Friday, March 7, 2008

March 7, 2008 - It's Official!

It is a little weird to put it in writing, but we received documentation today that we are now legal diplomatic residents of Kenya. I suppose renting an apartment and buying a car and having furniture made and all of the other things we have done should have tipped me off that this was for real, but for some reason the two little stamps in my passport have really made all the difference. I'm not totally freaking out about this, but maybe a little bit.
To help the reality sink in even more, my boss, who is the Chief of UNICEF's Education & Youth Services Sector, asked me to apply for a short-term consultancy (that means a paying job) after only one month as a volunteer. My work permit will take a few weeks to process but, if all goes well, I will start as soon as that is taken care of. Right now I have been collecting data from field officers on education services in displacement camps and schools hosting IDP children and then I analyze the data, write reports on the data, and attend meetings about the data on a daily basis. I also do A LOT of editing of other people's work. For my new (paid) position I will become one of the field officers! I will be working in Nairobi and Central Provinces (Central is a small province north of Nairobi) and, basically, will visit slums and IDP camps to monitor and evaluate the education situation as well as the UNICEF education interventions in those places. For one week a month I will travel with a driver security and a security officer (but usually no other UNICEF staff), and Kristoffer hopes to arrange his monitoring and evaluation (M&E) at the same time so that we aren't missing each other at home. Part of my job will be to recommend what actions the UNICEF Education Sector should take in the future, and to correct any mistakes that have been made. I expect to see a new side of Kenya and feel great about the prospect of directly impacting the education of some of the poorest children in Kenya.
Assuming it all works out, it is an exciting and interesting opportunity for me to learn new skills and broaden my experiences here. I will work on a 3-month contract first so that if I don't like the job or it isn't a good fit, I can still get a teaching job for the fall. If I do like it, then the contract will be extended and I will increase my chances of getting future consultancies at UNICEF. I am happy that my boss has enough confidence in me to think that I can do this job well, which is a very new kind of work for me to do. I also consider myself to be pretty brave in taking this job because it is definitely outside of my comfort zone.
Kristoffer has been on his field visit since Monday and comes home tomorrow (Saturday) night. I think he has seen and learned a lot more in this week and I am really hoping that he will write a blog to share his experiences and pictures. Christine and I did pretty well without him this week (taking lots of taxis!) and it was really nice for me to have her here. She will actually be here for one more week.
The saddest news is that we bought "24 Season 5" on boot-leg DVD from the Indian market here in Nairobi. We got through the first 23 episodes with NO problem...but then episode 24 was all screwed up so that we could hear the episode, but the visual on the screen was actually the first episode of the season. SO FRUSTRATING! Christine even went back to get another copy, but it had the same problem! So this afternoon we actually sat in the living room with our eyes closed listening to episode 24 and trying to figure out what action was happening during all of the music. I suppose when you buy a 24-episode bootleg DVD for $5 you have to be willing to accept that the disc is not perfect, but I will admit that it would have been really nice to see the episode!
LMW

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