Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Loitokitok Photo

This was taken on a walk from one of the trainee's homestay family's house - the maize fields were everywhere (as it was the rainy season there - it has just started up again a couple of weeks ago), and in some parts of Loitokitok you had gorgeous views of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

I posted this photo because in only a few weeks, the Peace Corps group of 2009-2011 would have been here for a year, and before our anniversary, on 4 November, Loitokitok will welcome yet another group of volunteers (the Public Health folks were there in June).  

As I mentioned in a blog entry, I went to Nairobi for the TDE (Training Design and Evaluation), and we created a PST that seems to reflect the needs of the education volunteers in so many more ways, and as a result, making the PST have the potential of being many times better than the 2008 PST.  Excitement and shining eyes were the response of the volunteers when they looked over the tentative schedule for the PST - and everyone hoped that it would be as good as we think it can be. 

Loitokitok - I'll see you soon. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Random Mt. Longonot Photos

Just a few photos of a beautiful hike Allen and I did in May.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Not quite Charlotte's Web, but ...

A few weeks ago, our cowherder, Samini came to me in my classroom during the naptime period for the nursery class students, bearing a grin similar to one found on a proud baba. He told me that one of the cows just gave birth to a healthy female calf. After I congratulated him, he said that because the school has something akin to a tradition of naming their cattle after the teachers at the school, Samini has decided to name the newborn calf after me. After gaping speechlessly (and waving my hands meaninglessly), I finally recovered and said that it would be an honor.

Without further ado, introducing the newest member of the Kibarani family, Charlotte!

And, Charlotte with Charlotte – hopefully you’ll be able to tell which is the calf, and which is the teacher! Pole sana for the crappy quality of photos from my camera phone!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Projects Galore

As I enjoy my lazy Sunday and the calm before the storm, sipping coffee and preparing for the start of Week 5, I am amazed by how fast time has been flying this term. A big part of that is because I’m involved with several projects outside of the actual teaching process, and those projects are right up my alley, which makes me very excited about working on them.

The first project is a result of a long running conversation I have been having with several teachers over the past couple of terms about how to provide support for parents / families of Deaf children as some of these teachers were interested in starting something that would address that issue. I spoke about the parents outreach program that my mom (along with a couple of other parents) worked for back in upstate New York when we lived there, and a couple of the motivated teachers had many ideas on how to apply some of those principles and ideas into a Kenyan society. The basic goal is to establish a Community Based Organization (CBO – the local counterpart to your NGO [non-government organization]) to serve that population. The organization has an uphill battle as the attitude about disability and Deafness is that it is still very much a shameful part of society. The teachers I am working with are hoping that with exposure to other Deaf Kenyan adults, awareness of various organizations of and for the Deaf in Kenya, that attitude will slowly change. We just had our first meeting yesterday to approve the constitution, elect the officers, and figure out who would talk with the banks about opening accounts, and renting a mailbox. The start up of this organization is definitely difficult and complicated, but I am feeling positive about the process thus far. My role in this project is something similar to a support staff – I help the teachers find various resources, drafts of guidelines, bounce off ideas, and perform other basic functions for the initial boost – the idea is to promote sustainability, as I do definitely want this organization to continue to do good work long after I COS.

Another iron in the fire is the Training Design and Evaluation session for the Peace Corps in Nairobi in mid-October. It is exactly what it appears to be – it is a four-day brainstorm session with the training staff at Peace Corps and a couple other volunteers to help Peace Corps develop a better Pre-Service Training (PST) for the upcoming group of Deaf Education volunteers. I am excited about this project, as I, along with the rest of the current Deaf Eds, have many ideas on how to improve the training process (while the training process will never be perfect, I hope the work that we will do will help the process). Part of this session, I hope, will also help the current volunteers figure out what our roles and responsibilities are for the new folks. Next month, our beloved Kenya will be invaded by yet another group of trainees set for 2010-2012, making my group, the 2009-2011 folks the old fogeys of Deaf Eds, which is unbelievably crazy. I don’t think I will even believe it until I actually meet them!

Not only that, Pwani Secondary School for the Deaf (the new secondary school that I’m teaching a couple of subjects for) just got a new Headteacher assigned to the school. While the Headteacher has some experience in special education, she has almost no exposure or experience with Deaf education. While that is a challenge on the parts of the teachers and the students, she has appeared to be very open to learning about Deaf education, learning KSL, and a various other things, so the Headteacher of Kibarani has assigned me the duty to help her with this learning process. I started by printing out many Deaf [insert subject here] 101 documents / websites for her – for example Deaf Culture, Deaf Education, Bilingualism, and a variety of other things. If there are any websites or resources that you think I should pass on, please feel free to post in comments or email me. Additionally we will be starting one-on-one tutoring sessions in KSL and she will be observing classes and seeing how people teach by using KSL. It is my hope that she will evolve in a person that has positive views and attitudes toward the Deaf community at large, especially of the students of Pwani, which will help the school be everything that it can be.

In the midst of all that, there is a huge weekend just before I am scheduled to head off to Nairobi for the TDE workshop, filled with events and competitions between schools of the Coast Province that we are all preparing for. The first couple of days consist of dramas, dancing, poetry, and various other activities relating to HIV/AIDS, organized by the KSLRP (Kenya Sign Language Research Project) – all this will happen at Kibarani. Schools from faraway towns and villages of the Coast will be coming to Kibarani for a few days, and we will be expecting upwards of 300 children and however how many teachers for the weekend. After the day of cultural activities, most, if not all, the kids will be headed to Mombasa for the Lions World Day, which is mainly a track and field event.

So yea, a lot of things happening these days.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Things I Have Always Wondered About …

… but that I never had guts to try, or only heard stories from friends of friends about it happening to include blowing up hearing aid batteries.

You read that right – blowing up hearing aid batteries.

I think every hearing aid wearer (albeit in my case, a very brief career) at one point in our lives heard the story of the blowing up of the batteries and in my case, and I’m sure many others, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to see one of them blow up.

I got the opportunity to do so last night. I was on night duty, walking around campus, and shooing all the younger kids back to the dorms when one boy hid his dead hearing aid battery, and then tossed it in a fire. Needless to say, that drew quite a crowd of kids toward the fire, and sprayed some dazzling sparks.

Secretly delighted by the show, I gave the kids a lecture about safety (but seriously – I’m not even going into the whole safety thing here – its just too big), and then again this morning during morning assembly, I stressed the importance of appropriately disposing of the batteries.

Last night, after the whole shebang (pun totally intended), I was talking with a hearing aids wearer online, and this is our conversation, slightly paraphrasing (as this is from memory).

“This kid threw his dead hearing aid battery into the fire.”
“Did it blow up?”
“Cool! I need to try that!”

Beware anyone who decide to try and cross the Deaf community – we’re armed with hearing aids batteries!


This blog consists of my personal thoughts and opinions. It does not in any way reflect the position of the United States Government or the Peace Corps.