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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Carrie conquers community

Having spent seven weeks as a conservation volunteer, I’d had plenty of opportunities to interact with the community. I’d led games at Wildlife Club, sung along to the songs at choir, and chatted with adults about all kinds of issues. Still, none of that prepared me for the fear I felt right before I walked into the Standard 6 Class at Shimoni Base Academy to teach my first English class.  Who would have thought that five small children could be so terrifying?!? I expected to stumble through the entire class. I was sure the children would be jumping on the desks behind me as I wrote on the chalkboard. Surprisingly, as the children said “Good afternoon, Madam,” in unison, a calm came over me.  The children listened as I talked… in fact, they even looked interested. They answered questions when I asked them. They worked diligently in their exercise books. And, dare I say it, I think they actually enjoyed themselves. I know I did. Teaching my first English class was a blast. I walked out of the classroom covered in chalk with a smile on my face.

See, they're not so scary after all, Carrie :)

I came to Kenya to experience new things, and to contribute positively to the communities here. Becoming an English teacher overnight was a great way to achieve both those goals. The other opportunities I’ve had to work with the community have only added to my experience. As I sit and write this blog, I’ve got my eye on an adult community member who is in the middle of a computer lesson. She’s diligently working away on Word tutorials, learning how to word process and navigate her way around a computer. In a world dominated by computers and internet, my student is working hard to position herself for success, even in the tiny community of Shimoni. Being able to work with her is a privilege and opportunity for me –  I am able to share skills with her that will further her aspirations. She has inspired me to pursue learning opportunities at home and to never take education for granted. That’s quite a lot for both of us to learn in a one-hour computer session.

Shimoni is an incredibly welcoming community. Teachers shake your hand when you pass them in the street, students bear with you when you struggle to explain grammar points, and there’s always a gaggle of little children following you down the street shouting “Jambo!”.  The chance to be a part of this community is so much fun. It keeps me on my toes, but I’ve always got a smile on my face thinking about what’s next… even if it is another terrifying moment in front of five tiny faces, waiting in anticipation for me to teach them something.

Carrie Andersen
GVI Kenya Volunteer