Students hosting Kenyan visitors

Kenyan students at Grenaa Gymnasium experiencing everyday life in Denmark. This was the third exchange visit from Nairobi Academy an once again it was a very positive and educating experience for both the guests and their hosts.

”My host family, Ditte and her parents, is my best experience due to the warm welcome that they gave me. And also the whole of Grenaa Gymnasium since everyone was so friendly and willing to help despise the fact that they are so busy. The trip to the habour in Aarhus, the state university and the cathedral. I would like to say that everything was amazing an I wish to come back again.”
These were the words from 18 year old Achol Geng Deng at her departure from Grenaa Gymnasium. Together with 14 other students and two teachers from Nairobi Academy in Kenya she took part in an exchange visit at Grenaa Gymnasium and had been accomodated in the home of one of the school’s students, Ditte Olesen 3.a.

Hosting an exchange student

”I was thinking: It’s my responsibility now that he feels comfortable during the next week. There I suddenly felt the pressure of being a host,” explains Jonas Borg Hammer, 1.u, about the nervous feeling he had when picking up his Kenyan guest in Aarhus. ”But it turned out that it was easy to have a conversation between us. There are so many things to talk about because our countries are very different.”
Jonas’ classmate Eldina Gutic explains that her nervous feelings dissapeared prior to the visit as they became aqcuainted with each other on Facebook. Stine Blok, also a student in 1.u, explains that she had been worrying whether the guests would be dissapointed. ”We can’t take them on a safari,” she says. But she too found that she and her guest had plenty to talk about and that it wasn’t a problem to give her good experiences in the local area.

Climate, bycycles and trains on time

The weather seems to have made the biggest impression on the Kenyan guests. ”I have never been to such a cold place and experienced such cold weather in my life,” says Achol. ”But thanks God that my host helped me with warm clothes.” But also other aspects of Danish daily life caught her and her fellow students’ attention. For example bycycle lanes trains and busses arriving and departing on time is quite an experience when you are used to always going by car and bycycling being dangerous. ”I was surprised how small Grenaa is an yet advanced, ” as one of them remarked.
The Kenyan guests also noticed the differences between the school cultures. ”They think that we are less disciplined, because we don’t have many rules and because students and teachers call each other by their first names,” Stine explains. Several of the Kenyans students also wondered about the fact that going to school is free in Denmark and that students are actually receiving a state funded allowance.

Breaking down the stereotypes

Ditte, Eldina, Jonas and Stine all signed up to become hosts because it is interesting to learn about foreign cultures first hand. ”You tend to have some vague ideas of what it is like there,” says Eldina. ”I hadn’t really imagined that there are big cities in Kenya.”
”And now that we have experienced that their personalities differ just as much as among ourselves, we can’t stick to stereotypes any more,” Jonas says.
”I asked my guest, if he is used to cooking. He explained that he isn’t, because their maid does all the cooking, and he asked me, if we had maid,” Jonas says and is quite aware that next year, when he, Eldina Stine visit Nairobi Academy in return, they will aquire an even deeper insight in the differences and similarities between daily life in Kenya and Denmark.