A field trip with a view

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By Brett Roche

In my second week of teaching at Mitoone, I am beginning to get more comfortable with the schedule, classes, staff, and the students. I have started visiting other classes, to both observe other teachers, and teach some lessons for them, to go along with my own assigned classes. The teachers and staff have been extraordinarily helpful and open to offering advice, asking questions, and welcoming me into their classes.

I am really enjoying getting to know the students better, and it is great to see both the formal and disciplined in-class side of my grade 7s,  along with the more informal, competitive and fun side that they show in PE class.

They love playing games and sports, and really excel when it comes to physical activity and competition. I tried to teach my class how to play “soccer baseball” in PE on Friday, but unfortunately there seemed to be too much of a learning curve as there are so many rules, and most of the students have never seen baseball being played.

Because of the lack of understanding I decided to scrap the game after about 20 minutes, but fortunately, the students were not phased as they transitioned easily back to playing a game of football without question or frustration. This just goes to show the relaxed and carefree attitude many people, including students, have in Kenya, as they rarely get upset or frustrated. This really backs up the “hakuna matata” philosophy I had heard so much about before arriving, which is something I would love to see more of in Canada.

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One morning, we arrived at school early enough to be able to take in the assembly that happens every morning at 8 o’clock. At assembly, a chosen grade or group of students are asked to perform a song or dance or both, coupled with a prayer or speech of some type to start the day.

It was great to see the students get involved in such a fun, interactive, and spirit building type of activity so early in the morning, as this seems like the kind of thing that students in Canada would try to avoid at all costs for fear of embarrassment or ridicule from their peers. But here in Kenya everyone is supported and it is expected that everyone does assembly on their assigned day, so there is no judgment or negativity around it, as students are actually proud and happy to perform or speak to their peers and teachers.

The highlight of my week would definitely be taking the grade 7 and 8 classes up the nearby Mai Tei mountain for a hike on Tuesday morning, with a few of the other teachers. The side of the mountain we climbed had little to no path, and it was very steep, but the students showed up without hesitation or complaint. I could not help but thinking how much planning and red tape there would need to be in Canada to organize a field trip like this, while in Kenya, the student showed up like any other day, and we’re excited to find out they would be hiking a mountain that morning, with no questions asked.

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This was a wonderful experience and it was great getting to interact with the students and such a fun and informal setting, while getting some physical activity and sharing in some breathtaking views. The students love teaching us sweet healing words, phrases and songs as we walked and it was very fun to trade roles as students and teachers for a short while. They were very excited when I took out my camera, and got some great photos of the group on the walk, and I even let some of the students try taking some pictures with the camera, and taught them how to use it.

It was amazing to get to talk to the students more about their personal lives and interests, tell them some things about Canada in my own life, and overall I felt that this morning helped me to make a better connection with my class. This is the day I will always remember fondly, and I’m very happy I have so many great photos and memories to keep forever.

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