Never did I think I’d wake up cold in Kenya. Our western mind tends to contort Africa as one expansive landscape of blazing hot saharas and densely rich tropics. Instead, just like America and Europe, Earth’s largest continent expands ranging climates and experiences equilateral seasonal differences. The cold chill of the evening rain and morning dew blankets me in a humble familiarity.
Growing up educated by the Xaverian Brothers and fortunate to work at their flagship school, I am familiar with the names, phrases, values, and charisms that line the walls of the African province. The Nairobi setting is instantly homey, and the differences are relatively few. While the WiFi signal might not be as strong as I’d prefer, that’s likely due to the Xaverian Brothers’ economic decisions rather than my Western judgments of infrastructure and greedy standards for instant connectivity. Mutual stories bridge the divide, and we’re instantly connected by memories of Brothers, both living and deceased. Mike Foley, Richard Angarola, Matthew Burke, Harry Eccles, Jim Malone, Ed Driscoll, Peter Fitzpatrick, Larry Harvey, the list is endless. Brothers we knew in different contexts and continents unite the Xaverian network across time and space.
While I share in hopeful optimism and intimate connections, I do fear of a time when Xaverian educated Americans will fail at recognizing the enduring personal relationships because of western stubbornness. That is to say, given the lack of American vocations and American missionaries traveling to Africa, perhaps it is time to receive African missionaries who can impart their wisdom upon the American province? Our excuse cannot remain of lack of educational standards, as the tradition of the Brothers and founding of many schools were done so by many of the “least experienced and under-performing” brothers.
As the sun rises and the anti-malaria pill-induced fever-dream fades beneath an extra-strong cup of coffee, I bow with the hope that small things will grow from these early daydreams.