Kathy Brick: Kathy Brick’s CommUNITY News no. 1

Kathy Brick talks to students about their writing
Waking up in the morning to the sound of roosters, cows and goats is not quite what I’m used to. During my morning walk (trying to keep the fitness level up) I tend to see the village “wake up”. People fetching water, washing, cooking food on their self-made fires or gas burners and sweeping their area (with a straw broom) are common sights and it gives me some small insight into their daily existence.

Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary College is situated about a 15 minute walk from where I am living and sharing with some other volunteers (2 Irish and 2 Australians – unfortunately the fellow Aussies are not Collingwood supporters!) I am teaching form ones – I have half a class one week (27 students) and half the next, and keep alternating between the two. The programme I am involved in is called the Special Programme. The students are taught in kiSwahili in primary school, but the language of instruction in secondary school is English. At this time of the year especially it must be difficult for them to be learning in English all day (I know sometimes my concentration can start to wane after an hour of learning kiSwahili!). The primary objective is to try to make it a bit of fun for them whilst improving their English to make life in secondary school as easy to cope with as possible. There are four of us working in the Special Programme at the moment, and we are ably supported by Samwel, a local teacher who tells us whatever we need to know and helps us plan as well as taking some classes.

Most people will greet you as you walk past (even whilst balancing  something amazing on their heads) and one of the first things you learn in kiSwahili is the various greetings. The next for me has been to learn how to ask for things in shops – there are locally grown vegetables and fruits (eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, bananas, mangoes) available and there are various shops (one is across the road from where I live) that sell assorted other bits and pieces .

I will definitely continue to be on a big learning curve I am sure – even in just a month I feel I have learnt a lot, but know there is so much more I still of course need to learn!

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You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. - Kahlil Gibran