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Exploring Kenya with the CYEC by Hannah Ranalli, Community, Environment and Development Major, International Agriculture and GIS Minor

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Posted: December 8, 2018

"I was fortunate enough to travel to Kenya in May of 2018 for a bit less than 3 weeks; here are a few highlights from my trip. Arriving in Nairobi after what seemed like days of traveling was both shocking and exciting."
Views from the safari in the Solio game reserve. A picture of our entire group from Penn State along with our companion Sam.

Views from the safari in the Solio game reserve. A picture of our entire group from Penn State along with our companion Sam.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Kenya in May of 2018 for a bit less than 3 weeks; here are a few highlights from my trip. Arriving in Nairobi after what seemed like days of traveling was both shocking and exciting. At 4:30am the hustle and bustle of this city had already begun. Our journey from the airport to our hotel was filled with thousands of commuters walking, biking, or driving to work and this energy did not fade throughout the entire trip. In a nutshell, my team and I worked with the Children and Youth Empowerment Center (CYEC) located a few hours outside of the capital in a city called Nyeri. We collaborated with the youth of the center, who were typically between the ages of 18 and 24, to establish programs for them to gain entrepreneurial skills. Before arriving in Kenya, we had been working with the CYEC staff to develop programs they thought would be beneficial for the youth. My partner and I worked with the silage production team to teach the youth how to make sustainable livestock feed in the hopes that they would not only use this skill within the center but potentially within their professional lives as well. We just received word that the silage was successful and they have continued to add to the project, which is very exciting for us. We were also able to explore a bit outside of the center and visited local farms, went on a safari and explored the city. Overall, this experience taught me the importance of evaluating a situation before attempting to solve it. While we had plans for how the program would go long before we hit the ground in Kenya, we could not predict many of the challenges we would face. For instance, after chopping the napier grass, we had one student feed it to the cattle raw, and another sell it to another farmer. It substantially set back our project by multiple days and discouraged us at first but in the end, we adapted and learned from the experience. Through this experience I feel as though I am much more equipped to travel by myself or alongside peers. While airports and public transportation can be intimidating, I undoubtedly feel more comfortable embarking on journeys and experiencing even more of what this world has to offer. Lastly, teamwork was a crucial component throughout the trip both with my Penn State peers and my Kenyan ones. We developed alongside each other and I definitely learned both from leading discussions and listening to the broad perspectives the group had to offer.