I am constantly surprised by the Michigan connection. I am sitting in a Nairobi cafe and I overhear two middle-aged men reuniting from their time at Calvin college, which prompts me to write this. As I type, every now and then my ears perk up at as they mention the name of another Michigan city.
When I arrived my first week I was surprised to find out that of the staff I was working with, one girl was from Novi, another lives in Ann Arbor, another worked at Google in Ann Arbor, and yet another’s dad is a UM professor. At the Kilimanjaro airport I met a UM grad at 4 in the morning as we waited for our flight and he gave me advice on climbing the mountain. He was heading to meet his sister, a UM SPH student interning in Malawi.
In Panama the Michigan connection was also overwhelmingly present – the women who owned the lodge we were staying at summered in Muskegon with her grandparents, a recent Peace Corps alumni was working at the lodge and was from Flint, a hotel guest grew up in Okemos and was visiting with friends from San Diego.
What does this mean? Probably nothing. Are Michiganders more adventurous or do we just not fit in at home? Choose your poison.
The above picture is from Mukuru slum in Nairobi.