We’ve been in Kenya for exactly three weeks now, but everyday still holds a new challenge, surprise, and emotion. Our group is extremely cohesive; we get along wonderfully and support each other through the ups and downs of every day. For me personally, I’ve had a lot of positive moments, but also a lot of really difficult times. I taught seventh and eight graders at Nyangwayo Primary School for the past two weeks. The students were eager to learn, and often made me teach them through the breaks. I was invited to eat lunch at their homes everyday and I was constantly touched by the welcoming atmosphere of the whole community. What I found the most challenging about my time at Nyangwayo was when the reality of life in Muhuru really sank in. I assigned my students an essay where they either wrote about a challenge in their life, a dream, or a secret. Their responses moved me more than anything else had thus far in Kenya. Some wrote about their financial worries and pending inability to pay their school fees, some wrote about watching their parents die, some wrote about the fear of having to turn to prostitution in order to survive. They also wrote about their dreams of becoming doctors, engineers, lawyers, pilots, teachers and many more. I found it hard to grade these essays or respond to the issues that my students face everyday when I have never had to even fathom overcoming such obstacles. I want each and everyone of them to achieve their dreams of pursuing whatever career they wish to have, but how realistic is that? How many of them would be a doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc, when they don’t even know how to pay for one more year of primary school?
I have learned a great deal from my time at Nyangwayo; the students showed me the caves in Muhuru, I learned about their families during lunch, they taught me Kenyan songs and dances, and they taught me to value my education. It is so easy to take for granted how lucky I am to be an educated, empowered woman. It seems like such a right in the U.S., and I am humbled to be reminded that that is not the case everywhere in the world. I have the potential to be whatever I want to be, and I will never take that for granted again. I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks here in Muhuru will bring!