You should write a blog. Yeah, right.
This is a thank you post.
There are 196 countries in the world. People from 51 of those countries have read an entry from this blog richardinkenya. This is the 126th post I have written in four months, and I have been read more than 20,700 times. This was not expected when I created the blog in December prior to my departure into the unknown.
What a brave new world in which we live. The last time I lived abroad for an extended period, the only other time, was in 1981 when I was twenty years old. I spent September to June at the University of Glasgow my junior year of college and my trip to Scotland was the first time I had ever flown in a plane. My journey and my thoughts were private, and the world in which I lived was simply isolated. I wrote letters and sent postcards and looked forward to receiving letters in the mail. I lived in a single room. I used a pay phone three times during the entire year to call home I think, and I had to master the complication of using an operator and calling collect. I was out of touch and on my own and independent and it was normal. I started completely alone and had many friends and acquaintances by the time I left. I had to solve every problem by thinking of an answer or asking for help. I knew nothing and had to learn everything. You try understanding the Glasgow dialect. Living in Scotland helped make me who I am today. Glasgow is BRILLIANT!
On this Fulbright experience in Kenya, with my middle aged self, I chose to write something every day as a way to combat being alone. The world is more public, more connected, and my simple thoughts as I wandered around alone in Africa touched every facet of my life immediately, and that is what it means to live in 2014. With one posting I touched family members and friends, friends from high school, friends from college, students I taught in high school in the 1980’s, and students I taught in the 1990’s, the 2000’s, and the 2010’s at the University of Cincinnati. I heard from people I don’t keep in close contact with, from former teachers, from people I never in a million years would have guessed would find my African musings interesting. I have loved writing every day, and loved the conversation it has generated with people from every decade of my life for the past 50 plus years. I have been read by and contacted by strangers. You have made me smarter. Thank you. Asante sana.
The intense crucible of four months in Kenya allowed freedom and structure as a writer. It was contained, intense, and had a clear beginning, middle, and end. I wasn’t writing to write, I was writing to share the experience of being in Kenya.
To those of you who took the time to send a comment, to let me know I was heard, thank you. I have loved sharing a few minutes with you, communicating through time and space from here to there. The posts I expected to generate interest were often met with silence, and the posts that I tossed off quickly often resonated the most. I learned about writing, I learned about myself, and I learned about you. Asante sana. Thank you.
It was difficult to feel I had something worthy to say every single day for the past four months. I understand a little better now the pressure of being a writer, of never letting yourself off the hook, of writing whether you feel smart or worthy that day or not. Just write.
As expected this blog was most popular in the United States and in Kenya.
I am pleased that people have read my blog who live in Timor-Leste, Monaco, Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. In Africa I have been read in Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania. I am popular in Ireland thanks to Celine Kiernan and I am a hit in Luxembourg thanks to Christine Probst. Who was that person in Bangladesh who read about my life in Kenya? The first person to read my post in the United States every morning was always Kathie Brookfield, usually followed by Kim Crabtree. Asante. I have support from a circle of friends who always take the time to read and made multiple comments throughout the four months: Marge Hilliard, Bob and Beverly Croskery, Beverly Thomas, Michael Lippert, Eydie Cohen Mankowski, Katie Stuckey Rushing (not yet eaten by a lion), Betsy and Fred Bressette, Connie Naber, Michael Littig, Peter Ajang, Diana Maria Riva, Morgan Rosse, Teresa Mattimore, Patti Hall, Stephanie Cotton-Snell, Matt Hill, Connie Naber, Ho Young Cho, Beth Sutinis, Christine Walker, Gabriel Kimani, Carolyn Cork Greer, j. Ed Araiza, Austin Opata, Brenda Mwaniki, Sebastian Kimani, Michael Mwangi, Njonjo Kiroga, Nancy Aluoch-Oluoch, Brenda Benzin, Bartley Booz and Paul Shortt. Thank you for coming to and being in Kenya with me. My wife Lauren and her sister Lissa let me know they were with me every single day. Asante. I am so lucky.
I wish I could throw a world appreciation party and get all of us together. It would be the most amazing group of people ever assembled in the world. It would be my way of thanking the world for this experience and for those of you who helped make this semester in Kenya possible and those of you to whom I have felt very close these past four months.
This blog has not been about me in Kenya. It has been about us talking together about the world.
I would call our party richardintheworld. We would sing and dance.