St. Gregory travelers meet their studentsby kenya on Jun. 09, 2011, under Life
June 8, 2011
By Christine Porter, St. Gregory Class of ’11
Kenya Dispatch 2
After three days of travel and feeling the effects of jetlag, last night I curled into my bed and fell fast asleep. I slept very well and I woke up this morning to actual roosters crowing, which satisfied my childhood visions of roosters instead of alarm clocks.
Batian’s View is beautiful. There are many different buildings in the compound, and the girls are staying on the second floor a building fondly called Ndovu, which means elephant in Kiswahili. We have a beautiful view of farms near and far, and the Aberdare Mountains, which are 40 miles away. There are a lot of farms here growing maize, sunflowers, and many other vegetables. This morning’s adventures were fantastic. Everyone woke up and came down up for breakfast at 8:30 and we were delighted to find Swedish pancakes, bread, sausage, mango and ndizi (bananas). Needless to say, I ate a lot. The food here is very different, but it is all delicious. We eat vegetables for the majority of our meals, and the staff here at Batian’s View prepare everything so well. I’m hoping that I can make it into the kitchen sometime to learn how they make some of the traditional foods.
After breakfast we all got on our tennis shoes and we walked to Manyatta Primary school. As we began to walk in through the gates, the younger students ran out of their classroom with their arms in the air, cheering very loudly. This warm welcome reaffirmed why I came to Kenya. Our group all grinned at each other while the children came running to us. These small Kenyan children are absolutely adorable. Every single one of them wants to shake your hand and touch our skin, because it seems so different to them. After touring Manyatta, we visited Irigathathi and Gatinga primary schools. The small children exhibited the same excitement, and even the older students waved and smiled at us. They’re very excited for us to teach and I can’t wait to visit my school, Kuhuho, tomorrow. I’m teaching with Lila, of Atlanta Girl’s School, and we both are eager for tomorrow morning.
After we visited these three schools, we went to lunch at the local hoteli (Kenyan restaurant) and had traditional Kenyan food. We had chapati (a pita-like bread), ugali (maize meal) and sukuma wiki (collared greens). Every day we have lots of chai, which is so delicious. After we had lunch we came back to Batian’s View pretty tired. We’d probably walked about five miles, some on dirt roads and some on trails. The trails are made by the people who walk them every day, and they tend to be along the edges of farms. They cross small streams and at each fence a small ladder is in place so it is easy to climb over the barbed wire. No one minds us passing through their farms, which I don’t think would be the case in the U.S. The people we pass are very friendly and always smile and greet us after our exuberant “jambos.”
Tonight, the head teachers of our schools came to Batian’s View to meet us and discuss our upcoming teaching. Head teachers are the equivalent of principals in the U.S. They explained the schooling system from the top government officials down to each school here, and answered all of our questions. We learned the format of creating lesson plans, and they gave us some hints and tips for teaching effectively. They’re all very kind. My head teacher, Bwana Elias, was wonderful. We discussed the Kenyan learning structure and how some of the students who are very talented miss out on college due to the flaws in the educational system. He seems to be very wise, so I hope to learn a lot from him.
So far I have had quite an adventure and I feel like I have been here for at least a week, even though it has only been a little over 24 hours. Kenya is absolutely beautiful and I loved waking up to see the huge peak of Mt. Kenya sneaking out from behind the clouds. The weather is very sunny and it is cool at night. We just finished a short Kiswahili lesson and I am getting sleepy, but ready for my big day tomorrow at Kuhuho!