Happy Fourth of July!! The American holiday was a different experience in Kenya; we began our day with a quiet morning of mindfulness at the Tiriji Eco Center beginning at 7:30. Our guided meditation started with closed eyes, we pictured our past as a personal garden; lush with new plants as well as aged with dead trees and leaves. The dead plants are the elements that have built up our current garden, vital to who we are yet not something we need to keep. The leaves we were instructed to figuratively rake or make into compost, something to nurture our new plants. By doing this we refreshed our minds for the new day and were able to let go of anything that was no longer positively adding to who we are in the present. The lasting peaceful effect carried on over 3 hours of lifting stones, carrying sand, laying bricks, and filling in the mortar of the new guest house.
After lunch, we helped at a Kenyan primary school for the afternoon. The school includes classes kindergarten to eighth grade. Working with the 5th and 6th graders we started with asking them about Kenya: their favorite foods, games, animals, anything about their culture. After brainstorming some ideas on the chalkboard we spread out a long piece of paper on the dirt floor. The kids were eager to draw after seeing the similar drawings that the 8th graders at Thayer had made this past school year. We are leaving the poster from Thayer and bringing back a new poster from the Kenyan kids. This is the third group of children we have worked with and the overarching thing we have realized is that kids are kids wherever they are. Like kids in America, when asked their favorite food the answer was chocolate, and they like cats, dogs and playing outside. After being in the classroom we headed outside to get all their energy out with Rhythm chief, Down by the Banks, Ninja, and Red Light/Green Light before leading back to KACH.
The day also included the studying of the 5 core lenses of SSTS: Culture, Politics, Geography, Economics, and HIV/AIDS. We entered group discussions that provoked differences in opinion shared respectfully. Everyone has been assigned a lens in pairs or trios, and were given questions to pick a side on based on ethics. What we realized: it’s incredibly hard to make decisions about something that you can’t directly relate to. In the days ahead, we will continue to ask questions of the local Kenyans around us to try and understand how our lenses affect the community. Tomorrow we will visit a local high school after continuing the project work.
P.S. Hi Mom and Dad, don’t worry I’m doing well and eating enough!! Tell Ryan he’s lucky to have a sister who is bringing him back something great…