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Mace & Crown | October 23, 2017

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Global Café Introduces Students to Kenya

Kevin Muchiri explaining to students where Kenya is. Photo courtesy of the Office of Intercultural Relations.

Kevin Muchiri explaining to students where Kenya is located. Photo courtesy Office of Intercultural Relations.

Margaret Giordano
Contributing Writer

Native-born Kenyan, Kevin Muchiri, gave students insight to the culture of his home, Kenya. Global Café: Kenya was hosted at the Intercultural Center on Feb. 16 to introduce students to the vast diversity that the university holds.

Muchiri is currently in his ninth year at the university and is seeking his Ph.D. After leaving his hometown of Busia, Kenya in 2008, he came to the U.S. He wanted to teach students about his home country face to face, despite what information may have shaped their minds about their way of life and cultural activities already.

“So chill in Kenya, you know your neighbor. Here, I do not know my neighbors. The community aspect is what draws us closer at home,” Muchiri said when asked what he missed most about his country.

The event gave students a chance to connect with others from the Kenyan community. People were able to discuss what they had learned from Muchiri’s discussion and also got the chance to taste traditional Kenyan food. The menu for the night included mokimo, chicken and mandazi, which students described as very different from American foods, yet delicious.

“Since the U.S. is one of the most important countries, it is important that ODU should represent that they have many different cultured students and they can share what they learned with their own cultures and give some influence to them,” Hassan Mahmood, exchange student from Pakistan with the UGRAD program, said.

Students were able to learn facts about Kenya, including about the history of the region and when it gained independence from the British in 1963. They were taught some of the most common animals in Kenya out of the 25,000 species that the region holds to include lions, elephants, rhinoceros, buffaloes and leopards. African tribes such as Bantu, Nilotes and Cushites were discussed. It was also revealed why Kenya has had the best runners in the world, including Olympic Gold winners David Rudisha and Conseslus Kiprito. It was explained that these runners were so well trained due to the genetics of their thin calves, the terrain of the region and the long distance that the children run to school everyday.

“I am studying national relations and am interested in new cultures. I have little knowledge about the African continent and wanted to learn more. I learned a lot of information about the tribes. They have common backgrounds,” Marianna Portnyagina, graduate student, said.

Muchiri wanted to emphasize that life is simple in Kenya. He wanted students to realize that Kenya has a completely different environment than in the U.S. The welcoming atmosphere made it easy for students to ask questions and infer about the cultural differences and the way of life in Kenya.