Alleah Salone and her friends.
The most memorable moment about this trip has been teaching. Getting to know the students and the teachers has truly been a blessing. I have grown to know the students so well, and leaving them has been so hard. As I looked at my students today I thought to myself, ‘why does it have to end?’ Today I showed my students how to use my camera so they could have photos of me with them. One by one they each snapped a moment that will never be forgotten. I will forever remember Kenya and the wonderful people I have met here.
The magic in this trip lives in the hearts of all the children that we’ve been able to befriend. Every morning, no matter how early, was started with a smile because we could look forward to a day full of our students, or better yet, our friends. Class 5 has touched my heart and I can honestly say I will never forget them. Not only are they the most adorable children, but they are so funny and charismatic as well. Ruth was always around to entertain everyone with a song and dance. John and Timo were always up to something, whether it be passing notes or winking at Becca and me while we were teaching. Best of all, I was groomed daily by the reaching hands of every student. Every child at my school had shaved heads, so my hair was a constant topic of gossip. By the end of this trip I’ve had my hair braided, brushed, and styled in every possible way. It was the little things like these that have made this trip so truly wonderful. I love my kids more than anything and the last day was filled with tears - it was like leaving my own children behind. Class 5 will always be in my heart and I’m so glad to have spent this trip with them.
My Final Dispatch, sort of.
Becca Rogers, by Fred Roberts
Between the power going out on our final day and a line of students wanting to write their final dispatches, Becca wasn’t able to do her dispatch. So I’m doing it for her. On the first day that the students taught in their respective schools, I met Becca and Allie at Gitinga Primary School. A sixth grade student, Peter, who lives near Batian’s View, volunteered to escort the girls home. He continued to do so every day that Becca and Allie were at Gitinga. Becca and Allie became very close to their students, especially some of the eighth grade girls. Becca and Allie reached out to these girls, as they did all of their students, not only as teachers, but also as friends. Such interaction takes time, patience and understanding, and to do so with those of a culture very different from your own is a very rare experience. And this is what Becca did each and every day.
The most memorable part of this trip has been meeting people who were complete strangers who welcomed me into their homes as a long lost friend. Their generosity and hospitality goes beyond words. They opened their homes to us in ways I’ve never experienced before. Why? I guess it is because this is the Kenyan way, and a lesson for me that I will never forget.
My second trip toKenya has given me a deeper appreciation for the Kikuyu culture and has allowed me to deepen previous relationships (and make new ones, of course!) with teachers, students and others that I have grown to love. One thing that I will take away is the balanced, caring, and reciprocal nature of friendships here – when you meet someone, they genuinely care about your well-being and show concern through their words, advice and actions. You naturally give just as much as they do and become more invested in a relationship than you may have originally expected. I’m going to miss the wonderful teachers and friends I made here and hope to return, as Jacinta said, “God willing.”
This is the photo of the leopard taken the first time we could see him clearly! We were lucky to have seen a leopard on our first day, which made this an amazing safari. Thank you to our driver – he was the best driver, always knowing what was going on and always giving us the best view of animals! Safari was my favorite part of the trip, and it will be stored in my memory forever.
Mr. Roberts, Mzungu master of the Kenyan universe, walks. Mr. Fred Roberts walks through the campsite. Mr. Frederic Roberts, often wearing his hat backwards, has put in thousands upon thousands of hours running. Running where? Running what? You must ask these questions; you must read these answers: he’s run intercollegiate cross country races, 100-mile trail races, and everything in between; he ran the East Africa NOLS branch based out of Naro Moru for 12 years; he’s helped to run a top private school in Tucson called St. Gregory College Preparatory School for the last 11 years; and here he appears to only be walking, but he is actually running this campsite. This campsite is a small part of a bigger trip that Mr. Roberts is running. This trip is a small part of a bigger idea that Mr. Roberts has formed in the minds of many students who have traveled to Kenya and taught in its schools. And this idea is being able to do more than you think you can do and doing it better than you feel you are able. This is Mr. Frederic Roberts.
Olivia Larsen our of her comfort zone.
Picture me out of my comfort zone. One of the things you learn in peer leader training at St. Gregory, the training you go through before facilitating the ropes course, is that learning occurs when one is out of her comfort zone but hasn’t reached a level of panic. I’ve been living in that area my entire time in Kenya.
For the past three weeks, I’ve been leaving my comfort zone consistently. Picture me standing at the front of a classroom, trying to seem confident while teaching a topic in science I only grasped superficially to students who have trouble understanding my accent and my colloquialisms; attempting to conquer natural obstacles in a forest; swimming in a muddy river or scrambling with Becca to find our way back to Batian’s View while lost on a hike. Picture me hyperventilating as I completed my final goal in Kenya by climbing to the tallest tree house at Batian’s View, and picture me looking up at the tree once back on the ground, proud.
Moments like those in which my limits were tested made being in Kenya an incredible learning experience. The challenges that I strived to complete have helped me grow immensely, and that element of Kenya, along with the amazing connections I’ve been able to foster with students and teachers at Manyatta, has made it one of the most worthwhile endeavors of my life.
Picture me catching up on my sleep as we make our way (or try to make our way) to Nairobi. It wasn’t easy to sleep in Mombasa airport during our 14 hour delay, despite how comfortable the chairs were. When I finally woke up I noticed everything around me. I didn’t know it at the time, but everything I would be doing this entire trip would be a wake up. I have noticed and learned things on this trip that have never even crossed my mind prior. Simply amazing! For that I would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible for me, especially my lovely mother.
Vicky Wang and her students
This is a picture of me and the standard 6 kids. It was one of the classes I taught in Shalom primary school. It was taken on my last day there, and will always bring back many memories of teaching these lovely pupils. They were so eager to learn, even if their learning environment wasn’t the best. I enjoyed every minute that I was teaching them, whether it was math, English, social studies or any other subject. Teaching is definitely the most memorable experience for me throughout this trip. I will miss my students so much when I go home, and one day I hope to return.
On our first full day in Kenya I take the students on a long walk. We walk along the main road and always pick up a few young Kenyans who accompany us, giggling. We visit three of the schools the students will be teaching and are introduced to the entire student body. After about three hours of visiting and walking, we arrive at this small hoteli, or restaurant. By this time the students are hot, tired and hungry. This little hoteli only serves local fare, ugali (maize meal) and sukuma wiki (stewed spinach and cabbage). The food is brought out and the students tentatively taste the meal. There are flies buzzing around, customers coming and going with robust greetings to the Americans, and a bit of dust blows by the open door. No, this not AJ’s at La Encantada! I love this first day and watching the students react to their new surroundings. The immersion has begun and many more experiences like this are on the way!
St. Gregory Dean of students