From Kenya with love
Team Kenya has successfully landed back to Finland from the field trip part of the Global Sustainability module. It was a spectacular experience words cannot do justice to, full of sun, smiles, and new friends, and maybe a bit of a culture shock in the beginning. It was also a quite welcome escape to the warmer climate from the Finnish autumn rains.
During our stay we had the pleasure of experiencing for example different cultures and pratices as well as getting familiar with Kenyan cuisines like Ugali, local traffic manners like matatu, and dancing routines from different tribes. We stayed at the peaceful Egerton University campus area, in the quietness of the nature, where we also did our working.
With the intense multicultural team working we had, you cannot avoid building connections and friendships that last long in life. The Egerton and Gulu Universities’ students gave us a warm welcome and taught us a lot about the society and study cultures in Africa, while we introduced them to the Finnish way of life.
Picture: Natalie Helenius
But from all the great things the field trip offered, one that struck out the most was a 3-day field visit to Lake Victoria area, for example Kisumu and Homa Bay. We had the utmost honour to visit a couple of local communities, which gave us the aspect to the culture and living as well as the challenges they are facing.
We got the opportunity to literally put our hands in to the dirt, when we made the compost manure also using the water hyacinth harvested nearby. This really deepened our understanding of the significance of community engagement. When you put the community at the heart of the work or research it makes it accountable. Community engagement also adds trust on both sides and working hand in hand improves cohesion which is vital for projects to succeed.
Picture: Michael Chepkor
Lastly, of course not the whole trip was about working on the student challenge. We spent a free day at a safari, taking a ride through one of Kenya’s most popular national parks, Nakuru National Park, located around Lake Nakuru. It was unbelievable to see all the wild animals like giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and warthogs up close, animals that we had only seen in The Lion King before. Unfortunately, lions were shy during our visit and did not show themselves.. one more reason to return to Kenya!
Picture: Leila-Mari Ryynänen
To sum up, our field trip truly was a once in a lifetime adventure that we will cherish for long! We returned to Finland backpacks full of new friends, new experiments, wider understanding and awareness, and overall cultural competence.
Thank you HAMK for this one-of-a-kind opportunity and thank you Egerton and Gulu Universities for the great company!
Writers: Maija Pyhälammi & Annamari Hietanen