Chavakali High School

This is now 3:40 in the afternoon.  One participant, an elderly woman who serves as an education secretary, asked to leave early.  I encouraged her to do so, but John overruled me and told her it was important to remain to the end.  She lives to the north and wanted to get an early start.  Tradition and protocol are important.  I am sure that I have violated some aspect of protocol myself in the few days I have been working with these educators.

Debbie and Paul continued their adventures, meeting village people, including another pastor, Lawrence Omega.  They met a biology teacher and a woman who was taking her children to the clinic with suspected malaria.  They visited in the market with others who were all friendly.  Children have been very curious about us and some very shy.  My sense is that the atmosphere here is a quite a bit different than it would be in Nairobi.

We meet with the oversight committee in the morning and then we go back to Kisumu to catch a plane to Nairobi.  The Dixson family will be going home soon.  We still have some uncertainty about our tickets to Kigali, but that is a minor concern.

We had our closing ceremonies, followed by tea.  For tea today,  we were provided with samosas, a fried meat roll, vaguely familiar to an egg roll.  I had one and it was quite good.  We had continued conversation at tea and through dinner which was ugali, rice, beef, chicken and greens.  I spoke with John about the possibility of supporting Kenyan Friends in educational consulting.  We spoke of the Friends Theological Seminary, educational exchanges, workshops, graduate programs, etc.

Paul inivited me to have a Tusker with him after we returned to the hotel.  We sat and watched Kenyan soap operas in the round lounge area in the rear parking lot of the hotel.  Interestingly enough, Kenny G’s Christmas album was the background music (The Christmas Song).  The Tusker itself was not much to get excited about.  It was served in a large (about 500 ml) bottle and Paul tells me that the brew is named after the elephant that killed the founder of the company.

In reflecting on the effectiveness of the team, I know we did a better job in our second workshop than our first.  The changes we made were effective in creating full engagement and greater understanding.  The group at Chavakali was more willing to engage in dialog and the opening review of the entire document produced much good discussion about concerns related to implementation of the project.  In reflecting on the contributions of the individual members, I realize that God really did have a strong hand in raising up this team and molding us together.  Eloise provided wonderful relational skills and did a great job of focusing on the history and purpose of the project.  Her focus on purpose and commitment to see the project through kept our group together and helped to ease uncertainty that I had about how to connect my particular contributions to the ongoing project.  Kristen provided excellent insight and a persistent, yet gentle guidance, both to the team members and to our Kenyan colleagues.  She was able, in the moment, to seize on possibilities and make suggestions or change her practice in order to improve our efforts.  Brad provided very strong organizational skills for presenting and did excellent work at delivering concise, practical presentations of content related to teaching strategies.  Linda did wonderful work in framing, clarifying and summarizing.  She also graciously accepted the role of academic leader and was able to convey the appropriate balance of humility and positional authority required.  I provided creativity and some connections, both spiritual and practical, that helped move the process along.

I am quite impressed with the work we did.  We did plan, we did create a basic structure, but we used the resources available to us to quickly organize and facilitate this important work.  The pace of work was much slower than we would expect with an American group, yet I became quite comfortable with the pace.  I believe that our Kenyan colleagues appreciated the opportunity to converse with one another.  By the second day of our Chavakali workshop, I knew that the process and the relationships were more important than the outcome.  I was determined to insist that we honor the relationships and the process, regardless of the outcome, and it seemed that all of us were able to accept that and go with the flow.  Never the less, I believe that the outcome of this and the previous workshop at Lugulu are strong.  The task now is to organize the feedback, and to determine next steps.  Our meeting with the steering committee today will be an appropriate step in that direction.

I continue to think about what life would be like in Kenya.  I wonder if our family really could live here for a year or two.  Could we do it?  Would we be able to make a contribution?  Would we be able to get along with ourselves and our neighbors?  Could we get by with the daily inconveniences that most Americans would not be willing to accept?  Could I learn to slow my pace and be accepting of the African view of time?

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2 Comments on “Chavakali High School”

  1. Just returning from Sea Turtle meeting where I got this url. Everyone was full of good wishes for your projects here and held you in the Light. sienna is a loving clerk. So glad to know about this blog and love your ability to name the contributions of others. Caring thoughts to all of you.

    • sheadley Says:

      Katie, thanks for your comment. We have been without connection to the internet over the last few days. We are now in Kigali and this is a day of rest. We have had a wonderful time with Aryn and the staff of Food for the Hungry here in Rwanda. Tomorrow we will do the first of our presentations at the Kigali Institute of Education. Please send my regards to Friends in the Sea Turtle Meeting.

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