Monday, August 15, 2011

East Africa Day 89 (Wed Aug 10): Centres of Academic Excellence

I had learned about the Equity Centres of Academic Excellence from Isaac and Rosemary. A select group of Pre-University Scholars spent some time living at two secondary schools, to mentor the secondary school students and to help them prepare for the KCSE, which will be administered next month, nation-wide. A group of female Pre-University Scholars went to a girls secondary school, and a group of male Pre-University Scholars went to a boys secondary school. I absolutely LOVE this program!!!! One of the things I was most looking forward to, in attending the Equity Congress, was the opportunity to meet these mentors, who just recently arrived in Nairobi from their respective secondary school placements, for the purpose of attending the Congress. The Scholars are about to head off to university. What a great time to get to meet and learn from them!

When I arrived at the Congress this AM, I tried to find Rosemary who had said that she was planning to meet with these mentors, this AM. In trying to find her, I again passed by an office in one of the KU buildings that said "Mentoring Programme." I couldn't resist - I had to go in and find out what this was all about. Fortunately the program's administrator, Mercy was in the office and had time to talk with me. All KU students can request a mentor from the Mentorship Office. The mentors are members of the KU Administration. That program began in 2006 and has thus far served 10,000 students. The office is also experimenting with a newer program that matches upper classmen mentors with underclassmen mentees. In order to be a mentor the student must have their own mentor. This program began in 2009, and has had 151 student mentors. Mercy gave me a copy of the program's brochure. It says that one of the objectives of the program is to decrease the likelihood of dropping out of University. Excellent!! Mercy also told me about a newer program, which began just last year - a week-long Transformational Leadership Skills Training course for recent graduates. Deans List students are invited to attend the week-long training, following their graduation (either in December or April, depending on which the semester is their last one at KU). KU brings outside speakers onto campus for the training, to teach the recent graduates. Love it! I told Mercy about the American Educational Advising Center - she wasn't familiar with it.

I then found Rosemary, who was in a nearby conference room with the mentors, informally discussing their experiences on the secondary school campuses. Wow - it was SO AMAZING to get to sit in, and listen to the scholars' remarks. I was also just really, really impressed with the scholars themselves - WOW. They inspired me, and gave me some new ideas. It was such a privilege to get to sit there with them for about an hour. They will be giving two presentations next week - one to the Equity Secondary School students, and another presentation to the Pre-University Scholars. I cannot wait to hear their presentations - I suspect it'll be one of the highlights of my summer:)

Rosemary and I then had a great conversation about next steps. She is amazing! I ate lunch with her and the Equity Bank staff, and then had to run off to the Centre for Tropical and Travel Medicine for my follow up appointment.

The very kind nurse who helped me last week was there again today, and again checked in with me. She is amazing - reminds me a lot of Jacinta from Daraja, and that is a big compliment!! Jacinta is amazing. I waited in the reception area for a little bit, before being called in to see the doctor. He told me that I will be healthy by the time I leave Kenya on Aug 22. Now that's what I wanted to hear!

However I happened to mention to the doctor, in passing, that I have been taking the cipro that I brought with me from the USA, for the past week instead of the cipro that the pharmacy had pulled for me, when I went to pick up my meds at the pharmacy last week. I figured I'd keep meds out of our waste stream (water supply) by using the cipro that I already had. Uhhhh the doc told me that for some reason, cipro purchased in the USA does not work against diseases caught in Kenya. So the cipro that I have been taking for the past week hasn't done its job, and that's why I am still exhibiting symptoms that should be gone by now. Needless to say, I picked up Kenyan cipro at the pharmacy directly following my appointment. All American travelers coming to Kenya ... might as well leave that cipro at home.

The doc also told me that now that I've finished the first round of meds, that I can start the second. WHAT? Oh turns out that my body couldn't handle all of the meds for all of the diseases at once, so we are just starting to treat one of the diseases for the first time, today.

Also, another med I was given last week did not work. Symptoms are still there. The doc said that the drug I was taking last week could have been counterfeit. (According to a 2009 study by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, 50 percent to 60 percent of anti-infection drugs tested in Asia and Africa contained incorrect dosages.) Or, the doc said, sometimes the drug just doesn't work. So I was given a prescription for another drug.

I go back for a follow up appointment next Wednesday! Looking forward to it, oddly enough. I just want to get rid of these things!

Then it was off to the pharmacy at Yaya again, to pick up the new meds and the cipro. Unfortunately the pharmacy was out of stock of the med that I most wanted, for the most troublesome symptom. Ah well. They said that they'll call me tomorrow to let me know if/when the med comes in.

I barely made it back to my compound gates before the sun set, today. I was power walking through downtown Nairobi, between the bus stop and my compound, when I met a Kenyan university professor who joined me for my power walking through the middle of the road (safer, I thought, at this hour, than the sidewalks.) He was very interested in my education research, partly because he had worked with a UT Austin professor and some students. He wanted to talk about Somalia, on an increasingly darkening street corner. I had to as politely as possible interrupt him, gesture to the sky, and remind him that it was not safe for me to be out at this hour and that I needed to go home. He sent me on my way. I wish I had had more time to chat!

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