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Kenya Outreach Day 2- Nicknames and Norwegians

June 21, 2012

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“Do you know what lollygagging means?” This question was posed to our driver as we were leaving the local grocery store. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it has the connotation of laziness and wasting time. This question was followed up with an off-color “knock knock” joke that had our driver rolling. When in a new country, try comedy as a quick way make friends. This strategy has been shown to be highly successful by our very own Mark Shallal-Ayzin who was made famous last year by his Celine Dion covers. Very funny and definitely memorable.

Our group last year was excellent. On my second trip, I can’t help but remember all the good times we had and would be great to have everyone back here in Kenya a second time around. Our group has expanded although we have a different cast of characters since last year, the overall feel and atmosphere is the same. This year we now have “John the Visionary,” “Dougie the Dog,” and “Dan Whatever.”

The new names and titles awarded today largely by one particular faculty member, and all have their backstories. The first was given to Jonathan Dzingle at a visit to to Kenya Methodist Univeristy (KEMU) for a meeting with faculty from the School of Medicine, Research and Development, Microbiology, Clinical and Laboratory Sciences. While we were waiting for them to arrive, John became “The Visionary” (see photo) with his pensive stares and ambition to revolutionize the water purification systems here in Kenya. Sounds like a career change, but he will be sticking to dentistry for the time being. The meeting began and introductions were given. Going around the table, we learned that some last names are more difficult to pronounce than others, particularly those of Eastern European background… Dan Valicevic (pronunciation guide to remember: Val-eh-seh-vic) was the second recipient of a new name, and is is nowreferred to as “Dan Whatever.” So here’s to everyone withdifficult-to-pronounce names – may you make your mothers proud and always correct mispronunciations.

The talks began and mainly focused on how KEMU may benefit from University of Michigan, and the hopes that the favor may be returned. This institution became an official university in 2006 and although young, it holds an appreciable level of wisdom and values that “education is gold” in this country, and understands that a partnership with UM would help advance their educational goals. The meeting concluded with customary tea and baked goods followed by a surprise visit from a couple of elephants apparently popular not just with us, but with the local students and faculty as well.

Back into the vans, the third title of the day was awarded, this time to Doug. Limited space lead to cramped conditions and Doug was the arguably fortunate in this aspect as he was “forced” to share the back seat with three of the four girls in our group. Doug is now jokingly referred to as “Doug the Dog.” All jokes aside, if today has any insight into how the rest of the trip will go, then this trip will be a great success. This is an awesome group.

Update: Unexpected guests showed up to dinner tonight at Kithoka Amani Center. Tonight we were joined by five Norwegian dental students and had a great time sharing both clinical and dental educational experiences.

These students are also teaching oral hygiene in a few of the local schools here. We decided to conclude our evening by helping them organize 600 toothbrushes and 600 toothpaste tubes into bags for their day tomorrow.
After all, we’re all here for the same cause right?

Jami Ballentine is a D3 who loves elephants and hates mosquitoes.

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