"Do they take showers in Africa?"
"Do they kill babies?"
..the questions continued.
I was shocked to hear the questions of fourth grade students at a local elementary school after I finished my presentation on East Africa and Kiswahili. After traveling to Kenya in the summer of 2007 and experiencing the amazing culture and hospitality of these people, I could not fathom that generalizations of savagery were still so commonplace.
While frightening events continue to consume many countries of Africa and media attention brings to light accounts of wars, starvation, HIV/AIDS, piracy, and so much more, I cannot help but feel that many outsiders are missing such an important aspect of the story. There are problems, yes. But there is also great potential.
I am not so naive as to assume that in Busia, Uganda I will not face potential dangers that my life in Alexandria, Virginia and Chapel Hill have sheltered me from. As I promised worried parents and grandparents, I will, of course, be alert and smart with my actions. However, I hate the idea that leaving for a summer in Africa brings with it as much fear and anxiety as excitement. This was not the Africa that I experienced, and it is not the Africa that I want the world to see. Life may be different and often volatile and insecure, yet at the heart of it there are a people who care, who listen, and who welcome with open arms. I cannot wait to be introduced back in to such a personable society and am counting down the days until I will step off the plane and feel completely alive once more.