In November of 2006, in preparation for the launch of the iMentor Kenya program, we traveled to Kenya and visited with teachers, students, principals and community leaders. This blog is an account of that trip, an attempt to bring back the flavor of
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The Last Three Weeks
After two day of travel, I arrive in Nairobi, via London, and Week 1 for iMentor Kenya starts off in celebration, then just keeps getting better.
- I am greeted at the airport by the world's most ambitious retiree, Jane Newman, who will be my host and guide for the next three weeks.
- Even though schools are on holiday this month, there are 200 people there to greet us and the students and faculty have many surprises in store.
- The school has constructed a computer lab for the 20 laptop computers we are handing off (they have been donated by Pfizer). These are the first operational computers the school has ever owned.
- After we tour the computer lab, everyone gathers in a large hall for the celebration, which is mind-blowing. Students perform songs and poems and the principal and the village pastor (who is also the Board chair for the school) give speeches about the "global village" and the power of IT. Watch the video!
- Day 1 ends with a hike into the mountains and a wonderful dinner at Jackson's ranch.
- Day 2 begins with learning the basics of the Kenyan education system and a visit to a second school in Machakos, Kyandili Primary School.
- We also learn about some of the challenges facing high schools in Kenya and hear from, Joy, who will be one of iMentor Kenya's first student participants.
- Then we go back to Nairobi, to prepare for the long journey to Sereolipi, where I will meet my mentee...
- On the way, we learn about the challenges posed by isolation in northeastern Kenya and I begin to understand the basics of Samburu culture.
- We arrive in Sereolipi and Week 1 ends when I meet my mentee, Thomas. Thomas and I had been communicating for the last four months over email and it is an amazing moment to meet him in-person.
- Our first few days in Sereolipi are jam-packed. Thomas gives us a tour of Sereolipi Primary School, we learn about the Thorn Tree Project and its role in Sereolipi's recent education boom.
- I also get to sit down and talk with several students, including the charismatic Steve. Watch the video! Steve discusses everything from his views on education, his analysis of the Kenyan government and his hopes for the future.
- How does a place without electricity or running water have a fully functional computer lab and internet access? We find out...
- Then we build Sereolipi Primary School's first website and visit the Lewa Conservancy (where I am invited to dress like a real Samburu man).
- Week 2 ends on a high note, when Thomas and I travel to Ndonyo Wasin and I get to meet his entire family. Watch the video!
- After 6 days, it is time to say what becomes a surprisingly difficult goodbye to the wonderful people of Sereolipi, but not before we put up "the big picture."
- And as soon as we're gone, Thomas reminds me what is so good about iMentor's mentoring model with THIS EMAIL.
- After a one day stop over in Nairobi and a half-day workshop with the Machakos team, it is time to set off for Lamu. (Post coming soon)