majoring in Social Work. The next thing for her is focusing on her school work (when she is not day dreaming about Kenya, that is) and working. Her goal is to return to Kenya on academic breaks throughout her studies.
Have a question for Nicole about her time volunteering here in Kenya with us? Post it on the Facebook to her! She checks into social media quite often and will be glad to share more!
A note to Nicole: Thank you for sharing your story and your photos! Karibu Sana