All Posts By

Kyle Jaster


By | 2011 - Kenya | No Comments

We have been in Kenya for about 5 days now and it is absolutely amazing. We spent the first few days of our time here at Heart House in Nairobi and have now been on a game reserve on the outskirts of Nairobi for about two days. We are staying at Tim Banister’s house, an CBM employee, and will be spending the remainder of our time here. The reserve (also known as the ranch) is absolutely gorgeous with open Savannah as far as the eye can see; Zebras, Giraffe, Wildebeests, Gazelles, Ostriches, and a number of other animals are a regular sight running across our front lawn.

This morning at about 4 am I briefly woke to see the most magnificent stars I have ever seen before, complimented by the sounds of crickets, Wildebeests, and Zebras, and a soft warm breeze that whistled through the tree outside of our tent. I fell back to sleep at peace only to wake a couple of hours later to Watson, Tim’s trusty Collie, licking my face, a plot that I’m sure was set in motion by Geoff and Jonathan in an attempt to wake me up.

As the sun rose on the horizon, illuminating the far off Mount Kilimanjaro, Jonathan, Nicola and I rose to the opportunity to go for a morning run: It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. You almost forgot you were running as you took in the beauty all around you. The Beauty of this land and its people has been one of the most meaningful parts of my time here… I actually just about came to tears this morning as I prayed for breakfast thanking God for the opportunity to experience this place and to simply be in awe of His creation. And as if this isn’t enough I have had the opportunity to learn so much from Tim, our host, and the many projects he has introduced us to. I love this place and I will be sad to leave it when the time comes.

Thank you all again for your support in making this trip possible for myself and the rest of the team. We feel truly blessed on a daily basis as we continue to learn and expand our understanding of development as it applies to African communities on a grass-roots level.

Re Entrance into the SSU Community

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My experience with re entering the SSU community was quite difficult. It wasn’t difficult because SSU had changed or the people had changed, it was actually quite the opposite feeling. It felt like everything was the same, and that was the problem. I felt like my life had changed so significantly because of my experience in Asia that in some way I didn’t fit in at SSU any more. I don’t think that it would be a fair statement to say that the people at SSU didn’t change because I’m sure they did too. The difference was that their lives had changed under the same contexts it had always been in and mine had changed in a completely different world, with different issues, different challenges, different thought.
At first it was kind of upsetting and uncomfortable. However, the dynamic of SSU and the people it inhabits made for an incredible re entrance into the community. The bond that all of us Asian students had built in Asia allowed us to lean on one another for support for the first little while, and then eventually when we were comfortable the rest of the community was there to accept us.
Now after being back for over three weeks things feel pretty comfortable and regular again. However, what I don’t want is to feel too comfortable, I don’t want to forget what I have learned in Asia. It is a good thing to feel challenged and a little uncomfortable sometimes. Getting back into the ‘groove of life’ or into the ‘routine’ can be a dangerous and easy place to be. Challenge yourself daily!

Experiential Learning

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I had a good talk with Gregg Finley at one point during our time in the Philippines about the importance of experiential learning and the idea that experiencing something has a much bigger impact on a person than just reading about it or receiving a lecture on a specific topic. Especially when it comes to 3rd world poverty/injustice issues for a first world person. Though the media is filled with propaganda, news, and pleas for help from around the world, it is still surprisingly easy to ignore. It seems to be only the people who are already interested in the issues and those somewhat informed who pay any attention to foreign activities. However, it is a lot harder to ignore an international crisis if one has experienced it first hand. When you meet someone who is in a terrible situation and take the chance to talk with them, bond with them, and hear their story, a personal connection is made between you and that person/issue. The situation becomes much more real and personal. So what am I suggesting? I am suggesting that in order to get people motivated to make a difference in this world and to become concerned with the issues of this world, the most productive way to accomplish this is for some kind of personal experience to take place. If that isn’t enough to motivate people to do something about this world we live in then we truly live in a cold world. I’m also going to suggest that when this takes place I wouldn’t recommend going into the place thinking that you are the solution to all of their problems and that you are going to be some kind of saving grace because you will probably take more from them than you will give (I know this from personal experience). An idea that I’ve been focusing on a lot since being in SEA is that of the attitude of the people I meet here who are living in conditions much worse than my own. These people have an indescribable joy despite their circumstances. Where does this joy come from?

One final note that I want to point out is this: ‘westerners’ have a very skewed idea of the Islam world and the Muslim religion. Most of our information is surfaced and biased coming primarily from the media. And I just want to point out that out of the two countries and four villages that we have been to, consisting primarily of Christian people with only a small part of our stay being with Muslim’s, I have seen Jesus’ example most in the Muslim people.

Building Excitement

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As the trip is now only three days away I’m quite excited to venture back to Asia. I was there about nine months ago; however, this is going to be a completely different experience for me, as I have not experienced the third world side of Asia before. I think the part I’m most excited about is taking some pictures. As a photographer who is primarily interested in shooting photojournalism, it can be a frustrating task to find interesting subject matter to shoot in what has become such a familiar place like St. Stephen’s. That’s not to say that there are no opportunities to do photojournalism here, photojournalism can be done anywhere, it is just much more exciting shooting in an unfamiliar land. I think the biggest struggle for me in shooting during our trip will be remembering that I am on a team and not just out there on my own doing what I please, everything I do effects the whole team and therefore I must look for the appropriate opportunities to do my photography. I hope that I will have the opportunity to go into the more poverty stricken places within the countries we plan to visit as only a small portion of the country can be experienced in the more touristy or city areas. I am hoping some of my fellow photographers will be up for the challenge. All in all I think it’s going to be a great trip.