Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

“All of life is a foreign country” (Jack Kerouac)

I am a community development Intern with GVI on the south coast of Kenya. I have never had any experience teaching but this week after a day of training, entered the classroom. Classes differ than those back at home in their style, but being a kid is universal. We work with three different schools, two private schools Matunda Bora and Base Academy with smaller classes of groups 4-8. The other school we work with Shimoni Public Primary has larger classes that range from 20-50 children. The first thing you notice when entering the classroom is how difficult the setting to teach and learn is. The noise of kids permeates throughout the school while they sit in classrooms with no teacher for a period, because they are understaffed. The weather is hot, the materials are lacking, and home situations are not always ideal for promotion of learning.

This is where GVI makes a difference. While when you teach you may not be able to get across to every child, when you have one in the classroom have that moment of connection with the material the rewards are immense. If we were not there to help supplement their teaching the kids would just be sitting in class not doing anything except playing with their friends.
Knowing that my presence makes a difference helps me get over my insecurities standing in front of a classroom of many children who have never seen me before, but making the small impact is all I can do. Today I will be lead teaching my first class with Filip at Shimoni primary going over phrasal verbs. Have no mistakes. I was not an English major or expert at grammar, but the materials here give you the resources to make a lesson plan, and the fact that English is your first language makes the difference. 
What are we going to read under the tree today?
My favorite moment so far here in Shimoni was yesterday during the activity “reading under the tree”. I took a couple picture books out and some bubbles found a tree by some kids and sat down. Immediately three little girls came over to me, the smallest going directly for my lap and waiting for me to show her the pictures and read to her, it was incredible. I spent some time going through the books with them, practicing counting numbers in English, and then took out the bubbles. Their smiles would make anyone’s day and put their life into perspective. It is truly the small things here in Shimoni, as well in life that makes all the difference.

Everyday we are learning something new about the world and ourselves by making a difference in the lives of those living here who desperately need the supplemental resources. My time here has been less than a week and look forward to the challenges ahead adjusting to my new life in Shimoni.
Text: Bejamin Hubbard