Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joy! (and first pics!)

I'm terribly behind in sharing this experience as each day brings some new mini-adventure or general understanding of what my day to day life in Nairobi will be like. Classes started last week, I finally have a schedule (classes M-W and serious library time on Th/F) and I'm settled into my new house. We had a big international celebration yesterday at Uni and I got to meet a number of students from throughout Africa and the handful that have come from beyond to do various degrees at our 40,000+ in population institution. I met guys from Liberia and Southern Sudan who are on scholarships from their governments to encourage them to return and invest their education in the development of their countries (they know if they send them to the U.S. they rarely come back). The university choir performed which was fantastic - I talked to the director about joining and I'm hopeful I can learn the songs and all the various movements that tend to accompany them.

The best part of my day was my morning visit to Kibera. Via an American acquaintance who worked at a high school there last year, I was ultimately put in touch with Red Rose Elementary as a partner school for the kids at Red Hill and their pen-pal project. I do not think I could have found a better school to partner with! First off - I think it's great that Red Hill and Red Rose will partner - what a coincidence in names, right? Second - I can't convey the joy I found in this school. They are clearly doing a great job at providing an education to 80 or so kids from the inner depths of Kibera, Nairobi's biggest slum. But perhaps just as important, they've created a safe, fun and encouraging place for these kids to spend their days. Each child I encountered was just bursting with enthusiasm and energy - it was great to see. I had never been to Kibera before, and as the school is on the outskirts, I don't think I've had the true Kibera experience yet - so that will wait until another post. But my morning with the kids was the most fun I've had in some time. On Fridays they have an extended play time just outside the small little compound their classes are in. We all got in a circle and sang, clapped and danced to various songs, nursery rhymes and games for at least an hour. The school works with kids from the age of two or three through 4th grade - and they are so excited about pen-palling with Lauren and Audrey's classes. Additionally, the teachers look forward to communicating with the teachers at Red Hill, learning about their curriculum and sharing their own. You can see pictures from my visit here, and I will be sharing with the girl's classes what they can start collecting to support Red Rose students. I believe there is sponsorship information on their blog as well - so make sure to visit!

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