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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

arts travel

Column: How we say 'goodbye' in Kenya

June 12 was our last day in Eldoret, Kenya.

It was our last day seeing our partners and the last chance to change anything about our reporting. It was the last time our two classes will have met together as one.

The professors of both IU and Moi University organized a great going away party for the Hoosiers.

There were pictures, speeches, singing and thank-yous that lasted the four-and-a-half hours we were there.

We all met in the banquet hall where our meal was catered in.

In America, we eat, chat and snap pictures all at the beginning to get it out of our system before the serious part comes, right? Well, not in Kenya.

Many speeches were made one after the other, each one getting more emotional as they went on.

The dean of Moi University as well as the Chancellor and heads of the Department of Communications also came out to thank us for the reporting we have done and the lives we have touched.

It was interesting for us, the Americans, to be thanked for the trip. For us, the trip to report on HIV and AIDS was an unbelievable opportunity to experience a new culture and work alongside a foreign counterpart.

We had a duty to report and tell stories to the best of our ability, and we could not have done as well without the help of the Moi staff.

But it was everyone from Moi who was thanking us to no end.

The dean thanked us for coming, for making this relationship with the two schools the best it could be.

The night really made us see just how important our work was to Kenya and its citizens. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

After speeches made by the professors, everyone was moved to tears by two talks spoken from our masters students, Michael Ollinga and Heather Robbins.

They talked about how the relationship between the IU and Moi students was quickly transformed into a friendship rather than working partners.

We were able to exchange small gifts to each other, the Americans giving away IU gear and trinkets and the Kenyan students giving us Moi University mugs.

Then, after a surprise song sung by two Kenyan girls, we were able to wipe away our tears and enjoy our last meal together.

Goodbyes are the same in Kenya.

Tears, sad smiles and knowing we might never see each other again loomed over us.

Many hugs were exchanged and we made sure our “Friends” status on Facebook was established before we finally departed the banquet hall.

“Goodbye is never painful, if we know we are going to see each other again,” Ollinga said at the end of his speech.

For this group, I know that is true.

– campbjes@indiana.edu

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