A Lesson from the TIST Quantifiers 

TIST/Kenya Trip 2015

Today we visited another farm and conducted more surveys. These surveys have made me better understand what the farmers needs are. The culture here is very different than the USA. These farmers are concerned not only about making money from the carbon credits but more about creating benefits for their community.

TIST has provided these farmers with training on conservation farming, hygene, drinking water safety and more. These programs have allowed the farmers to stay healthy and not spread disease, a serious problem in rural Kenya. They are very proud of their farms and have shared the fruits of their labor with us under the shade of their planted trees. You cannot get a fresher lunch than what I had today. Avacado, mango, macadamia nuts and sugar cane all pick minutes before eating.

We met with TIST Quantifiers today and they gave us a lesson on which trees to count…

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Warm Welcome

TIST/Kenya Trip 2015

Today we were welcomed to the cluster meeting with singing and dancing and encouraged to join in. (Video to follow with better wi-fi connection). It was a very memorable experience as is everything I’ve seen so far.

We performed more surveys with the farmers to gain more insight into their everyday lives. One gentlemen I surveyed spoke very good English. We talked about our lives and their differences. It was nice to hear that his opinion of Americans is that we work really hard. I found that interesting since my fellow students and I have been saying all week that they were harder workers than us. The Kenyans we have seen, of all age groups, do the most physical work that I have ever seen. Small children carrying armfuls of wood or elderly people carrying large sacks of mangos are seen all over.

I was able to see the inside…

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A Fun Day Off

TIST/Kenya Trip 2015

Today was our day off. Some of the NEC students played soccer against a professional team for fun. They worked hard but it was hard to keep up since they are not used to playing in this heat.



I met some friendly people on the sidelines. I met this young man who attends the University studying computer science. He is learning about ethical hacking and wished to continue his studies Germany. 



One thing I’ve noticed here is that there are a LOT of plastic shopping bags. They are in the ground everywhere both in town and on the farms. People use them at the markets all the time. This is definitely something I would like to look into when I get back. Before I came I assumed they used cloth bags or baskets that they made. I’m surprised that the local villagers would spend what little money…

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NEC Soccer goes global

Yesterday the NEC team was challenged to a soccer tournament at one of the local universities in Meru.  We had just enough players to field a team, and played hard – we lost the first game 3-0 (we made them work for it, though) and we won the second game 2-0.  Following are pictures from the tournament:

Mark Nowak as goalie, "protecting the ship."

Mark Nowak as goalie, “protecting the ship.”

Mark preventing a goal from the Kenyan team

Mark preventing a goal from the Kenyan team

Marcus Lindquist running neck-and-neck for the ball

Marcus Lindquist running neck-and-neck for the ball

NEC's own John O'Connor getting in on the fun

NEC’s own John O’Connor getting in on the fun

Jonatan Nillson and Marcus Lindquist

Jonatan Nillson and Marcus Lindquist

Ronsard Masamba making us proud

Ronsard Masamba making us proud

Marcus and Mark

Marcus and Mark

Stephanie Goulet and Marcus Lindquist

Stephanie Goulet and Marcus Lindquist

Eduardo and Theo Nkanfack

Eduardo and Theo Nkanfack

Marcus blocking the ball

Marcus blocking the ball

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Arriving for the match

Arriving for the match

Taking the field with Mt. Kenya in the background

Taking the field with Mt. Kenya in the background

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Meru Madness!!!

Stephanie resting in a Mango tree

Stephanie resting in a Mango tree

From Stephanie Goulet and Theo Nkenfack

We are two days into our great cultural adventure and already we are starting to witness the drastic difference between Kenya and Henniker. No one lost any luggage on our way here, everyone still has their passport, and there hasn’t been any sign of anyone getting sick just yet. Besides the fact that we are all baffled by the time change, everything else seems to be falling together fairly well. Being together with so many people that we don’t know much about and without any instant connection to the outside world due to the lack of Wi-Fi and inability to charge our electronic devices, we are forced to communicate with one another, which is quite rewarding. Today we were all split into three groups of six people each and went to three different locations in Kenya in order to conduct surveys with the TIST farmers in collaboration with two students from Yale University. The purpose of the surveys was to get their input on how they felt about TIST and whether they believed it was actually benefiting them. From experience today, it seemed as though one of the main barriers we had to conducting the surveys was not being familiar with the language commonly spoken here, Swahili.

As helpful as it was to have translators present with us, there was still the problem of having to explain our questions to the translator so they could explain it to the farmer. During the translation process, I’m sure there was some miscommunication. There were even times when the farmer seemed to know the answer to our question and begin answering, but the translator would cut them off to give us a different answer. Another group was having a problem where even the translators weren’t as helpful because the people of the area did not speak Swahili and no one in that group spoke the language either, producing a greater challenge compared to the other groups. After the interviews, most people from each group had their own unique stories to tell.

Samba was telling us about how, during his interview, hand gestures were used to portray the words “small” and “big”. Palms clapped against each other meant small while spread apart meant large. Some of the other people from a different group went to a school. When they walked into the classrooms, the kids in class one who were of a young age were super excited to have colored visitors come into their class, but those in the older class six seemed uninterested, staring blankly back at them. As they were leaving, one of the younger kids jumped out of the classroom, squatted down really low and began to spiritedly play sheriff at the group with his “hand” guns as they were walking away. Moments after that, more kids joined him to wave goodbye. Overall, we had quite the exiting day. Some had longer days than others, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience, however tiring it was, and will remember it for some time. We’re all eager to get out there and learn more about the Kenyan lifestyle.

Life in Kenya at the Gitoro Conference Center

While in Meru we are staying at the Gitoro Conference Center.  Attached are photos on the center,  It did not take long for us to take over the center and treat it as a new home.  Most of out time is spent outside, as the weather is a balmy 85 degrees and sundry, with a slight breeze.

Daily debrief in the commons area of Gitoro

Daily debrief in the commons area of Gitoro

Dinnertime at Gitoro

Dinnertime at Gitoro

A dormitory at Gitoro

A dormitory at Gitoro

Gitoro Conference Center

Gitoro Conference Center

A room at Gitoro, with mosquito net

A room at Gitoro, with mosquito net

Fresh Mangoes!

These images are from our first full day in Kenya.  We stopped on the way from Nairobi to Meru to visit a group of TIST farms about 2 hours out of Nairobi.  The farmers welcomed the group with incredible generosity, giving us bags and bags of fresh mangoes.

Our new friend taking us to the Mango grove.  All ago mango trees were part of the TIST program

Our new friend taking us to the Mango grove. All ago mango trees were part of the TIST program

Austin and Kellie devouring a Mango

Austin and Kellie devouring a Mango

Anita remembering the mangoes of her native Nepal

Anita remembering the mangoes of her native Nepal

The new "Mayor of Meru" trying his first Kenyan mango

The new “Mayor of Meru” trying his first Kenyan mango

Stephanie in the mango tree

Stephanie in the mango tree

Meng and David

Meng and David

The mango grove

The mango grove

The group avoiding the sun under the shade of Mango trees

The group avoiding the sun under the shade of Mango trees