The school parent meeting was on Friday, so for several days everyone was preparing for the parents arrival. For me that meant listening to several hours of poem presentations and succeeding in getting them to say greaT instead of greaS.
I was looking forward to meeting my students parents, seeing the 7th graders be promoted to 8th, and watching the student entertainment, but the meeting didn’t go quiet as I expected. The entertainment was enjoyable and I was very proud of the students who performed, but most parents didn’t come and many of those who came left early. The result- several lonely and homesick children.
The parents I did have the privilege of being introduced were very friendly and truly interested in how their children were progressing in English.They also wanted to insure that I felt welcomed in Kenya and that I was learning Swahili. I assured them that both were true.
After the parents departed I hung out with the students for a few hours. Many of them were in low spirits and kept asking me when I was leaving, even though they know the date. I was also scolded because I am leaving early on prayer day (the last day of school before the national exam) and wont be able to participate. Finally after promising to write them, taking pictures, and singing a few songs, smiles started to appear again, just in time for dinner.
I am going to miss the girls and my students, but I can go home happy knowing that I have made a difference in at least one of their lives and this is why…
A girl from group came up to me the other day and said “Alisa I have decided what one of my long term goals is to become a Social Worker like you and change peoples lives.”
It was an amazing to hear that she thinks so highly of me that she would want to be like me, but more importantly she talked about having long term goals. She was actually think about something we did in group several weeks ago and applying it in her life. I wouldn’t have cared if she had come up and said her long term goal was to be a great mom or a musician, the point is she is setting goals and taking an active role in bringing about the future that she wants. It made me want to cry.
I wish I had started taking Swahili lessons earlier, but I am trying to learn as much as I can before I leave. I practice often with the students before class or after school because they enjoying being the teachers.
I am often asked why are you learning Swahili? When I tell them it is because I want to be able to converse with people in the community they just smile, but if I tell them I want to be able to converse with my boyfriend when I get home they erupt with laughter. They don’t believe me when I tell them that Alex is required to take Swahili at University. As a result of this disbelief some of the students have decided to write a letter of greeting in Swahili to Alex and his class that I am to deliver upon my return.
I had the best Swahili lesson ever this week!! We focused on vocabulary related to the medical field, so I learned doctor, nurse, blood, wound, injection, HIV/AIDS, STI, malaria, TB, mosquito net and much more. I am hoping to get these words down quickly so I can incorporate them into my health/sex education lessons.
My Hair and Fist Bump
My hair has always been a common topic of discussion amongst the students and myself. At least once everyday someone asks me why I dont shave my head or plate my hair and I have to explain to them that my head would get as red as a tomato if I shaved it. Well on Thursday evening my hair became an even greater fascination then normal. According to the students it was looking very smart and clean and everyone wanted to touch it. Usually I keep the hair playing to a minimum, but my hair was dirty (in my opinion) and I had planned to wash it Friday morning, so I let the kids go crazy. I dont really want to know how many hands touched my hair, but I know it was a lot because I was surrounded and when I looked up all I could see was faces.
One of my biggest accomplishments is teaching the children, including the 3 and 4 year olds, to fist bump instead of shaking hands. I have mentioned before in my blog that Kenyans shake hands with EVERYONE without any consideration of the germs that are being spread, so Kristiana and I started fist bumping. Usually we would only do it with the older kids, but this week I got the preschool classes to participate!!! I also caught some of the teachers, fist bumping instead of shaking hands with students and other faculty. Im hoping that maybe fist bumping will be a new school policy by the time I leave 😉
I confess that I was terribly concerned when I first saw the title of your post. For a moment there, I thought you might be bringing Jersey Shore to Kenya! Ehhh! From a Public Health perspective, though, I officially approve of the fist bumping. I’m sure you’re missing those kids!!!