Monday, September 26, 2011

And Who Are You?

Hey guys!

First off I just want to say this blog expresses only my views and thoughts, has nothing to do with the charity, and could have occurred at any school in the world. I still love Africa and I love USIU.

So I have always promised to be open and honest in my blog, so here is me being honest about my most horrifying moment at USIU. The names have not been changed, for the innocent have no reason to be ashamed.

The reason I came home for the summer is because I was sexually assaulted by another student first semester. His name is Guled and I thought he was my friend.

I will not describe the attack as there is a line between honesty and having a private life. Let me say that I did get away with some severe scratches and a hysterical mindset. I ran to a friend’s house and cried in terror and humiliation.

The next morning it turned out things were going to get worse before they became a complete and fucking shitstorm.

I went to my school for help and did everything that was asked of me. I wrote statements, went to the clinic (given a tetanus shot and antibiotics), broke up with Wilson, felt like a public pariah, has my life put on trial, was no longer allowed to have boys in my room, had to switch classes to avoid him and people talked to me about it as if I had made it up or it wasn’t a large deal.

I did this all thinking I would get justice and after a disciplinary hearing was given the verdict that Guled would be suspended for 2 semesters, meaning until the end of this current semester.

It was this knowledge with my summer home that allowed me to come back to USIU.

So imagine my surprise when I saw my attacker in the library.

The school had let him back on campus, after one semester, and without informing me.

This presented a delicate situation.

My absence along with him being back fueled a ridiculous rumor mill with people thinking I made the whole thing up. But the rumors were not the worst.

I was hysterical when I first saw him, unable to go to class, to eat, to sleep for period longer then 4 hours or to speak to friends. But that was not the worst.

People came up to me and talked to me about my attack as if it were no big deal and wondered “would I squash the beef”? But this was not the worst.

The worst was feeling so betrayed by the school. The worst was living with the knowledge that I had gone through all of this for nothing.

The worst my girlfriends telling me about their own sexual assaults and how they refused to go to the authorities to avoid an experience like mine only to receive no justice.

That was the worst.

So now what was I to do?

My last blog was about how to I blend into Kenya? How do I maintain my background as well as live and work here?

But now my question is - what do I have a right to change?

After weeks of deliberation and wondering what my next move would be I decided that at this point I had a right to do whatever I damn well pleased. I decided to stomp my goddamned feet.

The way I did that was to walk over to the Vice Chancellor, President and real leader of this university, Dr. Frieda Brown, and ask for a meeting. To me delight this woman said yes.

Today was that meeting. I spent the first 20 minutes of it crying.

And the wonderful, beautiful, delightful Exhilarating thing was that this woman came down on my side and promised to look into my case.

But then quite suddenly, in reaction my stomping foot, the ground shifted.

It seems that I am the first girl to report a sexual assault at USIU. Woah. Now either I am a terrible anomaly or men here have been getting away with this shit for way to long.

Suddenly Vice Chancellor Brown was talking about policy changes, mandatory counseling, a women’s empowerment group- No! A women’s empowerment seminar! (My idea) - New training for the entire faculty, basically what amounted to a complete system overhaul.

And may I reiterate. Woah.

And with a pep talk and a promise to get back to me in 48 hours I left her office and stumbled into the daylight.

But now I wonder, do I have any part in this overhaul?

Is it my responsibility now to make sure all these things happen? Should I be the one to encourage open communication about this subject? About any subject?

Could I possibly have that kind of strength in me?

The thing is I’m a little exhausted what with the assault and the work with Small Planet Big Plans and the drought to take care of. I’d also like to fit a date it at one point or another.

If I become active in this cause then not only will my story be public (which it kind of already is) but I have a feeling the boys won’t be so friendly.

But if the boys are going to stick together like that (because god help us all. It can’t be a whole campus of assholes can it?) Then shouldn’t us women too?

I’ve always said that every facet of life is intimately related, and I also believe that about people. So shouldn’t all of the women here, regardless of class or creed, stick together to scream we will not take this shit a second longer?

And if all of us women have a responsibility to each other then do I have a choice but to scream at the top of my lungs until some things start to change around here? Isn’t it my duty to reach out? It seems I have no options but to do my part.

But then again I question. Just who the hell do I think I am?

I guess the answer is I am the first woman to go public as a sexual assault victim at this school. And I do not feel ashamed one little bit.

Oh and about those rumors? I forgive the girls for spreading them. I think it’s mostly weak minded girls who feel that need to be “one of the boys”. But if anyone gives me an ounce of crap I will have to correct them quite severely. Although I doubt anyone will be that brave.

Anyway guys here I am once again laid bare. Hope you enjoyed it.

If anyone wants to e-mail me about this one I can be reached at

Stay safe boys and girls!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nigerian Drunks and Other Things I Have No Buisness Writing About

Hello esteemed readers,

So I have been in Nairobi about a week and things are…interesting.

First off I had no idea my leaving in the middle of the night without saying anything and then returning unannounced as if nothing had happened would cause such a splash. Who knew, eh?

No but seriously every day I get yelled at. Yelled at well getting my coffee, going to the library, waiting for a matatu, etc. But in a good way.

Being back has really gotten me present to how much I love Kenya. I let all the nastiness of first semester cloud my judgment and forgot how amazing it can be here. I had this epiphany as my head was slamming into the ceiling of my matatu.

The interesting thing about this semester is I have interaction with the exchange students which makes me weirdly uncomfortable. I’m so used to being the only white American around and now I know so many- am I not special anymore - but the weird thing is when I want to explain something to one of them I have no idea how.

First off I don’t want to come off as a know it all bitch. “Oh I’ve been living here for over a year, I know everything, la deed a”. No one likes that girl.

The thing is sometimes they say things or do things that just feel so inherently wrong and I can’t explain why.

The second thing is who am I to explain a culture not my own to them? Isn’t that a bit arrogant to assume I know more then them? Or that they can’t learn it themselves?

Can anyone really know another culture?

Not to mention I have no business as I seem to be getting myself into enough trouble so I have no business giving advice.

Thus the title.

One of the things that kind of embarrasses me, and this sounds silly, is that I’m a parrot. I tend to adapt pretty quickly to my environment adopting the accent, gestures, etc. the problem, you ask?

Well I sound like kind of an asshole.

When I’m speaking Swahili and my accent mimics Kenyans that all fine and dandy but what about my English; if I replace “stop that” with “we we” or I adopt the African accent and drop pronouns like my peers am I adopting their culture or am I just a dick? Also what does it mean for my culture back home?

I’m kind of struggling for an identity all the time because as much as I don’t want to lose my home, I also want to blend in with my friends and a place I consider home.

I guess the question is really who the hell do I think I am?

The past summer at home was more about facing my past so I could move forward, so now that I’m at this magic healthy move forward place where shall I go? Is it in an African direction or do I move back towards the west?

Last Friday I was at a bar and a very drunk man approached me as I lit my cigarette. He came up and told me how light my skin was (um, really?) and asked how I got it. Now I have no idea why I said the next thing I said.

Nikko point 5

Meaning I am half black half white.

I then proceeded to convince him in Swahili and sheng that my mother was a white and my father a Kenyan and blah blah.

Now I will say that he was pretty drunk and the club was very dark but I was actually quite proud of myself. First because of the Swahili but second because I’d been able to convince someone that I belonged in that bar, that I wasn’t an outsider.

Except why did I feel like I needed to be African to have a right to be in that bar? I had friends there, who know I’m not at all black, I had a drink, and I could dance damnit! Why did I feel the need to lie?

I kind of feel like betrayed my family and friends and culture back in Chicago by lying. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, so why make things up?

Of course it was pretty cool.

The next one should be written from the mission!!