My journey in the United States of America, begun a few years back, when I enrolled at the Boston Berklee College Of Music to pursue my passion for music. For two years, I was able to go to school without any interruption. This was until I ran out of funds
I did not want my dreams curtailed and for this reason I transferred to Worcester Quinsigamond community college. I also had to find a way to meet the tuition fees and for this reason, I started working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
I soon realized that the commute from home to school was not reliable, and this forced me to buy my first car, which made me part with $500, or Ksh. 49,000. I was then working for two nursing homes. As the winter season in 2013 was approaching, I realized I needed a more reliable car, and with some savings from my two jobs, I upgraded my car by trading it in for a Honda Pilot! Despite my financial constraints, I viewed this as an investment in the work I had put in, especially having to work in the night shifts and double shifts
In order to maximize on every opportunity available, I added one more job, working as an aide to a special needs student at Ed Sullivan Middle school in Worcester. All this time, I was still going to music school at Quinsigamond. My thirst for studying music could not be quenched. However, the imbalance in sleep started affecting my output in class. This is because as I took on more jobs, my sleeping hours had to reduce, sometimes sleeping for only 3 hours. In the year 2014, I took a break during the spring semester to focus on working full time.
It is therefore same to conclude that between the years 2014 and 2015, I focused more on working than on school and choices have consequences-I failed in my classes. The irony was that the jobs allowed me to afford the tuition costs, which, as an international student, were very high. But see, I had not time to focus on the school work and as a result I failed. However, there is no other way available to me that I could use to meet school fees. I was not eligible for Finance Aid which is given to citizens or legal Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders). In addition, I could not get student loans because I did not have an established credit history, and as such, to get such loans required one to have a cosigner. No one was willing to be my cosigner. The systems are so strict.
The amount of work I was doing was reflected only in my payroll but not in my performance at school. Whereas in 2013 my total yearly income was $28,000 (Ksh. 2,500,000), in 2014, I had made $58,000 (Ksh. 5,220,000), and this, despite working as a CNA.
However, I would soon realize that I was paying a high cost in terms of my sleep, convenience, and peace of mind, just to get to a place where I could afford to pay for my music studies. I was also pursuing a different path, in this case nursing, to help me reach the destination of my aspiration-music. This was not making sense.
Luckily, sometime in 2014, Berklee, my original university where I had completed 2 years of study, started an online degree. They invited students who had not completed their studies to reapply. It was a good break for me. I September 2014, I applied and was reenrolled.
In March 2015, I decided my sojourn that far was enough. I left America and went back home. I reasoned that the same effort of working night shifts, and going days without sleep, could be applied to farming projects, and teaching music in Kenya.
The shift from America to Kenya has had a few hiccups though. You see, in America, the systems are very efficient and straight forward. I now have to learn how to navigate around the systems in Kenya. However, I have a wealth of experience and a desire to learn, and work to fulfill my goals despite the change.
I am still heavily invested in music. I will be soon meeting up with the director of Cultural Music Institute (CMI) to discuss how and what I can contribute as I also look to reconnect with the Kenya music scene
My five years in America have taught me and changed me. It was a learning sojourn. I now know that part of attaining success lies in knowing how to be self-reliant. If I can work hard in America and make it, I can do the same in Kenya.
America allowed me to dig deep inside of me and reach for the inner strength that allows one to stand on the two feet. I am also aware that Kenya is not at the same spot I left her. I am learning that I have to prove myself here too and nothing is given on a on a silver platter. I have gotten the grip!
America taught me to mind my business and not be swayed by mob psychology or what others are doing; that I should move at my own pace. When you go to Diaspora and come, back things are not the same as you left them. And this is true to time. Things move on. Peers marry as well as get married, and even have a few kids! Peers also get established in the business world. So you get to learn that everything rests on our daily efforts and actions. More importantly, we have to stay present and keep asking God to use us NOW and be fully present to opportunities.