There’s a 6 foot long green snake living in my banana tree

There’s a 6 foot long green snake living in the banana tree in my yard.

So said my ‘friend’ Roman the other day while we were out walking the dogs.  Trying not to faint, with eyebrows askance, I said ‘Really?’  ‘Sure,’ he says, ‘but don’t worry it’s utterly harmless.’

I was pretty sure he was joking but you never know when you’re in a whole new environment.  Must be the tall tales he wove as a former war correspondent (that or he simply likes shocking people).  I’m very happy to report there is no 6 foot long green (other any other colour) snake living in my backyard.

And so it goes moving not only to a new home, a new community, but half way around the world to Kenya.  Here are the first 4 of 12 things I’m picking up along the way:

 1. Humour and play:

The use of humour in any situation, whether you’ve moved 10 hours ahead in time zones or are facing a challenging audience for your brand new workshop, is smart and strategic.  You don’t have to be a professional comedian to use humour, you just have to be able to set the stage for humour to unfold.

It’s the same with play.  Walking the dogs, meeting new colleagues, going out for dinner, joking about gigantic snakes, it’s all in a day’s play.

2. My reactions:

Self-awareness is my ally.  Watching my reactions, staying open, being curious is hugely important. It’s in sync with advice from @devxroads:

“My best expat advice is what you probably know already: stay curious, be patient [with others AND yourself], and enjoy!

I’m watching my reactions to not knowing where the light switch is, how to flush the toilet, what brand of milk to buy and where to find a notary – all things that would be easy peasy at home.  Here, not so much.  Yet.

It’s like learning.  It’s a lovely invitation to what it can be like for adult learners learning something they’re not confident about for the first time.

Also I’m a systems kind of gal.  A carrot Life Lenses™.  Everything has it’s home at home.  Keys? Check.  Bag?  Check.  Client files?  Check.

Here I’m constantly looking for things.  I’m aware of myself looking for systems.  They’ll come to have their place, as will I.

In the meantime it’s exhausting.

Now where did I put my damn reading glasses…..

3. Privilege:

Not only did I move half way around the world, I moved to a so-called developing country.  The colour of my skin grants me ease and access that is undeserved.  If I get sick, medical help is within easy reach. Not so for most of the rest of the country.  My education opens doors that others can only dream of.  My Canadian passport is a precious gateway.

And I have help.  As in, I have help in my home.  A 24 hour guard, housekeepers and a gardener.  I find this new territory awkward.  And I’m extremely grateful.

Privilege.  I’m discovering on a cellular level just how much of it I have.

4. Community:

Nairobi is one of the three hubs for the United Nations (Geneva and New York being the other two).  It’s a multi-cultural, multi-racial rainbow of language, dress, food, and customs.

It’s also a revolving door of comings and goings.  I’ve only been here a week and yet friends of mine have gone to no less than 5 welcome back or farewell parties.

People have their radar tuned to roots that grow strong but briefly.  I’ve benefited enormously from this as I’ve already met a bunch of people who’ve gone out of their way to make me feel welcome (Canadians, Norwegians, Kenyans, South Africans, Swedes and Americans among them).

International learning.  It’s here, it’s now.

I’m jumping in the river and joining the swim upstream (check out Wes Darou’s post for a clever take on international learning and international development).  Are you with me?

**Confession time – know, as time passes and I become more at home in my new home, that I’m fearful of looking back on these initial writings as quaint or worse, as naïve and misunderstood.  Ahhh the vulnerability of putting oneself in the learning seat.

 

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