Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The CYEC work out

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This morning I was faced with an interesting challenge after our daily work out session… the shower was HOT. I mean so hot I thought my skin might jump ship. I found myself mysteriously resorting to the strategy we used with our first shower, except for the fact that it had been cold. That shower… always keeps me on my toes ;). After cooking some eggs, tomato, and onion we purchased at the local store (just down the street), we had our morning tea and set out to organize our day. Oh!! I realized I forgot to report that our grilled cheese “American meal” was a success. We made grilled cheese with cheddar and gouda (what we happened to find at the store in town), tomato, and onion. It was delicious. As cheese is not a normal part of the Kenyan diet, our customers were perplexed, but presently surprised. Either that, or they hated it and were just being polite… we will never know.

I was able to conduct one more staff interview this afternoon, which leaves me two left to complete. Both of which will be completed by tomorrow evening… right on target. It was a great interview, which I was really excited about. It was a beautiful sunny day, but quite hot today here in Kenya. We haven’t had a hot day in a while. Mostly, we have been lucky enough to have warm, and even sometimes cooler days with a nice breeze and sunny skies. As the kids arrived home from school we made our way down to spend some time with them. We have been so lucky to get to know so many of them, especially because the first group of Penn State students arrives tomorrow (the engineers) and I’m sure that will create much excitement for the kids. We had a small photo shoot, as to be expected when you bring around your camera ;). I thought I’d share a few with you!

Three of the little ones playing on the swingset. They are fearless jumping off at the peak of their swing!
My Kenyan dugu (brother), Mohammed (15 years old).

Henry! The sun was in our eyes, sorry for the squinting :).

Self portrait of Henry... he loves borrowing the camera.

Little Diana, Tony, myself, and Maureen being silly.

Little Diana
While the staff was in a meeting, Helesty (sp?) was nice enough to accompany us on a hike through the quarries. We were advised not to go alone as wazunga, apparently things can happen… no need to inflict nightmares so we will leave it at that ;). It was a beautiful hike. Not quite as awe inspiring as the route we took for our run (Issa told us he would take Andi and me some time between now and next week, so hopefully I can share pictures then), but also wonderful. My poor little camera was acting up due to the experimentation performed by the kids… mostly just pressing all the buttons, probably accidentally activating some crazy setting. I’ll figure it out later. Here are a few pictures from our hike; I hope they are still okay. At least you will be able to get a small idea of where we were.   

One of the quarry walls.

Along our hike, we passed many women carrying large bundles to their homes.

Upon our return, we were greeted by a running jump from our smallest rafikis. In reference to the title, the new trend in working out is having the smaller children of the CYEC line up on a small step and leap from a short distance into your arms, push them up above your head and set them down. Repeat until fatigue overtakes you. You should try it, it is really effective… I’ll keep you up to date on whether to expect any muscle soreness following these activities. They were LOVING it. Again and again and again. At times I was holding a child in each arm and spinning around and around as giggles filled the air. Happy, happy. As dinner time neared, our game came to a close (phew!) and Andi and I prepared to teach Lesson 4: Anger Management.

I believe today’s lesson was well received. It seemed as if my students were more engaged. They hardly participated again, however, they seemed to be listening more intently. I could tell they understood what I was saying (woo! That’s a start!). I have three boys in my class who participate (I am SO thankful for them). None of the girls participate. The adolescent attitude is in the air. Mom and Dad, I am so sorry for having ever given you a ‘tude. Jane came in and called each of them out to participate. It was like pulling teeth. I definitely am not in the position to do so like Jane did; however, tomorrow I am committed to begin calling individuals out to ask for their participation. Andi’s class was much more successful, as everyone wanted to participate. Jealous. I think it is the age difference more than anything. She shared that the difference in participation when discussing happiness and when discussing anger was remarkable. The children had much more to say about feeling angry than they did about feeling happy. Interesting.

In my class, after we reviewed some healthy ways to keep anger under control (such as breathing, counting to 10, looking at the big picture, deciding whether the situation was worthy of anger, etc.), I received an interesting question. One student asked “what if I use drugs to make me ‘cool off?’” Bring it on. I explained to the class how drug use is not a healthy coping technique and that it was detrimental to your body and your mind. I explained that exercising techniques such as the ones we discussed in class would enable individuals to keep their anger under control all on their own. This would empower them, instead of making them feel that the only way to control their anger is to take drugs. I also discussed how taking drugs often clouds one’s judgment and may influence an increase in anger and impulsivity as opposed to taking a step back to look at the situation before responding. I hope I got the right point across.

Today was good as we really exercised the use of positive versus negative responses to the emotion of anger. I asked the class to provide some examples of times where they felt angry to use to determine both potentially positive and negative responses to the situation. One volunteer explained that when he arrived for dinner, the cook told him he had already eaten when, in fact, he had not. I asked him how he would react to the situation. He said he would just walk away, but I said that would mean he had received no meal. I presented to the class options, to which they could decide which response would be most effective. I became quite animated, which I think made it fun. At least I had fun :).

As each of the students left after class, I collected their worksheets that asked them to explain what makes them angry. I look forward to reading their responses tomorrow as it is, as of now, the most participation I receive. George approached me after class requesting to learn about drug abuse, sex, and risky behavior. This made me realize that the most effective way to implement this curriculum is to teach what we have here to Andi’s class’s age (13 to 15), following it up for the older youth with topics such as drugs, sex, etc. I explained to George that we did not include those topics in this particular curriculum. I told him that it is vital that before speaking of topics like drugs, sex, and risky behavior, we must gather the tools to become confident, self-aware individuals. We need to be able to resolve conflict and trust ourselves, and be true to our convictions. I told him that if I taught a lesson on those topics prior to the development of these life skills, it would be less effective. To demonstrate this, I gave him a scenario in which he asked me if I wanted to take drugs and naturally my response was “no.” However, I then added his counter response to be something along the lines of “oh come on! I will be fun, you can do it, it is not a big deal.” I told him that for someone who is unsure of how to deal with a conflict, unaware of their emotions and opinions on various topics, and lacking confidence in dealing with stressful situations, it may be difficult to refuse… regardless of whether or not they want to take the drugs. Again, I hope I gave him an appropriate response. I did tell him that although not part of the curriculum, if he and anyone else who would like wished to meet at a separate time, I would be happy to discuss those topics with them. He seemed very keen on this idea and told me he would get back to me with a group who was interested and a time that would work for them.

I also got to see my dugu (brother), Mohammed after class who was looking a bit down… he said he would tell me tomorrow. He is one of a group of children (mostly boys) who do not attend school during the day. I asked him why he was not in school, as I could not figure out why… he is very bright. Henry is also a part of this group. Mohammed revealed to me that he had run away from the centre just prior to my arrival, and so, when they return, they must stay for two months prior to returning to school. Instead of asking why he ran away, I asked him if he was happy here at the centre now. He said he thinks so, but he is still unsure. I responded to lighten the mood, “we have fun here though right? I am here with you!” He smiled and agreed, but then said that I would soon be leaving and “then what?” I assured him that we would keep in touch (we will be setting up an email account for him tomorrow) and that I would always be there to talk to. I will follow up with him on what we talked about today. He has asked several times to accompany to the airport. He is a very good kid. I hope he decides he is happy here.

Well it has gotten very late as I wanted to finish this to post. It is hard work keeping up with these blogs!! Lala salama (sleep well), I will write again tomorrow.

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