Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kenya's unpredictable electricity

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Maendeleo aje?! (How is it going?) Today was a beautiful day… the weather was absolutely perfect. After our morning run, Andi and I went into town and explored a bit, running some errands along the way. It was fun to navigate on our own through Nyeri. We were the only Wazunga (white people) we saw all day. People stare and sometimes yell at us in Kiswahili. We are somewhat of a spectacle. IT is great to see the transformation in factial expression when we say “Mambo” or “Habari yako?” There is a near immediate change to a smile when the locals hear their familiar Kiswahili come from our mouths. After we finished running our errands, we met Jane and Issa who were in town checking in at the Youth, Child, and Family Services Center.
We had a quick little snack at a restaurant close by, one of Jane’s favorites. The four of us then made our way through town, stopping at the butcher shop to buy some beef for dinner (we had beef, rice, and cabbage for dinner, which was delicious). We laughed when we were learned that for Africans, it is a bad omen to talk when you are “in the lou.” Just an interesting fact I thought I would share, haha. We seem to make friends wherever we go with our Kiswahili. Maybe we are extraordinarily friendly? Either way, it is nice to be greeted with a smile and a “karibu” (welcome!). Back at the centre, we relaxed until it was time to teach Lesson 2.
For a while, there was no power in the centre. We learned to make Kenyan tea on next door on Jane’s gas stove. As the sun set and the moon came out, the sky was so beautiful. The clouds made unique patterns in the sky, covering up some of the stars like a blanket. The moon, about half full, shined very bright. A few outlying stars were prominent in the dark sky. I tried to capture it in a picture, but naturally, it does not do the actual view justice. Unsure as to whether or not we would be able to teach due to the lack of power, Andi and I sat next door, drank Kenyan tea, and chatted with our Kenyan friends. I almost wanted the power to stay off for the rest of the night just to enjoy the brightly lit sky and each other’s company.
Promptly at 7:30PM the power returned, just in time for our lesson. We decided it would be best to split our large class in half, so that we would each have more manageable classes of a bout 45 students. Today’s lesson (Self-Awareness of Emotions) went significantly smoother than yesterday’s lesson. I had the older children (probably ranging from 15 to 20 years old), while Andi taught the younger group (about 13 to 15 years old). At first, none of the youth wanted to participate in the curriculum discussions, however, as I began to provide examples and remind them that there is no judgement welcome in our classroom, students began to share. I hope this continues!! There was still a language barrier, but with a smaller group of students, it was easier to clarify any questions or concerns the students were having. They seemed to enjoy the activities and gave very relevant and insightful answers to the questions I asked during class. They were able to accurately discriminate positive emotions from negative ones, which was great!
In Andi’s younger class, she was challenged by the fact that the kids were unaware of the definition of “emotion.” They could identify sadness, happiness, anger, etc., but had never been made aware of the umbrella term of “emotion.” This was shocking and even more inspiring for us to continue our lessons, teaching relevant concepts to this population of youth. I better explained the goal setting assignment and handed each student a piece of lined paper where they may keep track of their personal goals for each lesson, placing a star next to each once they have been accomplished. For tonight’s activity, a handout was distributed asking about what situations elicit different emotions, and why certain things in their lives (like the CYEC, their friends, etc.) make them happy. I asked them NOT to place their name on the paper, explaining that I want them to feel comfortable to write what they wish, free of any worry of judgement by me or anyone else. I told them the sole purpose of my viewing them was to pick out any common themes so we can share with each other how we feel collectively, that we are both different and alike at the same time. That seemed to be very positively received.
As the students left, many thanked me and were adamant about saying “see you tomorrow.” One student, George, was very enthusiastic about what I was teaching and asked at the end of class, “will we be having many more of these lessons?” He was very pleased when the answer was yes. I look forward to tomorrow’s lesson (Anxiety Management). Off to sleep for me, goodnight!

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