“Can you translate something for me?” I asked the teacher.
“Can you tell them that they did a good job and I’m very proud of them?”
After her translation was through the class went totally nuts. Some of them stood up and jumped up and down. They were all yelling and cheering and clapping. The teacher had to tell them to quiet down they were so loud. I was so happy to see them excited like that.
I wanted to plan one last art project for them, something that they could take home to their parents. I thought Christmas cards might be nice. I made a couple of examples by drawing snowflakes in white crayon on pieces of folded paper. Then I painted over the drawings with red and green watercolors. The paint doesn’t stick to the wax in the crayons, so the drawings showed through. I explained to them that if they didn’t celebrate Christmas they were welcome to make any kind of card they wanted.
Kenya’s school system is on a trimester schedule, so during the third term their classes finish at the end of November and start back up again at the beginning of January. I was going to be away in Mombasa their last week of classes, so this was my last art class with them.
A couple of the teachers thanked me after class and told me how much the students enjoyed the art lessons.
“Their self-esteem is now up here” said one of the teachers, raising her hand above her head and bending it at the wrist.
Even the generally rude teacher thanked me after class and told me how much the students enjoyed it.
Before I left I stopped in the office of the head and deputy head teachers to show them the finished tapestry and thank them for giving me an opportunity to teach the class. I expressed my interest in having the class continue.
“I would like to find a volunteer to continue teaching the class after I leave, would you have an interest in that?” I asked.
“Oh the class will definitely continue. We already have an art teacher.” Wasn’t the art teacher leading outdoor activities? “I saw how much the students enjoyed painting, I will continue teaching them if you give me some of those paints.”
It’s nice to know that they’re interested in continuing the program. I’d rather leave the art materials with the Foundation and have a volunteer come and collect them before assisting at the class each week.
The game was divided into three topics: “Personal Hygiene”, “Oral Hygiene”, and “Peer Pressure/Alcohol” with a different set of three students from each of two groups answering during each round. Each correct answer was worth 10 points and each “steal”, meaning a correct answer to a question unanswered or answered wrong by the other team, was worth 15 points. At the end of each round was a special activity for all of the members to participate in which was worth 20 points. It went much like the game we’ve been playing at the library promotions.
I was surprised that they knew all of the answers to the first round, but thrilled, knowing that meant that not only had they listened to what I’d taught them, but they’d understood it too. The round ended with an activity where they had to make up a song about the importance of handwashing. Oral Hygiene ended with a game of Hangman, which they’d never played before, and they very quickly guessed the word “gingivitis”. The third round was the only one where they missed a couple of answers. The last activity was a game of Charades, which they also had never played.
“OK, for the last activity I need two volunteers.” Two girls walked to the front of the room after much cajoling. “We are going to play a game called Charades. I am going to show them a secret word and they have to act it out without writing, or talking, or making noises. OK?”
“Great. So for example, if the word is “fish” I could go like this” I said, sucking in my cheeks and making fins by my face with my hands. No reaction, I think they were confused. “Don’t I look like a fish?” I said, waving my hands. They all started laughing. “But I can’t say anything like, ‘I live in the ocean’”.
They got the point and I showed them their clue, “skipping class”. They looked worried.
“It might look hard but you can do it. Try acting out each word separately.”
They nodded, walked to their respective corners and pretended to jump rope, or “skipping rope” as the class said. They couldn’t seem to move past “skipping rope” though.
“Yes, but remember that this round has to do with peer pressure, what does skipping rope have to do with peer pressure?”
The class was still confused and after asking the girls to try acting out the second word and not getting much out of them, I stepped in and tried to convey “classroom” to them. It finally worked and one of the teams got the points.
After class their teacher thanked me and asked me, half-jokingly, to take her back to the US with me. I told her she was welcome to come and visit in Boston. Then the head teacher invited me to her house to help her cultivate her land and milk the cows. I think I’m going to take her up on that offer in December. It’d be fun to spend a day working on a farm.