Goodbye Ohio, Jambo Nairobi!

1 Aug

Welcome to my blog – Jambo Nairobi! – “Jambo” is a way to say “hello” in Swahili.  This page will document my experiences in Kenya over the coming year. For those of you that have stumbled upon this page, my name is Ben Wallingford and I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University this past May with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Philosophy.  In Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, I will be working with a microfinance institution – Maono Initiative. It seems my position is a jack-of-all-trades kind of thing, I’ll find out more about the specifics when I arrive!

First off, let me tell you the story of how I’ve found myself in Kenya! My broad interests at this point in my life are economic development and poverty alleviation.  In November of last year, an OWU alum, Scott Bellows, came to lecture about “Financing the World’s Poor.” I felt that I should meet the guy, given my interests.  After he finished a session in one of my economics classes, I spoke with him and he offered me an internship in Africa pending resume and graduation from OWU! Needless to say, I took him up on the offer.

And here we are! What has seemed like a dream is about to become a reality. As I write this post, I am at JFK International Airport in New York, having completed 6% of my time in the air (1 hour out of 18, for those scoring at home).  I do miss my family and friends, but I have a feeling my time in Kenya will fly by.

I packed light – one suitcase, one backpack, and one garment bag.

I am, surprisingly, not nervous as of now, probably because I know I am not going this completely alone – I do have Scott to guide me through my transition to life in Kenya.  Scott is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy (and I am too!). Due to us not communicating well enough, a week ago, I wasn’t quite sure if I would 1) be picked up at the airport or 2) have permanent housing when I arrived in Nairobi. Alas, Scott is picking me up and I have a choice between a couple of family homestays (my preferred option) and apartments when I arrive! Also, I will meet plenty of college-aged peeps doing similar work as me.

Unfortunately, if I could have flown in a day earlier, I would have been welcomed to Nairobi with a dinner at the US Ambassador to Kenya’s residence. I didn’t think I flight switch was worth $500, so I passed on the opportunity – I’ll have other chances. Plus, now it’s like I have $500 to spend recklessly! Nairobi casino, here I come. Just kidding.

I’m feeling a sense of responsibility stemming from the fact that I am financing all of my travel costs and costs of living (including housing), and I like it. Thanks to everyone that chipped in to help with my costs!  I’m going to live in the moment while I’m in Kenya and make the most out of it.

Hope you enjoy my blog – I encourage interaction/comments!  My next post will be from a different country….a different continent….until then!

Goodbye Ohio!


6 Responses to “Goodbye Ohio, Jambo Nairobi!”

  1. greernica August 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Great photography in this first post. I also like your spelling of “jambo”!

    • Ben August 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      Why, thank you. Or I should say…”Asante”

  2. coolfez December 19, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    That picture of your house reminded me of the day in Jr. High? when you, me, kyle and Danny were doing competition with balls. Remember? And Kyle stepped on your plastic basement ventilation cover and broke it lol

    • Ben December 19, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      I remember the competition but not Kyle breaking my ventilation cover! How did it happen? If this is true then he owes me $$$! Haha, thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  3. Kevin Doyle May 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    Did you finish your time in NBO, or are you still around? I’m an ’88 alum living in NBO.

    • Ben May 29, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Kevin, I’m still around East Africa until late June, and maybe longer if I find the right job. Right now, I’m in Tanzania doing microfinance research, but return to NBO on June 4th. Nice to be connected to an alum living in NBO, let’s meet up sometime next month.

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