“Jambo!” St. Gregory students visit the schools where they will teachby kenya on Jun. 07, 2013, under Life
June 6, 2013
By Cecilia Nicholson, St. Gregory Class of ’13
“Jambo!” we yell waving our hands to the shop owner standing in the doorway. “Jambo!” he responds, waving back with a large grin before we disappear down the dusty dirt road. To the people of Kenya we are foreigners, but I think it might be interesting to them if they knew that we already feel right at home. And it is only our second day here.
There are 12 of us in the group, coming from Tucson and Atlanta. Some of us met for the first time in Dallas a few days ago. One may think that putting a group together like this may be cause for some discomfort, especially as we all are experiencing a place that is so new, and sometimes uncomfortable for us. Not so. With this particular group, it seems that we all have known each other for years. We aren’t just cordial with one another. No, we are far beyond that.
Today was our first full day in Kenya, and Mr. Roberts didn’t waste any time helping us get familiar with the area and the schools where we would be teaching. To do so we would be walking, a lot! We visited four of the five schools we will be helping, the fifth being too far away for even Mr. Roberts to want to include in the journey. We spent about a half hour at each school, and then walked to the next, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings and talk as we walked. We shared school stories, personal interests, and any thing else that could pop into our heads while walking in rural Africa.
While at times it can be hard to be in a new place, especially in the first few days, feeling comfortable with the people you are with makes a journey such as this much more enjoyable. We had a great time hiking through the thick undergrowth along the Naro Moru River on our first day and sharing our music choices; walking miles on a dusty road discussing college options; walking into unfamiliar schools to meet unfamiliar faces yet feeling confident because we are with friends; laughing along with one another as the Kenyan children laughed at the way Pierce says his name; not caring that more than 20 little kids are trying to shake our hands at the same because the same thing is happening to each of us; laughing at ourselves as we crowd into a mini-van and bumped along the rutted road back to Batian’s View. These are just a few examples of our time together and opportunities we have had to learn more about each other, and I have a feeling there will many more to come.
While it is true that some of us are strangers to each other, I shouldn’t be too surprised that we all get along. I imagine this type of trip attracts people with similar interests and a desire to search out really new experiences. I doubt that anyone in this group would have much interest in a summer trip with hotels and guided tours, that simply wouldn’t be challenging enough. So here we are, in Kenya, getting ready to spend the next three weeks teaching classrooms full of eager Kenyan students, and most certainly spending a lot of time together walking, enjoying the stunning scenery, and learning even more about each other.