Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Next Meeting

We met tonight in a room packed with at least 20 people. We now have a good, clear sense of who exactly is going on the trip (8 kids definite, with 2 more possible, and 4 adults definite with 1 more possible, for a total party size of 12-15). We have also decided to go with Shelly as our travel agent, feeling like having someone who is local and can actually attend our planning meetings is just too valuable to pass up.

Our next meeting will be a week from tomorrow, Wednesday, December 8, at 6:30 and once again in the same location. (Thanks, Patti, for hosting us!) At that meeting we will make our final decision about the exact dates of travel (April 15-24 vs. April 16-25) and will put down $100 each to hold the seats and lock in the price.

Shelly will be emailing each of us in the mean time with detailed quotes so that we can arrive at the meeting informed and ready to make a choice. Of the three undecideds, two will know for certain by then whether they are coming, and we will have some flexibility with adding or dropping one last seat later on.

Questions that came up: Getting visas here vs. in Nairobi, and the logistics of paying for transportation and food on the ground. I'll post answers as I get them.

I am so incredibly psyched about this!

P.S. The email that I tried and failed to print out tonight, I have cut and pasted into the two previous blog entries: "Safaris are a no-go" and "Center for Disease Control in Kisumu." You should read at least the one about the CDC.

Center for Disease Control in Kisumu

Also from Eden:

Regarding CDC -- this is where Jim works, and my kids have gone there for school field trips several times. The director is one of our best friends. I can ask them about a tour, and I think it will be quite possible. There are over 1000 people working there, in seven different "branches" (research areas). The biggest areas are malaria, HIV/AIDS, and emerging infectious diseases. There is a fascinating mosquito lab which my kids really like visiting. It is certainly the best-equipped research lab in Kenya. If there is interest, let me know and I'll set this up (it would reduce one of our days elsewhere). You would need to specify within their range of work what you want to see or learn about, since it is a huge organization.

I'm looking forward to hearing more after the Tuesday meeting!

I'm hoping that people can either talk to me at school or email me with areas of interest that I can pass on to Eden.

Safaris are a no-go

We have pretty much ruled out the idea of doing a safari. The part of Kenya we'll be in is rain forest, not savanna. I asked Eden about the possibility, and though she was encouraging, the logistics do seem to rule it out. She said:

It is very reasonable that people want to see the big safari animals if they are spending the money to come all the way to Kenya!! And the Kenyan safari experience is second to none!

What I would suggest is that we add an optional safari either before or after the main programme. The minimum would be three days -- a day to drive to Masai Mara, a day in the park, and a day to drive onward. The cost would be about $750 per person, inclusive of all lodging, meals, game drives, park fees, and transport. It is a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I would definitely recommend that those who can spare the time and money should do so.

There's no way to do a safari in less than three days, because of the driving times involved.

The Kakamega Forest experience will be *much* more educational than a safari.

At tonight's parent meeting, we reached a consensus that the extra time isn't something that we can swing this trip (never mind the extra money). We joked that it would be something to do next time...and then realized that that's not necessarily just a joke. But for now, even the kids who were the most excited about seeing elephants and lions in the wild seemed at peace with not getting to do it this time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Parent Meeting

A couple of people caught the typo. I meant Tuesday, November 30, not Tuesday December 30.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Parent Meeting Next Week

In response to my bulk email, I am hearing back that Tuesday, December 30 (a week from tomorrow) is what will work best for the next parent meeting. I anticipate that the time will be around 6:30 in the same location as last time.

Sadly, I can already tell there is NO date that will work for everyone. We will be deciding as a group when, where, and how to buy the tickets, so if you can't make it and you want input into that, you should contact me ahead of time and/or send someone to bring your input. This is really the only step that needs to be done by consensus. Once we're clear on getting the tickets, we'll shift back into the mode of asking questions and finding out answers, which is much easier.

We may need to have a secondary meeting to bring up to speed anyone who can't make this meeting. I'm happy to meet individually or in small groups with anyone who wants to.