" I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream"- Van Gogh
The teachers in Kenya are striking for better wages, we are on week two, therefore not much has been occurring. My role as a Peace Corps volunteer is to not teach or participate in any protest, so I clean. I know some people know my extreme aversion to anything having to do with cleaning, but for some reason now I find it very rewarding. Besides cleaning, I have been reading, writing, cooking, planning lessons, and just thinking in general. I find it so interesting how when removed from television, internet, and things in general, I am able to get my best thinking done. I can literally sit, writing, thinking, revising--for hours. My mind fumbling through ideas for the school, Africa, my life. I can remember being so busy, not being able to just enjoy my mind.
I really hope the strike does end soon. I teach at a boarding school, so all the students are still here, and they are desperate to learn. Last week I walked by the classroom and saw the older students teaching the younger ones, when I approached their faces lit up, and asked if I would teach, I had to say no and I could see the sadness in their eyes.
After hours of reading textbooks and teacher's manuals I think the biggest challenge is the lack of resources. Deaf children really need a lot of visual stimulation, and it seems the main avenue for this is a chalkboard, but writing on the board means you don’t face the students, and leaves my hands full and unable to sign. I want to try to use resources available locally (therefore sustainable) and able to be used by teachers in the future. Some ideas include paper machete for globes, play dough for mountain on maps, boxes for drawing, and more.
In addition to research, I have also been doing quite a bit of traveling. This weekend I visited two friends north of Embu and enjoyed seeing Kenya. This country it is beautiful, just off the road I could see hills that dive into the ground, waterfalls, and markets. There is something special about taking to the open road, alone. It is a unique way to see the world through your own filter - uninterrupted. I have also visited three different Deaf schools, which has given me some real perspective on improvements I can make here at Saint Luke’s.
I am settling in slowly, trying to cook inventive food and keep it from going bad. It is quite a challenge trying to cook without microwave, oven, or fridge—but it makes things interesting that’s for sure. I have made some great fresh food dishes and some things I would never eat again.
On another note for those interested my new address is:
Saint Lukes special school for the Deaf
P.O. Box 1297-60100 Embu, Kenya.
Just a note that I have to pay duty on all items I receive, (meaning bargain with the mail clerk for the things you send) so when filling out paper work say it is educational materials, even if it is not! Also, I have heard if you write some sort of religious message on the package itself they will charge less or not steal things from the box. Also, ask the post office about the flat rate box, it is much cheaper, and therefore do not give this information readily.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, this strike will end soon!