A field trip and a life experienceby kenya on Jun. 24, 2013, under Life
June 21, 2013
By Lish Earnest, Atlanta Girls School, Class of ’14
Today was an extraordinary break from the norm. It was the last day for all of us to teach at our respective schools, but not so for me and Noah Deitch, my St. Gregory teaching partner at Manyatta Primary.
We had been invited to be chaperones for a “tour,” a field trip that the students at Jupiter Junior School were taking with their American teachers Cecilia Nicholson from St. Gregory and Alexia Anastopolis from Catalina Foothills.
We could not, however, depart without seeing the teachers and students who have made this trip so amazing. Our tour didn’t depart until 8:30 a.m., so Noah and I arrived promptly at 8 a.m. at Manyatta. After enjoying chai with our colleagues we stood in front of the entire student body during their morning assembly and they sang a song for us.
Noah and I shared a few parting words with everyone and I felt tears threatening to break free. These students have earned an irreplaceable spot in my heart, and bidding them farewell was harder than I expected.
Somehow we managed to pull away despite countless hugs and high-fives, and embarked on our journey chaperoning students from Jupiter. In a child-packed matatu we drove to downtown Naro Moru to show the children important parts of the town, such as the post office and the market.
I was in charge of keeping the “baby class” (equivalent to kindergarteners) in line, and what a task that was! The children at this school are very well-behaved, but keeping them in line and focused was absolutely exhausting. There was always one child idly wandering off or crying for one reason or another. It was a big responsibility, yes, but every 6-year-old holding my hand and looking up at me with a smile was a tremendous reward.
To get to Naro Moru we took a dirt road heading west out of town. Soon there were no houses or small farms around us, and on the opposite side of a high fence we saw giraffes, zebras, gazelles and a rhino! Behind the fence was Solio Ranch, a large wildlife refuge. I learned that it has excellent habitat for rhino and is actually used as a transition area for rhino that come to Kenya from other African countries.
In the U.S. I get excited about seeing a deer from the highway. Here, I was looking at a live rhino and many other animals for which Kenya is so famous. I was blown away!
We trolled along the road until it came to a paved road where we turned around and I got to see the same animals again. From there we went to a local tourist lodge where the children were treated with sodas and given time to frolic on a wonderful playground.
For some of the younger kids it was their first visit Naro Moru, and for many it was their first sighting of such large animals. If I was amazed by the experience, I wonder what was going on in the minds of the children?
I felt drained upon our return to Batian’s View, as well as rewarded. In each of my days here I’ve accomplished more than I usually experience in a week at home! However, there was still one important event left in the day.
For dinner all of the headmasters from each of our schools were invited to Batian’s View and we all shared one last meal together. Once everyone had finished eating, it was time for each of us to offer a few words of thanks. To each headmaster we presented a novel as a token of our appreciation for the opportunity to teach in their schools.
Next it was the headmasters’ turn, each giving an eloquent speech about how we had enriched their schools during our time here. A few even had presents for us!
I received a necklace, my teaching partner a wallet, and for both of us bracelets bearing the colors of the Kenyan flag, black for the people, green for the land, and red for the blood that had been shed in the country’s quest for independence.
More than anything today was bittersweet. Sweet, because it was full of adventure and time with a new group of students, and bitter because it was full of goodbyes.
My first great challenge on this trip was to be outgoing and to say hello to everybody I saw all day long. I had long overcome that challenge, and now I was challenged with having to tell them goodbye and keep a dry face.
In my heart of hearts, however, I knew that this wasn’t my final farewell to these people and Kenya, as I know that someday I will return. This small community has had a dramatic impact on how I see the world, one I’m sure I won’t be able to process until I return home.
But that is not until Tuesday, four days from now, and between now and then we have an exciting camping trip in Samburu Game Reserve!
Until next time!