Elleni Stephanou, Local Intern

Date Published

It is funny to learn the differing perceptions of people and cultures; something very apparent in a camp atmosphere where we – a mix of culture, ethnicity and background – spend everyday with each other. Here are two examples;

Every morning I am used to being awoken by the sun through my tent. It is already so hot by 7:15 that by 7:30 it is uncomfortable to remain in bed, and begin to break a sweat. One morning however, it was still dull at 7:15, cold even. I was still wrapped in my blanket at 7:30 and so I knew it was a strange day. Outside was very windy and cold! I put on jeans, a jumper and even a scarf, the most I have ever worn here! At breakfast I saw that David, Steven, and even Lekomet had extra layers on. It was 19?C! We were used to 25+ each morning and an average of 30 by lunchtime. Jennifer came to breakfast wearing the usual – shorts and a light shirt. ‘It’s cold today!’ I exclaimed, to which Jennifer just laughed. She is used to the mountains of Colorado where temperatures plummet below anything we Kenyans can begin to imagine. There I was bundled up against the cold, and she sat comfortably enjoying the heat.
We have reincarnated the movie nights at camp, which are open to all, and despite barely speaking a word of English majority of the Samburu men join us. On the first showing they proved to be more entertaining than the episode of Human Planet we chose! We sat and watched about 10minutes of a Papa New Guinean who was famed for catching sharks, a tradition in his people, and stalk out a shark in the open ocean. Finally he caught it! All the Samburu men were shouting exclamations of shock and disbelief as this man on a canoe dragged a shark toward himself. He explained how the tradition was dying out mainly due to shark poaching and over fishing, and expressed his worries of his future generations not being able to continue with the tradition. For this reason, he released the shark. This was a relief for me, as I had just endured another group of people killing a whale, but for the Samburu it was hilarious! They could not understand why the man had spent so many hours waiting and stalking out the shark just to let it go again! To think that possibly none of the men watching had ever seen neither the ocean nor a shark gave the situation a surreal innocence, and yet despite their ignorance they enjoyed it beyond comprehension-literally.

It is always an interesting endeavour when differences like these arise, and I hope to always notice them as sometimes they are subtle or lost through language barriers. I hope to always find delight in these differences as the Samburu do, and laugh at my own ignorance. As contradictory as it will sound, I hope to be as open-minded as they are!