I am a U.S. citizen born and raised in East Africa. I am an optimistic cynic, a self-reliant individual raised by a socialistic culture. I am a verbal processor and driven. I am creative and adaptable. I think strategically and from a multicultural perspective. I am passionate about global issues and international relations. I am a Christian, determined and inspired to influence the world by telling stories with understanding and accuracy. Here is a little of my own story.
When you are always the other, when some of the rules apply to you but not all, and some apply just to you, when growing up you either represent a country or a continent depending on where you are, when being different is all you know and the thing that gives you a voice, when normal is standing out - when that is the case you lose inhibitions and can say anything. I find myself giving voice to the other, the devils advocate. "- On My Childhood
I was born blue. I do not have evidence, but I consider my mother a reliable source. Something about a long delivery. My skin eventually reaching a homeostasis of white, but my coloring remained conspicuous growing up in a Tanzanian village.
The earliest corroborated story about me, much to my embarrassment, started with Chai Time (a sacred ritual observed daily throughout all sub-Saharan Africa). Despite being a toddler I punctually arrived at the small mission school house every 10:30 a.m. to receive my tea. This time though, I was asked an impertinent question by the teacher.
“Kaylen, where are your cloths?”
My clothes were hanging in bushes halfway along the trail home, but I didn't want her to know that.
Potty training me became a community project after I learned to walk because I would not stay home. In an attempt to hide my latest failure, I hung my clothes out to dry en route. Plenty of other toddlers ran around the village naked during the potty training stage so I hoped this strategy would keep my mother, or anyone else, from discovering what happened. Unfortunately I was sent to retrieve my clothes and it was reported to my mother and I still hear about it today.
My favorite metaphor for multiculturalism is a 3D perspective. Two eyes see the world from slightly different perspectives and our brains use the difference to correlate the images into the third dimensional world we see. Cultures do the same thing. My multiple perspectives give the world around me depth. If I stop and concentrate I can close one eye and see things from an American view, or a Tanzanian view. But usually the two views are coded into my brain in such a way that the image I see is their fusion. I often find that where others see double, inconsistencies or fuzziness my different lenses give it clear shape."- On a Multicultural Perspective
I don’t remember his name, just what he looked like. Stiff and swelled up all over, with ugly little holes covering his body. He didn't really cry, floating between consciousness and death at one years old. The day before a spitting cobra tangled itself up in his mosquito net and he came out with venom injected all over his body. His family took him to a witch doctor who managed to make him through-up three times, doing nothing to help. By the time they called us it was close to 24 hours later. We did our best.
Electric shock through a poisonous bite saves many lives, and was used effectively on me. The treatment is not used in the West, mostly because scientists are unable to explain it. But it is utilized in much of Africa, China, and South America. I held the prongs and Dad cranked our “zapper”. We were too late, he didn’t live. I was about ten years old.
Rural Tanzania was a fun and exciting place for a missionary kid to grow up, but it came packaged with the harsh and ugly realities of this world. At the time that is all I thought of it: life - the good, the bad and ugly all mixed in. Through talking to my American peers, I discovered that though the "ugly" is alive and well in all countries and contexts I did not receive the shielding most did. For many college was a time of discovering social and systemic injustice, the corruption of government, and their privilege. For me it was a time to discover that these things, real life, was not universally recognized.
I remember thinking it was funny how seriously and persuasively a friend of mine argued the reality of white privilege. I always knew I was privileged. I knew before I was a teenager that I was the only one in my friend group guaranteed to go on to high-school, who did not spend a larger portion of her day hauling water, who consistently eat fruit, who would receive a college education, who did not worry about starving in the dry season, who would see more of the world than just our village, who would drive a car and who could find an accessible path to influence in decisions with global ramifications. It left me heavily burdened to make good use of it.
I was 16. An eight-year-old albino boy, Manyashi, and his six-year-old sister, Mariamu, were days away from being placed in the orphanage my parents run. Three men came in the night and broke into the hut Mariamu slept in. They gutted Mariamu, skinned her legs, cut off some of her facial features and left her bloody remains in the bed. The next day Manyashi moved into my house.
Almost a year latter, BBC reporter Vicky Ntetema visited us. By then Manyashi was my next door neighbor and he came over to tell his story, with Dad filling in details a 9-year-old would forget. Ntetema told her story too. In 2008 she was the first to report Tanzanian witch doctors paying for the body parts of people with albinism. They used the body parts to make charms and sold them to politicians, gold miners and businessmen with the promise of success.
People knew about it, no one spoke about it, the powerful supported it. Ntetema was threatened before and after reporting the story, leaving the country multiple times for safety. Her visit was the first time she showed her face in Tanzania after publishing. I watched in wonder as her report rippled through the world and started to change things. Under international and domestic pressure the Tanzanian government pursued the murderers. They recently extended punishment to witch doctors, not just the people they paid. Manyashi’s future was entirely altered, with educational options that would otherwise have been impossible.
I changed too. Well acquainted with global issues and gifted with a unique perspective and unparalleled opportunities in comparison to my peers, I was desperate for a meaningful outlet. Meeting Ntetema, right before senior year, sparked an interest in journalism that would not die. Here was a job where my boldness and skepticism would be put to good use. My curiosity and energy were an asset. Most importantly, I could use my skills and story to influence the shape of the world.
In the face of transitional times, full of new and controversial ideas, when formally fundamental truths were being questioned, and the basics were not so basic anymore the Catholic Church appointed a prosecutor for canonization. To protect the venerated saints from infiltration of objectionable, foolish, or contradictory truths the Promotor Fidei would act as the prosecutor to any saint or miracle being presented by the Advocatus Dei. The Promotor Fidei’s duty was to safeguard truth by preventing rash decisions or unhealthy beliefs through examining every possible argument against it. The term in English means “Promoter of the Faith”, also known as the devil's advocate."- The Devil's Advocate