Savannah Johnson
Savannah Johnson
Kenya 2015
I am Savannah Johnson, a recent graduate of Belmont University where I studied psychology and education. I am incorporating both of these areas of interest in my project at the Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER). WISER is an all-girls secondary school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya. Read More About Savannah →

The End of a Chapter

I like analogies. They make many of the complexities of life simpler in my brain. (And aren’t we all trying to make those complexities easier to swallow?) Whenever I am trying to mentally unpack something important, I usually have to make an analogy so I am able to think though it in a concrete way.  At times the analogies I come up with are a stretch, but I have been told that sometimes my comparisons are quite on point. (Shout out to Madisson Clarry and the conversation that lead to infamous backpack to relationship analogy.)

Time. Time is complex, and society has great ways of organizing it into seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years. But, for me to make better sense of my time in Kenya, I am not too worried about the minutes, hours, and months. I am living this journey in chapters, and I believe the first chapter of my journey just ended. (Time viewed in chapters in an analogy that is easily followed, so here we go.)

I arrived in Kenya with eleven amazing people who are now all off to start their own next chapters. I cannot fully express how grateful I am to have shared this summer with such an open group. Every moment was not perfect, and there were times when we were all driven crazy by one another. Despite our lower points, each person grew to truly care for one another, for this place, and for the WISER girls. (Also, if singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and cat walking in front of 120 WISER girls screaming your name does not bond a group, I am not sure what does.) To my friends from Duke, thank you for being a profound part of my first chapter here. Cheers to group dynamics and to my upcoming visit to Durham. Oriti. 


My first chapter here was threaded together by being accepted and welcomed by two different groups—the group from Duke and also the WISER community . What a gift. As the Duke group left this morning, I was left surrounded by the students, staff, and faculty of WISER. I am not sure I have ever felt so safe, cared for, and looked after. I feel as though I have a family here, and that is where my new chapter begins. I am transitioning from feeling like a visitor to feeling like a part of this beautiful school. Today is an important page turn in my trip. I have spent these first two months building relationships and learning as much as I can about Muhuru Bay. I now feel better equipped to take on my projects and to fulfill my purpose here.

As I tie a bow on this chapter, I am watching the WISER girls play a football match out my window. (Important side note: I played in a match yesterday – Duke & WISER faculty vs. WISER girls.  I woke up this morning sore, with scuffed up hands, a bruised thigh, and a bruised shin. Simply put, the WISER girls are amazing and tough and strong and I tend to fall down a lot.)

Things are winding down at WISER as the girls are days away from completing their term, but the past few weeks have been busy. In the midst of exams, they have completed a 5K race, competed in “Crossfire” (an academic competition), and hosted a Cultural Night where they performed dances, songs, and dramas. There will be a two week holiday before the new term starts. It feels appropriate to take a quick breath of gratitude before my second chapter here begins.


Run Like a WISER Girl. WISER’s 2nd Annual 5K race.


The very supportive water team at the WISER 5K.


Crossfire. Brilliant and Birel (both in Form 3) preparing for the academic competition.


Lake Victoria. Big Lake, Little Sav.

IMG_0896 (1)

There is nothing quite like a long talk with Leah Catotti. If only our talks solved the world’s problems and our questions had answers. All I can say is, “Onward.” And thank goodness you opened your heart to the OC.


Natalie, Andrew, and Collean. Thank you for late nights, early mornings, popcorn, and enough laughter to last me the rest of my trip.


Mouryne, Leah, and Judy. My home away from home.