WOW! Our Second Workshop!-Caroline
Day One, Workshop Two.
What an early morning! We are exhausted, but full. We always plan to be picked up at 8am in our Matatu. In proper Kenyan time we end up leaving at 9am or later. It is a chilly day for Kenyans; people are wearing full winter parkas. Us on the other hand are sweating through our shirts. We arrive at Eshisisia school and must greet the principal. We sign the guest book and introduce ourselves to all the teachers. The greeting customs are very important to people here. We shake everyone's hand and formally introduce ourselves. The respect and kindness for their guests is like nothing I've ever seen before.
As we enter the classroom we were overwhelmed with 100 girls singing with PERFECT placement. SO much mask. SO resonant. SO incredible. We started the workshop with a new game. Sierra is currently on her period and using a DivaCup, so we all lined up in front of the girls and asked them to guess who was menstruating. Obviously they couldn't guess. Yesterday a girl looked at me and said with such certainty "I can tell because she will look dull. Sheer science." So, we decided to disprove that right at the beginning of the day. We've really been challenged with making changes on the fly, adding and taking things away if they don't work. The learning curve for us is STEEP.
We have twice as many girls today and it is raining, so we are inside. We only have three classrooms, so we combine groups. The workshop is not meant to have groups that large. Sierra and I had 36 girls in our class. The last school I had 9. Needless to say, the workshop is very different with 36. It's harder to have a personal connection with everyone, but I'm hoping day two will bring them out of their shells a bit. These girls are sooooo loud and expressive when they sing and dance, but other than that they are very reserved.
Today is packed full of business. We have a one hour lunch and we are off to a ceremony in our honour from Kenyan government officials and community members. Talk about strong customs and traditions. There was a choir, a band, a sound system, hand shaking. All that good stuff. BUT the next thing is a highlight of the day. Rose, a vicar in the community invited us to her vicarage. She and a team of women made us chapati, ugali, and chicken. It was lovely. We talked all about the girls' experience with menstruation in school. It was so reaffirming to hear from a Kenyan woman the impact the work we are doing will make. They shared their efforts in getting pads for all the girls, but the pads are not good quality and they really don't have enough. We are so lucky to have the connection in Kenya that we do. Malindi's dad has paved the way with all his work here and that allows us to support the community in the way they ACTUALLY need. After the ceremony we went back to finish the workshop with the girls. Day one was a challenge, but a success.
Day Two! We arrive to another roaring song! These girls can SING! The second day of the workshop has a lot more discussion. I think we realized that it is easier to facilitate conversation in smaller groups. Sierra and I used a question box a lot. It was much easier for girls to ask questions when they were anonymous. To keep the group engaged and excited, we did lots of moving exercises. The girls love to dance and move so we got up on our feet often. Although, sometimes they would ask to dance just to watch us and laugh. Most of these girls have never seen Mzungus (white people, or even Sierra because she speaks so differently) before. So, watching us dancing and singing is always something they enjoy.
We managed to get through all the material and answer good questions, sing and dance together, and prepare the girls for the DIVACUP!! Although large groups were difficult, we are here to see what works best for these girls. We are so blessed that each workshop looks so different so in the future we can be prepared for all of them. We learned our workshop is adaptable and flexible, and we as teachers must be also.
As we prepared to finish the day and head home, the school had filled our bags with avocado, mango, guava, and tomoko. We had so much fruit we were able to give some to the children living next to us. Every morning when we leave and every evening when we return we have a committee of almost 15 children who greet us. Since we've arrived, we've chatted and sang with the children next door. We've really started to get to know them. To be able to share fruit with them was so lovely. Sharing food is a beautiful custom in Kenya. It was nice to be able to share that with them.
If you made it this far, asante sana. We are learning so much everyday it can feel overwhelming to write it all down.