This morning we awoke at 6:00 am to have breakfast at 6:30 am. Breakfast was amazing as usual, prepared by our wonderful Bunduz cooks. Breakfast consisted of fried plantains, sausages, beans, toast, and fresh fruit. After eating breakfast, we prepared boxed lunches to get ready for the journey ahead and a busy day.
We hopped on the beast of a machine, the HMS Tusker (a large retrofitted Scania truck), and drove two hours across Nairobi to the United Nations headquarters. The distance itself was short but turned into quite the slog with heavy traffic. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by our tour guide, Joy, who gave us our UN tour passes (only after we had passed through security!). After an introductory presentation about the UN and its different departments as well as its goals and programs, we headed on a tour of the extensive compound. In the presentation we learned about the six official languages of the UN (English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic) and that Nairobi is one of the four main headquarters, along with New York, Geneva, and Vienna. On our tour, we talked about many of the UN’s programs such as UNICEF (for children’s rights), UNMAS (removing land mines), and the UNEP (environmental program). Joy then led us to a conference room where delegates meet to talk about policy and other issues. Afterward, we took a tour of the courtyard and surrounding gardens, which were filled with trees and sculptures given to the UN from other nations. Some of the most interesting sculptures depicted a variety of environmental issues such as climate change, poaching, and deforestation. We were then lead to the UNEP building which is known for its green initiatives such as its use of natural lighting, collection of rainwater, natural heating and cooling, and use of green energy. To finish our tour we were shown the memorial garden that was planted for the 200 individuals that passed during the terrorist attack on the US embassy during 1998.
After the tour, we boarded our truck and had our boxed lunches on the way to our next stop, the National Museum of Nairobi. The museum consisted of a variety of exhibits including birds of Kenya, mammals of Africa, the history of Kenya, the evolution of humans, and Kenyan traditions. We then headed to the herpetology exhibit (Serpentarium) with live snakes, tortoises, and a variety of lizards. There was also an aquarium in the same location with plenty of native Kenyan fish. We saw a variety of venomous snakes including black mambas, puff adders, carpet vipers, and cobras. We even had the amazing opportunity to interact with a young African rock python and two chameleons. Last on our list was stopping through the museum’s gift shop to get some trinkets and then we headed back to the Kolping Conference Centre, tired after our long day of excursions. After dinner we did a ‘debrief’ of the day and discussed the many values of museums like the one we visited this day.
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