Pioneer High School junior Anjuli Kapila treasures the time she’s spent in Kenya with the University of Michigan’s Kenya Summer Research Program. Participants of the two-week program implement clean water systems, teach, and hold public health seminars. Anjuli was particularly struck the time she was visiting an HIV/AIDS orphanage and met a little boy with a soccer ball.
As part of a reflection piece she wrote for her English class, she wrote:
“Our language was a universal language that required no words but clear communication was always present as we kicked the ball back and forth, smiled, and shrieked with excitement at the kicks and volleys. To be honest I was so impressed with Patrick’s soccer skills that I wished he could visit the U.S., because I knew he had a gift much more extraordinary than mine…and that’s when I realized that Patrick would never have the same opportunities that I have had and thus his dreams may not ever come true.”
Anjuli went on to write that from this experience, she realized that she takes too much for granted.
“And from that day forward I have tried to live my life as if I have no second chances because I know Patrick doesn’t. He has made a change for the better in my life and I can only hope that I touched his as well.”
The AAPS District News talked to Anjula about the experience:
Why did you decide to go on these Kenya Summer Research Programs? My father was born and raised in Kenya and we have family still living in Nairobi, Kenya. When the University of Michigan contacted my parents about participating in this project, they both felt it was a great opportunity to give back to that community. I was thrilled to be a part of this experience for the last four years. My parents are both professors at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and they participated in community service and research projects with other professors and students from the university. I helped the group conduct survey work and also provided community service at several elementary schools and high schools in the rural Meru region of Kenya.
What will you always remember about your trips? I will always remember the people and the beautiful wildlife in Kenya! Just like Patrick, I met so many other young kids that made a lasting impression on me. The kids are all very friendly and happy, even the kids in the orphanages that have so little. Yet they seem full of joy and happiness. They don’t have many possessions, but they get so much joy from talking to you. They are really present in the conversation and not distracted. Also the adults in these communities are very hard-working, resourceful and creative. They need to be to make a living!
How have these experiences changed you? Every time I go back to Kenya, it reminds me how fortunate I am. I have a loving family, a nice home, a great education, and I don’t have to worry about hunger or diseases or not having enough of anything. Most kids my age in other parts of the world, such as in Kenya, will never have the same opportunities that I have had. I can’t waste these precious gifts! I am thankful for all that I have, and if I complain, then I remind myself about all the less fortunate people in our world.
What do you want to do after high school? I know that I want to go to college to study science and eventually go into a health care field so that I can make a difference in the world and give back in some way. I am lucky enough to be able to have these dreams and know that these things are possible.