Between three cultures

El Camino is a diverse college, where there are students are from Central America, South America and even from Asia.

Just like there is a diverse student body, EC has professors from different countries as well.

Part-time geography professor Wanjiru M. Njuguna is from Kenya, Africa, and her mother is from England.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your culture?

A: We are actually Catholics. My grandparents are coffee farmers, so they export a lot of coffee. We used to wear typical costumes, but now a lot of people are more modernized. We follow a more western style of education. When I was a kid, I attended a catholic school and we had to go to church twice a week.

Q: Why did you move to the United States?

A: Actually my mother is a University professor and she was teaching at a university in New York, so we decided when I was getting ready to go to high school to move to the U.S. It was to find and get more opportunities for me and my siblings.

Q: What is a typical Kenyan food?

A: One important thing, is that in Kenya, we have more than 40 different tribes. My tribe is called the Kikuyu and among the Kikuyu, one of the most famous food is called “Githeri,” which has maize, beans, a little of onion. There are many ways of eating it. You can have it with potato or with avocado. (Also,) one thing we like to eat is roast goat, but it’s only for special occasions like a wedding or Christmas because it’s way too expensive.

Q: Have you ever worked with someone who has a different cultural background?

A: First of all, I haven’t worked with someone who is half Kenyan and half English like me. Everyone is from a different background, but I think people are also very similar and that’s what I try to focus on because everyone wants to be respected, they want to be treated nicely and well.

Q: Which do you like more: Kenya, England or the U.S.?

A: I like all of them. They are really different because every culture has a lot of things to offer and all of them have difficult aspects too. However, I love visiting the English side of my family because there are beautiful and large museums, the gardens are very beautiful and I really like the raining weather. But then in Kenya, I love speaking Kiswahili and plus I was born there. I have all these memories and I feel at home when I’m in Kenya. I like the U.S. because I spent most of my adult life in high school and college. I have had very good experiences here like learning to surf.

Q: Do you think EC is a welcoming campus?

A: For me, I found it very, very welcoming. My colleagues have been awesome. I’m a new professor at EC, so I use their advice a lot and they have been so helpful. They answer my questions.

Q: Why did you choose geography major?

A: That’s a long answer, but I love being able to out into nature and say “oh that’s an alluvial fan” or “that’s a composite volcano.” I enjoy going for hikes or going for a walk and it’s nice to say I know that rock type.


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