July 20, 2013 – Istanbul to Nairobi

I never thought I’d find myself in the airport in Istanbul struggling to get on (and get my bags on) a Turkish Air flight to Africa.  The flight into Istanbul includes a beautiful approach over the black sea lined with civilization that goes back more than 2000 years.  We safely landed (just a normal landing) and the passengers broke into instant and uniform applause (like you might hear after a game winning shot in a high school basketball game.)  I expect a perfect landing every time and as such, did not join the locals in their appreciation for the good work of the pilot.  I can sense, there is something different about this culture.


Istanbul airport was a vibrant, colorful place with a taste of the local culture.  I’m particularly glad that the Turkish air gate agents spoke (and understood) fluent English.  I’m quite privileged to grow up in a world (at a time) where my native language is the language of economics and tourism.  (We’d better brush up on our Cantonese.)  No internet (1WP) so I’ll resort to capturing a running log on David’s laptop.


Wonderful flight to Nairobi on Turkish air’s 737-800.  Business class seat right next to a native Ugandan (schooled at Macalester in St Paul, Minn with a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton – now living in Tunis doing development work in Africa).  Wonderful conversation about growing up in Africa, the challenges of development in Africa and the challenges he is facing raising 2 young girls in today’s world.  Alex was great to talk to – I’ll need to keep in touch.


I’m thinking a lot about what I expect to get from this trip – and the discussion with Alex put some of that in perspective. 


First and foremost – I’m anxiously looking for areas where I’m wrong: wrong in my assumptions, wrong in my judgments, wrong in my prioritizations.  Wrong in my preconceived notions about Africa and the work that I think Asante is doing there.  Maybe it’s the scientist in me but I love being wrong!  That’s the only time I can learn something new.


Second – I want my passion for reaching out, understanding and helping others ignited.  How better (I assume) than to see these kids in action?  Here I hope I am not wrong.  I’ve spent too much time “going through the motions” with Asante.  Donating, reviewing and commenting on strategy, tactics, business practices, and leadership are fine but only go so far if you have not seen the need, felt the impact, smelled the desire, and heard the joys and challenges of education in the 3rd world.  (and tasted the success).  My friend Huban me that all 5 senses will be stimulated and saturated in Africa…Hope so.


Third – it is a chance to develop my skills in photography and videography at the feet of a master – Heward Jue.


We arrive in Nairobi at 2:25 am local time.  I hope my travel coordinator got my reroute messages and contacted my driver.  We’ll see when I get out of baggage claim and immigration.  I’m diving into the pool without a cell phone – I hope there is water.


Driver got me right on time!  Perfect!  Water in the room!  Life is good…it’s 3:30 am local time now I just need to sleep.


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