Thursday, May 14, 2015

Adventures in Kenya Series - Day 9 - From Mukuyuni to Nakuru

We slept in today.  My alarm didn't go off until 6:30AM. After a quick breakfast of andazi and Kenyan Tea, we left the Mount Crest Hotel.  Along the way to HIP Academy, we stopped a few places. First, we stopped at the local Coca-Cola depot to buy a case of soda.  Then, we stopped at the Obama Supermarket to pick up some lolipops and to take a picture. Finally, we stopped at a small school supplies shop in Mukuyuni where I bought all their crayons, some notebooks, paper, pencils, and poster paper for the kids at school with money that was donated by friends and family back home.

When we got to school, I started by teaching the older students and teachers how to use the new number line that I had brought for them to add and subtract.  After a few minutes I realized that a few children were still having trouble identifying numbers, so I taught them how t use the dice and the number line to figure out what the number symbols represented.  The ones who were more proficient wanted to play with the dice as well, so I showed them games where they could work on addition.
We also spent time showing the students and teachers how to use the base-10 blocks I brought to model adding and subtracting so that students had greater understanding of our number system.

Some of the more advanced students picked up addition concepts rather easily, so I decided to let them try and model subtraction.  When I started with a problem that required "borrowing," their teacher objected claiming that they had never done subtraction before.  I decided to go ahead anyway, and within a half hour, those kids had understanding of the concept of "borrowing" and could show it with the blocks much to the amazement of the teachers. My hope is that showing the power of modeling and "playing" with manipulatives to the teachers so that they will continue to use them after I have gone. Too often we focus on whether or not the answer is correct in school rather than focusing on the thinking and understanding of the students.  Modeling allows us insight into student thinking.  I also took some time to show the teachers the Distance Teaching Videos that are posted online of Wallenpaupack students using the manipulatives, so that they can be a reference after I have gone.

The pre-K and Kindergarten students were working on their letters.  For them, I found a Sesame Street video on the letter "A", and played it for them.  Most of these children do not have electricity nor running water in their homes, so they were mezmerized by watching a YouTube video.  By the end of the 6 minute video, every time the letter A came on the screen, all the kids would yell out "A". That was a lot of fun.

Around 10:30 we had to say goodbye since we had a long drive.  I gave the kids the sodas and lolipops that I brought for them in Kimilili. 

We then planted a Jacaranda tree at the request of Livingstone and the teachers to commemorate my visit.

Before we hit the road, I was invited to lunch with Livingstone's family.  We had a great meal of Ugali with chicken and kale, which I ate with my fingers like a Kenyan, just as I was taught. I enjoyed the short time I had with the Kegode family, and even though I was only with them for a little while, I will truly miss them and how kindly they welcomed me into their home for the past two days.  

The ride to Lake Nakuru National Park was long - about 5 hours.  We stopped at a small market in Mau Summit to buy some food for our stay at the Naishi Guest House.  As soon as we pulled on the side of the road, all the vendors mobbed the van like vultures hoping to get us to buy their produce, shaking it in the windows of the car.  Jackson and I fought our way through to the other side of the road, and we bought some eggs, potatoes, and spinach.  It was quite an experience.  We were literally surrounded by a dozen people waiving bags of oranges, onions, spinach, and all kinds of other produce in our faces.  

Since I haven't slept more than 5 hours in almost two weeks, I passed out and took a well needed nap on the ride.  Livingstone took a nap as well.

When we got to Nakuru, we stopped at a mall to pick up a few more supplies.  First, I went to a Kenyan coffee shop that reminded me of a Starbucks at home.  For the first time in a few days, I saw a few other Mzungu. I got an iced mocha.

Then, we got everything I needed to make dinner - a nice American bacon and eggs meal.  We also got some instant coffee, everything we needed to make Kenyan Tea, and a few other random things. 
From there we drove to Lake Nakuru National Park.  At the main gate we stopped to pay the balance on our reservation and the entrance fees to the park.

While we were driving from the main gate to the Naishi House, Arin Kress from Ohio Skyped us.  We pulled over for a few minutes and Livingstone and I talked to her students about the water problems in Kibera, and the impact Project LINC has had by providing water filters for schools and children in the Slum.  

When the call ended, we continued on toward the southern part of the park where the Naishi Guest House was located.  Along the way we almost ran into some water buffalo.  At one point we came across a tree across the road and an armed guard stopped us.  When we explained where we were going we were asked to help clear the logs from the road.  I admit, it was slightly uncomfortable clearing logs from the road knowing that there were lions, pythons, and other hungry animals roaming around the park.  Once the road was cleared, we continued on to the guest house.

When we arrived, we were greeted by Livingstone, the groundskeeper.  He is very enthusiastic and attentive to our every need.  We invited him to have dinner with us.  He offered to pick us up a few drinks from the cantina nearby, and while he was gone everyone chipped in to help prepare dinner. I cooked spinach and cheese omelets, home fries, and bacon and showed Jackson how to make them in the future.  He had never had an omelette before.  It was nice to have some American food, and to introduce it to the three Kenyans. Everybody loves bacon.

We put on some music and relaxed for a bit before bed.  Tomorrow morning he is going to take us around the park to show us where the animals are.  He has also agreed to be a guest on a Skype call for our students tomorrow afternoon (morning for them.)  That will be pretty amazing, especiall if we can find a place in the park where there are some animals in the background.
Off to bed.  Game drive starts at 6:30 tomorrow morning

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