Monday, November 15, 2010

Gede Ruins

A few weeks ago Mary and I visited the Gede Ruins to cross that off my Kenya bucket list. It was a gorgeous day, and we had a nice time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Roommates

On a lighter note ... a couple of months ago, I got a couple of new roommates! They moved into my bathroom sink while I was in South Africa.

Damn squatters!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two years...

Next week, on the thirteenth of November, I would have been living in Kenya for two years. Over the past few days, I saw on the facebook statuses of a variety of people from the group who came last year that they were here for a year, and I remember posting that very status on my facebook account last year.

Two years. It boggles the mind.

My close of service will be on the seventeenth of December, and I am set to end my two-plus years of service.

After two years of grammatical rules that I had to relearn and explain in KSL, on Tuesday I will be giving my last lesson to the Form Twos and Form Ones – on active voice and passive voice for the Form Twos, and phrasing grammatically correct questions and answers for Form Ones, before we start revision for the end-of-term examinations.

Two years of ups and downs, frustrations of trying to teach the phrase, “in spite of,” frustrations with the quality of the English textbook that never explain anything and expect the students to understand by utilizing only three examples, frustration with some students who would make mistakes in their homework assignments while they mastered the concept during class, frustration with students who seemingly mastered the grammatical rule in their homework assignments, but fail miserably at their exams. These frustrations I felt so keenly throughout the two years, as if the students’ failures were my own.

Over the two years, I discussed, a number of times, with students and other teachers, the American sense of accountability, and that because of the failures of the students, that also meant the failure of me as a teacher. My students were shocked and dismayed when I shared this with them, and this was a part of the process of getting them to open up, getting them out of the Kenyan mentality of not-asking-teachers-any-questions-to-avoid-offending-them, telling them that I wanted them to ask me questions when they did not understand a concept so I can better explain the concept or find a different way to explain the concept.

Other teachers were equally dismayed as this prompted some teachers to truly think about how they are teaching, and that the quality of Deaf education in Kenya is probably not the fault of the students, but rather the education system that failed the students.

In between all these frustrations, I went on a good number of absolute highs, better than anything I had experienced, when my students understood how to use past participates correctly, when they identified the vocabulary words on the exams correctly, when they improved their reading comprehension skills, and especially when I saw the quality of their compositions improve dramatically over the two years.

My students gave me almost all the credit for all this work they had done, all the improvements they had made throughout the past two years, and I have a hard time accepting this. My students talked about the uncertainty of who would be teaching English next year, and while I am grateful for the compliments and positive reviews of my work over the last two years, it is difficult and sobering to think about what will happen over the next few years in terms of their English education.

Today while typing this blog entry, I realized that I had made an impact on several students, inspired them to work harder on their reading and writing skills, I was surprised to find that it was enough. I wasn’t the idealistic Peace Corps Volunteer who started out my service with the aim to Change The World, but I did hope I would change a thing or two.

I think I did.

Oh, and by the way, only two more laundry days to go in Kilifi.


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.