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SSCA’s First Student Exchange to Kenya

June of 2010, SSCA sent its first group of seven youth ambassadors from Scottsdale high schools on an exchange trip to our sister city of Uasin Gishu County, Kenya.

Five girls, two boys, and two chaperones departed Phoenix on Friday morning, May 31st, and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday night, June 1st. Two nights were spent at a hotel in Nairobi adjusting to the ten-time zone difference and doing some cultural and historical “sightseeing” by visiting important sights in Nairobi: Kenya National Museum, Kenya Railway (“Lunatic Express”) Museum, Maasai Market, Uhuru Park (site of Wangari Maathai’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning protests), etc. On Monday the delegation traveled to Amboseli National Park for two nights, which included three safari game drives, with sightings of dozens of lions and many elephants, hippos, hyenas, etc. They also visited a traditional Maasai village - learning about their culture and visiting their primary school and leaving donated school supplies brought from Scottsdale.

On Wednesday afternoon they flew 40 minutes to Eldoret, the principal city in Uasin Gishu County for a six-night stay. Many students were home hosted by their “Kenyan siblings”, the nine Kenyan students whom our delegation had home hosted in Scottsdale only seven weeks earlier (April). This reciprocal arrangement allowed the opportunity to renew friendships, meets lots of new people, and learn much about the lifestyle, culture, and history of Uasin Gishu and Kenya.

During the visit to county government headquarters, SSCA Vice President Donna Hartz presented a plaque to Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago commemorating the 5th anniversary of our SC relationship. Students met with numerous county officials and Governor Mandago spent time with our students explaining Kenyan national and local governance. Afterward, they all planted trees – a long-standing Kenyan traditional gesture of friendship. The students visited the four high schools involved in prior exchanges to Scottsdale, touring the campuses and meeting with administrators, teachers, and students. The delegation visited several primary schools, an orphanage, and two health clinics - where medical supplies (from Project C.U.R.E.) and school supplies were shared.

One of the best experiences was a visit to a high school where a student dance and drumming group was practicing for an upcoming competition. Everyone joined in and had great fun. Other highlights: a visit to a Great Rift Valley overlook and cliff diving (by locals) in canyon at the bottom; dinner at the home of two time Boston Marathon champion and Olympic medalist Moses Tanui; and a tour of St. Luke’s Hospital and grand farewell dinner at the home of the hospital’s CEO, Dr. Lectary Lelei, who has previously visited us in Scottsdale. Of course, many of the greatest memories came from the many hours our students spent with their host families and local students. After a busy and exhausting six days, good-byes were said and the delegation took a six-hour van ride back to Nairobi and the very long flights back to Phoenix.

The SSCA Uasin Gishu committee is looking for new members.

For more information contact us.


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