Kenyan Students Share Love of Learningby kenya on Jun. 17, 2012, under Life
June 15, 2012
By Vicky Wang, St. Gregory Class of ‘13
Hamjambo! It’s Friday! We have been teachers in primary schools for one week. I am now getting used to the teaching system here and I am becoming familiar with the teachers and students. Teaching in Kenyais actually quite enjoyable because of the appreciation shown by the students. They stand up and greet me every time I enter the classroom and they always say “thank you, teacher” after class. Even though they don’t have the best environment – some are lacking pencils and erasers, and there is usually one textbook for two students – all are eager to learn.
I’m teaching at a boarding school called Shalom. It is a new school and tomorrow will be their one-year anniversary. In Kenya there is the tradition of slaughtering two cows and having a huge feast for big events such as this. Along with eating all of the meat, the other parts of the animal are used for other things. For example, they will sell the hide in the market to get back some of the money they spent on the celebration. I was fortunate to witness the ceremony where they sacrificed the cows – it was such a new experience for me. The ceremony was quite scary, but all of the kids were in a circle watching it happen. Tomorrow I will go to the anniversary ceremony, which I’m really excited about.
Tonight Sawyer decided to stay with the teachers in their dorm and help with the cooking. The teachers told me that all the parents would come and join us, too. There will also be performances by each class and speeches, which I’m looking forward to.
In the afternoon we went to Irigithathi Primary, Emily and Daphne’s school, to see a traditional Kikuyu musical performance. The performer played several old instruments, sang, danced and also told the crowd several jokes, which had everyone laughing. I laughed because everyone else was, but I had no idea as to what he said because he was speaking in the Kikuyu language. We all enjoyed it very much.
During my time there I talked to a 14—year-old boy name Joshua Nguni who is in Standard 8, the equivalent of our 8th grade. He speaks English very well and knew a lot about America and the world. A 14-year-old student in America would normally be in secondary school. I asked him why he is still in Standard 8 and he told me that this was actually his second year of Standard 8. He said that while his grades were good enough to go to secondary school, his family couldn’t afford the school fees. Because primary school in Kenya is free, his dad had him repeat Standard 8 rather than be at home and not learning. Joshua is hoping that by the time he finishes Standard 8 for the second time this December, his family will have the funds to send him to secondary school.
Joshua also told me that his mother left him and his brother with their father and moved toNairobito look for work. The father has not had a job for more than two years. His story shocked me. I’m sure there are countless kids in the same situation or worse. I hope that through my time inKenya, I can share these stories and maybe we can do something to help. St. Gregory students are doing a great deal to help these kids, and we need to keep it up in the future.
Back in Tucson, a Friday night normally means that it is a time to relax and have fun, and that is what we are doing tonight. After another delicious dinner prepared by the head chef Ngigi, we are going to watch a movie. And I think Ngigi will also have popcorn and chai for us! This will be a very special ending to another full day in Kenya. Good night!