St. Gregory Students Travel to Kenya to Teachby kenya on Jun. 06, 2012, under Life
By Fred Roberts
St. Gregory Dean of Students
For three weeks in June, 10 St. Gregory College Preparatory School students will be in Kenya to teach in several public schools near the town of Naro Moru. This will be the eighth St.Gregory trip toKenya, and not only is this a special trip for the Americans, the Kenyan teachers and students also look forward to hosting a new friend and sharing the local language and way of life in rural Africa. While inKenya, the Tucson students will share their experiences and photos here at TucsonCitizen.com.
Each Gregorian is assigned to one Kenyan teacher who will serve as his or her mentor. The students will be exposed to lesson planning, teaching techniques and classroom management strategies. The St. Gregory students will eventually prepare their own lesson plans and teach in the classroom. The subjects covered are similar to what is taught in America, but that is where the similarities end. The schools our students will be teaching in are very simple. Most are made of stone with corrugated iron roofing. “Windows’’ are openings with wooden shutters, but without glass. While most have cement floors, some are dirt, compacted by the bare feet of countless students. The blackboards are just that – sheets of plywood painted black. There are no smart boards or computers, and in fact only one of the schools the St. Gregory students teach in has electricity.
The lack of facilities does not deter the Kenyan students from being enthusiastic learners. They work hard and persevere, regardless of the challenging conditions. The young Kenyans are fortunate to even have a chance to go to school, and do not focus on what they don’t have. Instead they focus on what they do have and the opportunity for a better life that can only come thorough education.
In addition to teaching, the students participate in a significant community service project, with the funding coming from countless bake sales, pizza lunch sales and donations from the Tucson community. This year the students will be helping to build a new classroom at Gitinga Primary School. For one day, the Americans and the Gitinga community come together to dig the foundation trench, mix cement, cut iron rods, paint black boards and lay the initial stones for the classroom. While our cultures are vastly different, on this one day we will work as one to help the school’s students, and in turn help the larger community.
No trip to Kenya would be complete without seeing the wildlife for which this region is famous. For three days the students will explore Samburu Game Reserve, roughly three hours north of where they are staying. Below is a quote from one of last year’s students about her time in Samburu.
“I awoke this morning to the serenade of baboons barking in the trees above my tent. No, I wasn’t in Tucson any more!! A majority of us arose at 6 a.m., our mission to see cheetah and leopard, the hardest animals to find in Samburu. My most treasured memory of this morning took place before we set out on safari. I was getting ready to go and Dom and Ali told me to look at the horizon. As the sun peaked over the distant hills, two giraffe were walking lazily on the horizon’s edge. It was not yet light enough to see them clearly, but watching their humble yet majestic bodies glide across the land truly made me realize the beauty of Kenya.’’
We hope you enjoy our blogs from Kenya during the next three weeks.