Sunday, June 5, 2011

East Africa Day 19 (Wed June 1): Happy Independence Day!

Today is a Kenyan national holiday. The students didn’t have classes today, and spent the day studying. I conducted research in the morning. I’m currently researching the “top 10 girls” from the 2008 KCSE – the female secondary students who scored the best out of all of Kenyan women who took the exam in 2008. It’s slow going when your greatest friend is the Google search engine.

I had a great afternoon assisting Sue with her projects. Thirteen Daraja students have advanced to the next level in a national public speaking contest. The next round of competition is this Friday in Nanyuki, the town closest to campus. Sue has been coaching Daraja’s competitors in preparation for Friday. This afternoon we met with three competitors in Principal Jason’s office for about an hour. The three students determined for themselves what they wanted to work on, and then they kept performing their speech until they felt good about it. We video taped each student, and then played it back for them so that they could see what they look like. Most of Daraja’s students are reciting a poem, either in English or Swahili. One student is giving a four-minute presentation on a topic that she will be assigned ten minutes before she actually takes the stage to compete, on Friday. So when we practiced today, I was listening to most of the students recite their practiced poems. These poems were not written by the students – they were selected and assigned by the persons running the competiton. I believe that all of the competitors in each category recite the same exact poem, and the judges select the best person in that category. They are divided up by age/grade, but some of Daraja’s students decided to compete at a higher grade level, which is very impressive! I’ll try to post video at some point, but for now here are two photos of the groups that we coached this afternoon.

After coaching the students I attended WISH class for Form 2 students. Vice Principal Victoria usually teaches this class, but Sue led it today. The topic was “Confidence”. I got to help out by transcribing the students’ comments on the blackboard using good old chalk. It was so much fun! After talking about the characteristics of confident people, and those of people who are not confident, we talked about the importance of a good handshake and self-introduction. Then Sue took all of the students outside onto the quad, to practice their handshakes and greetings. It was so cute! In order to re-enter the classroom each student had to shake the hand of and introduce themselves to a teacher or myself. It was a lot of fun to see them behaving with such confidence!

Back in the classroom, we role played how to say “no”, since some students had said that they have problems with that. When asked for an example of something a fellow student in the dorm might ask of one of their classmates, that would require the student to say “No”, the students said a common question is “Can I borrow your shoes?” If you could have heard them state the question in unison, you would have thought it was too cute, too!

I started reading “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” last night, and am slowly making my way through it. Sue brought it to donate to the library. My Form 3 buddy, Leila, came by this AM while I was reading it outside on the quad, before Breakfast, and we read the summary on the back of the book together. Maybe she’ll read it – it’s a good story for the students. It rained yesterday afternoon, this afternoon, and is raining right now – perfect time to read inside!

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