A young Kenyan woman in Thailand

I turned in my thesis entitled “Poverty Alleviation Efforts in Kenya: Combining the Top Down Approach and the Bottom Up Approach” about two weeks prior to graduation, studied for finals, graduated, packed up my apartment, had a mini family re-union/goodbye party and within a week of being a college graduate, I set sail for the Far East. Well, not literally set sail…but I did board a 21 hours flight to Bangkok, Thailand (with an hour lay-over in Qatar).

Vanessa Onguti  standing at a window  in Thailand (Photo: Onguti)

I had been abroad alone once before, but nothing during my 6 months study abroad/stay in Egypt (amidst a roaring revolution) could have prepared me for my 10 months in Thailand.

Nothing at all! I am not sure I have ever experienced humidity to this capacity and I’m also not sure I’ve ever gotten so many smiles from random strangers and the cutest kids to ever grace the face of the planet.

From a proper rainy season, to singing the National Anthem prior to the commencement of each movie showing, to the array of foods (spicy, fried or steamed name it, they got it!) lined up on the street, Bangkok is without a shadow of a doubt the most complex and to a great extent the most intriguing city I have ever lived in.

Being a young Black lady residing in Thailand has certainly been interesting, to say the least. The numerous stares are typically filled with intrigue. I generally respond with a half-tickled-half-sad smile.

Tickled because the fact that that some people on this earth have never laid their eyes on a dark skinned person is rather hilarious. Sad because people of certain ethnicities or cultures still remain a mystery to each other.

A Thai Buddha statue (Photo: Onguti)

However, there is hope as the world increasingly becomes interconnected and more and more people are willing to venture into the unknown. It is of utmost importance to me that we as humans respect each other despite our differences and I earnestly believe that travel encourages closing the gap of mystery that lies between different peoples.

A smiling face from Thailand (Photo: Onguti)

Bangkok is truly a special place that I will cherish my memories from for the rest of my life. I have spent an entire weekend away with a family that barely (and I mean barely) speaks English and my Thai speaking skills are let us just say … gravely minimal.

I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of a special, special Church that led me to my dear, loving Life Group where I am able to worship freely. I have most certainly awakened my taste buds while also relinquished my fear of being in close proximity to tigers and snakes even.

Living in Thailand has been an eventful and awe-full 8 months. I look forward to end my time here with plenty of memories, friendships and experiences.

This story was originally written by Vanessa Nyaboke Onguti
Vanessa Nyaboke Onguti was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city. She has two younger brothers, a junior at Baylor University and a senior in a high school in Mckinney, Texas. She moved to the United States in December 2004 along with her family. She graduated from Centennial High school in Frisco, Texas before attending Baylor University. At Baylor University, she majored in International Studies and minored in Arabic. She graduated from Baylor University in May 2012 and left the country to teach English in Bangkok, Thailand at a school that is under the Patronage of the Princess. She hopes to be attending Law school in the Fall of 2013 in order to practice International Law. She is passionate about development projects that combat poverty, particularly in the African continent. She hopes to utilize law as a tool to help families that seem to be stuck in the perpetual poverty cycle that is poverty  by equipping them with skills. These skills would help them to generate an income and whisk them away from aid dependency. A few of her hobbies include travelling, talking, listening, laughing (rather obnoxiously at times), eating, cooking, writing, loving and living. She loves LIFE. Two fun facts about her: she takes great joy in sneezing and she witnessed the epic Egyptian revolution in 2011. You may keep up with her by following her blog

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