Journey of Discovery: East Africa

We are preparing to leave this morning on our journey to Kenya and Rwanda. I am reflecting on the intersection of a lifetime of preparation, a willingness to trust my Present Teacher, and the unknown circumstances and needs that will confront us.

As a professional educator, I have learned that preparation is an important part of the work I do. My preparation generally consists of knowing my learners, knowing my content and being familiar with a scheme of activities that will support learning. In the earlier stages of my career as a professor, I was overly dependent on my content knowledge preparation. I have come to realize that I know my content to a sufficient extent and yet I can never know enough. I still prepare by reviewing and organizing my content knowledge. These days, I spend more time determining who my learners are and what they need and desire. In addition, I invest much of my preparation time in reflecting on organizing a scheme of activities that will help me know my learners and help me organize my content to make it accessible to the learners.

An important element to consider in preparation is for me to remember that I must release that preparation in the moment of engagement. As I begin to teach, moment by moment, I must trust the Spirit to guide me as I speak, listen, think, remember and act. I must remind myself over and over, “I am not on trial, my personal ego is not at stake”. My task is to help others learn, not to win their admiration. My goal is to see others wonder, engage, build, achieve. My aim is not to be perceived as an expert. My need is to see my learners go beyond content knowledge, for we are smarter together than we are individually. We are able to discern truth and goodness and wonderful application of the content to our own lives as we reflect and converse in a rich community of inquiry.

It seems that a community implies trust and mutual cooperation. Trust is vital in uncertain circumstances. Surely our trip to Kenya and Rwanda will take us to places of uncertainty. I remember back to August of 2003, as I was preparing to go to Namibia at the conclusion of my previous sabbatical. My colleague, Bob Tolar told me that when I got there, I would know what to do and know what to say. Each day of that trip was a new surprise, a new challenge, a new opportunity to trust. I found that what Bob told me was true. In the moment, I knew what to do. In some regard, I am carrying Bob’s message with me today as we prepare to depart. We are prepared, yet I know that the colleagues I am working with in Rwanda and Kenya will be listening to God, listening to our African colleagues, and listening to each other day by day. May we be prepared to follow the call as it comes, discerning direction as we go, knowing that all the preparation in the world cannot and will not account for all the variables that will come into play.

I am grateful for this opportunity we have to share, to work, to learn, to wonder. I am thankful that Debbie is able to travel with me. I hope that this is a great experience for her, as well. I am glad that Paul is traveling with us, as we will be able to learn from his experience and make new memories to bring into the family story.

Explore posts in the same categories: Africa, Education, Learning

One Comment on “Journey of Discovery: East Africa”

  1. Shary Wortman Says:

    Hi Scott,
    It is wonderful Debbie is able to experience this trip with you. I appreciated your thoughts on preparation and learning. It is interesting to read about your experiences and insights. You are a great writer. I enjoy your sense of humor also. Looking forward to reading more. Blessings and safe travels. Hi to Linda and Eloise. Shary

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