On impact and chasing sunsets

I need to write about all that has happened in the last few days, but due to fatigue, it may be more list than vivid writing.  
After my brief attempt at a post on Saturday, we were on our way to the Permaculture Research Institute.  Interesting fact:  this is another organization that got its start at Daraja, having met there in 2012 to begin devising its purpose.  After learning that, I decided that it would be great to tell Janelle (who works on the website) and prompt her to consider putting an interactive map of all the area NGOs that started in connection with Daraja (Simama and PRI) being two of the many, though I’ve heard many times of the impact of Daraja on the local community.  I ended up telling Janelle that today (Sunday), and she noted, as I had thought, that this would be another way of showing impact.  I hope that they can make that work on the site.  
The PRI had camping facilities on site, a number of gardens, a compost toilet, a biogas fueled kitchen, a brick oven, a chicken coup, and the beginnings of a major building to host the gift shop and offices.  In addition to harvesting and processing prickly pear (deemed a hazard in local communities, because consumption by cows can blind them and the species is invasive) for good purpose, the institute offers training on sustainable building, organic farming, water conservation and usage, and others.  They’ve had guests from France, Italy, and the US, among other countries.  Their next big project is to build a number of on site bandas for visitors.  Once they are done, I myself would be very interested in coming for a short stint.  Matteo and I could definitely benefit from learning more about permaculture.  I am actually interested now in exploring the benefits of growing prickly pear, a drought resistant plant with an edible fruit that can be processed into jam, wine, and juice, in the Bay Area.  I’m curious how it might due in our backyard garden in a few planters.  Maybe we might be able to get enough for jam.  
After the PRI, the groups split.  My group headed to Twala with a brief stop by Daraja to pick up Lillian, a Drama alumna who is planning to start university in a few months, focusing on conflict resolution.  I wish I had learned more about her story during the trip.  It seems the conversation always shifted away from her.  
At Twala, we had a traditional Maasai welcome; lunch of chicken, rice, chapati, and cabbage; a short rest before the students went on a tour (I went to rest for a few hours, because I needed it); a drive to the Turtle Rock for a climb and #chasingsunsets moment; an around the fire conversation; dinner of mokimo, carrots, and spinach; and time to rest.  On the way there, the students saw their first giraffes, oryx, and impala.  
This morning, at 6am, we were on our way for a baboon walk, which was majestic, still, beautiful.  After the baboon walk, there was a simple breakfast of bread (for the gluten folk), egg, watermelon, and Maasai tea or coffee; then the ride back to Daraja for a short time to freshen up; Stephen left to have the rest of day for rest while the rest of the group went out with Moses to Nanyuki; we stopped by the Nanyuki markets, though they were mostly empty due to it being Sunday; I bought some fabric.  There was a stop by Dorman’s for shakes and lunch.  After Dorman’s we were off to the Mt. Kenya Wildlife Conservancy to see a number of animals, including the Bongo, which is nearly extinct in the wild.  There are only about 100 left in the wild, while the Wildlife Conservancy has 60 on its groups for breeding and conservation.  
The students and I had a number of remarkable adventures:  feeding ostriches, monkeys, a baby bison and baby zebra and baby oryx; petting a purring cheetah; seeing a pigmy black hippo; and more.  
Some things I learned along the way:  I have to be more explicit about my students preparing questions for our guests.  At lunch with Rosemary, the organizer of the Twala Cultural Center, it was only me that asked questions.  With those questions, we learned about the history of the center, how she convinced her father and husband to let her attend school after her early marriage, the process of founding the Twala Center, FGM and resistance against it in the Maasai community while preserving the good traditions; how children must communicate only through the mother to their father; and other aspects of her dynamic story.  The students oftentimes resorted to talking with one another about their lives back home; they let a number of opportunities to learn the stories of the women at the center and even Stephen and Lillian and our driver Kamal just pass by.  Perhaps this is partly my failing, not preparing them to ask more questions.  It may also be that sometimes cultural immersion reaches an overload point and the students sometimes need a moment to just decompress and connect with one another, which is definitely a valid practice.  
I am also learning that when I step back, beautiful revelations happen.  It was lovely to see my students return from beading with the woman or (two of them) staying in the traditional manyatta with stories to tell, stories that were not mitigated by my presence.  I’m learning the balance of being nearby and pulling away for the students to learn their own lessons.  I’m always still nearby, but I’m trying to pull away from hovering as much.  As they settle in, they are becoming more used to figure out problems and solutions on their owns.  
Just some things I’m thinking about.  

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More later.  I’d like to talk about what I’ve learned from my students from their one-on-one conferences, but I’m way too tired right now.  

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