May 7, Ellie Buscema

Daily Dispatch from Kenya

May 7, 2009

Elyse Buscema           


            Today started just like any other day. We all loaded into the vans at 7:45 and headed down the dusty dirt road to our respective schools. When we arrived at school all the children were outside in a semi-circle listening to their head master talk. This is the equivalent of our morning meeting at St. Gregory.  At 8:20 class started and Adam and I both headed towards our standard six math class.


            The lesson today was adding and subtracting decimals. I did a few example problems for the students and then let the students come to the board and try a problem. I made each problem a little more difficult to keep them challenged and engaged. I then assigned them each four word problems to do on their own. After the math class, I remained in the same room for the standard six English class. We finished up an exercise from the previous class and the students all helped each other grade their work. Next we moved onto a new exercise. It was a fill in the blank activity that was based off of the vocabulary that I had taught them earlier in the week. The teacher helping me, Jemima, instructed me to stay on one unit for the entire week, which for this week has to do with accidents.  The students filled in the blanks with words about accidents including stretcher, fracture, collision, and ambulance. I was glad to see that all the students caught on quickly to the exercise and were able to understand the vocabulary they had learned earlier. Although it was a simple exercise, the language barrier sometimes makes it difficult for the students to understand us mzungu’s and our accents.


            Adam, Teddy, and I then had a long break before our next classes started. We typically have been just hanging around in the teacher’s lounge planning lessons and reading books, but today, the headmaster was holding a meeting with all of the teachers. They were recently given money from the government by purchase new textbooks.  They were discussing the needs of each grade and how the money should be allocated. The government standard is that there is at least one textbook for every three kids. At Irigithathi, one of three students is given the textbook and they are then responsible for bringing it to their classes, sharing it with the other students, and keeping it in good condition.  It is a big responsibility.


            The meeting continued and contained many chai breaks. Fortunately Adam, Teddy, and I left to teach a PE class though. Originally I had Standard 7 PE and Teddy and Adam had the standard 6 class for PE. However, because the meeting was still taking place, one teacher asked if we could take her class for PE as well. We all headed to the field. The three of us were thinking hard and trying to come up with ideas for games that we could play with over a hundred kids. We ended up letting the older boys play soccer, and the girls and the younger boys all sat down for a game of “kuku, kuku, bata,” or the well known “duck, duck, goose.”


            After PE we were done for the day and so we attempted to leave and start our walk home.  The children, however, wanted us to stay. They love asking us questions about America and what we like to do.  Earlier in the week they were shy and not comfortable asking us questions, but the more time we spend at their school the more they enjoy our company. They are truly fascinated with my hair and my skin. They love the texture of my hair and think that my skin will feel different.  I guess that makes sense as they rarely see wazungu (plural for European), let alone be allowed to touch their hair and skin.  In so many ways the exchange we are experiencing brings us closer.  The little things lead to bigger things.  I wonder what it would be like if we were to stay a few months?!?



Ellie Buscema