An Average Day for Students

Just to give you a general idea of what an average day is like for my students.


5:00 am:  Wake up, sweep and mop the dorms, clean choos, older children help the younger children bath (they use a tub of water from a nearby lake or rainwater and bath outside)

6:00 am:  Run and exercise

7:00 am:  Those who ran and exercised take a bath

7:30am:  Breakfast.  They have porridge for breakfast and stand/sit outside while they drink their porridge.

8:00 am:  Assembly.  They line up in a circle around the flagpost.  Songs are sung, announcements are made, and prayers are said.

8:20 am:  Classes (they have KSL, Creative Arts, P.E., English, Science, Social Studies, Christianity, and Math classes)

11:00-11:30 am:  Tea/Porridge break

11:30-12:50 pm:  Classes

12:50-2:00pm:  Lunch

2:00-4:30pm:  Classes

4:30-5:30pm:  If the school is low on water, students will walk (sometimes over an hour round-trip) to fill jerry cans of water to bring back to the school.  They also fill many jerry cans of water for the cooks to cook the next day’s meals with.

5:30-6:30pm:  Students get some free time.  They can either chat with each other or play sports (netball, handball, soccer/football, volleyball).

6:30-7:00pm:  Dinner.  They may eat ugali with kale or cabbage.

7:00-8:00pm:  They get ready for the next day which may involve washing their clothes by hand and polishing their shoes.

8:00-9:00pm:  They head back to classrooms to do some studying.

9:30pm:  Students go to bed


Students usually wake up around 7-7:30 am.  They clean, wash clothes, study, farm (maize/corn), watch TV, and play sports.

Shouldn’t We Say People Instead of Deaf?

My newest pet peeve…..

People at my school (deaf people included) tend to refer to any general statement made about children as “deaf.”  The word, deaf, is also used to replace the word, children or people, in sentences.

For example:

“Deaf are always late.”

“Deaf push each other.”

“Deaf are messy.”

“Deaf need to go to school.”

“Deaf don’t do their homework.”

I would think that this would lead to the thinking among deaf children that they’re even more different than hearing children than they really are and that these actions are only unique to deaf children.

To me, it’s creating stereotypes about deaf people in these deaf children’s minds when these behaviors are common regardless of how old we are, our ethnicity, our gender, if we’re deaf or hearing, etc.

Daily Life

This is one of my lazy posts.  I’m just copying and pasting some of my status updates from Facebook for those who aren’t on Facebook.

I love when half of the class runs up to the board to answer questions when I ask for only one student to come up.

Don’t take education for granted…..

Standing in the back of a crowded bus on a dirt road for an hour is practically a workout. Trying not to fall onto the babies next to me. Being slammed back into the metal pole behind me and trying to cushion the blow. Flying up in the air, head hitting the metal roof, and holding onto the overhead bar for dear life while holding bags.

I like mornings when I can see the moon because I know that 8,500 miles away my much loved friends and families are looking at the very same moon as they head to bed.

What was supposed to be a 10 minute conversation turned into 4 hours of stories, laughter, and playing with the children.

The girls like to borrow my iron to iron their school dresses. It’s amazing how much work, patience, and love they put into ironing their clothes…..

String, sticks, flip-flops, and pamphlets….some of the items I have found in my sitting room. You know you’re at a school for the Deaf when children slide things under the door to get your attention. 🙂

Classes 4 and 5 share a classroom. Class 5 Math teacher couldn’t make it to class today so the students from Class 5 asked if they could join my Math Class 4 lesson. Needless to say I was practically run over by students from both classes every time I asked someone to come up to the board.

Conversation while hanging out with a group of Classes 6-8 students who were joking around while filling pail after pail after pail of water:
Class #7 Boy to girl: You joke too much.
Class #7 Girl: It’s good to joke around because one needs to be happy, right Kelly?
Me: Yes, it’s good to be happy and to laugh.
Class #7 Girl: See! Kelly is my sister!
Class #7 Boy: Impossible, you can’t be sisters. Kelly is a mzungu!
**We all break out into laughter**
Class #7 Girl: Well, I’m still going to have her visit my family at the end of the term because she’s my sister.

‎3 months and I’m still not a fan of ugali with kale. I’m still skeptical about those PCVs who told me that after a year I will love ugali with kale…….we’ll see!! 😉

So I have yet to master the unique deaf Kenyan head nod + raised eyebrows combination.
Class 3 Girl #1: *copies my nod*
Class 3 Girl #2: That’s wrong, you don’t nod like that!
Class 3 Girl #1 to me: “Is it okay to nod like you do?”
Class 3 Girl #2: *laughs* No, we don’t nod like that here in Africa
Class 3 Girl #1: “So…who cares how I nod”
This was actually a really cute conversation…these 2 girls are good friends

One of the teachers (he’s deaf as well) told me that people want to ask if I will marry them but because I’m “quiet”…they don’t know how to ask me. Well…if that’s a perk of being “quiet”…then I’ll take it 😉

Class #1 Girl: You’re deaf, right?
Me: “Yes, I’m deaf”
Class #1 Girl: Are you deaf only in Kenya? Are you a hearing person in America?
Me: “No, I’m deaf in both America and Kenya”
Class #1 Girl: “Really?!?!?”

A few days ago I posted about how I find things in my room that have been slid under my door (this is how the girls try to get my attention). They have now resorted to throwing their flip-flops (there’s a roof but no ceiling, there’s a big opening between the roof and ceiling). I almost got hit in the face with a flip-flop tonight as it came flying into my room and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud…’s the little things that make my day.


Night Runner

Some students got into trouble yesterday because they were playing outside after dark.  Teachers then asked if I had heard of Night Runners.

“Night Runner in Luo is called “Jajuok”. Let me explain what Night Runner is and/or what they do in terms of behavior (s):  these are people who function normally in the society. They have a wife or wives and children and are capable of maintaining a job during the day. Well, things are different for Night Runners at night.  They leave their homes, wife/wives and children and literally run around people’s homes almost all night through.  Night Runners actually run naked-and most of the Night Runners are male.”

“The typical behavior for Night Runners is to kick people’s doors, throw sand through any opening, throw things on the roof, especially iron sheet roofs which makes a  lot of noise. They take pleasure in disturbing people’s sleep.”


“There is great fear of the witch-doctors (bafumo) and wizards (amalose).  These are often referred to as the “night-runners” who prowl in the nude running from one house to another casting spells.”



Luo Name

The majority of people in my village are from the Luo tribe and have Luo names along with their given name.

Luo names are usually related to the day you were born.  What time of the day, was it stormy, born after twins, born with a cord around the neck, etc.  For more information go to

One of the teachers gave me my Luo name today.  I was born at 2:19 in the afternoon so my Luo name is Achieng which means “born at mid-day”


Here are a few pictures, some of these pictures were taken by other kids.  Sometimes Kenyans won’t smile for the camera or look at the camera.  For a long time it was believed that if you looked at a camera then your soul would be stolen (or something like that–I don’t remember all the details).  Usually children get very excited when they see a camera and beg for their pictures to be taken….then sometimes they don’t smile, they get very serious…but I can tell you that these kids have the BEST smiles!

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Students’ Reactions to My Cochlear Implants

Several students at my school have some hearing.  They can hold a conversation with hearing teachers without having to lip-read.  They can hear their name being called (not yelling but at a louder volume) from behind them if they’re in a quiet setting.  Sometimes they complain that other children are being too loud in the dorms.  Sometimes they ask other girls to interpret for them since they’re not fluent in sign language yet.

In fact one of the older girl (I would guess around 15-17) came to my room today and asked if she could borrow my phone to call her sister and mother.  She was able to have a conversation without any hearing aids, with the phone at full volume, and in a quiet room.

There is no sense of “deaf pride” or “it’s okay to be deaf.”  For that reason I have never met deaf kids who want to hear so badly.

Not a single person has a hearing aid so they were very curious when they saw my cochlear implants.  Below are some of their comments.

“I want those”

“Do you have more of those in your room?”

“Can I try them on and see if I can hear with them?”

“I will pray so I can get those.”

A couple of the older girls asked if they could try my CIs on even though I explained over and over that they had to have surgery for it to work.  They wanted to see how it felt having something on their ears.  You could tell in their eyes that they were dreaming of what it would be like if they could hear with them.

I do feel guilty knowing I have something that they want to have so badly.

They’re also questioning if I’m deaf or half-half (their term for “hard-of-hearing”).  I consider myself deaf but it seems like if you have a little bit of hearing (residual or with hearing aids/CIs) you’re automatically considered “half-half” here.

Africa Must Be Full

Just for the record:  Kenyans refer to themselves as “Kenyan,” “black,” and “African.”  Kenyans also refer to Americans as “American,” “white,” and “mzungu.”

This is a conversation I had with a Class 6 girl this evening.

Class 6 Girl:  “Are there black people in America?”

Me:  “Yes, there are lots of different people in America.”

Class 6 Girl:  “Really?  Wow….do black people marry white people in America?”

Me:  “Yes, they do.”

Class 6 Girl:  “True?!  I want to go to America!  Are there REALLY black people in America?”

Me:  “There really are black people in America.”

Class 6 Girl:  “Hmm…Africa must be full then, that’s why they go to America.”

This made me smile.  🙂

My One and Only Regret of My Cochlear Implant Journey: Not Going Bilateral Sooner


I LOVE being bilateral.

When you look at percentages of how I perform in the sound booth..being bilateral does not seem to make a difference in my ability to recognize words from closed set lists.

However, it makes such a big difference in ways that cannot be tested and in ways that cannot be recorded on paper.

Sounds are richer, sharper, and louder.  There are no words to describe it.  It’s almost like going from a regular color TV to a HD TV.  Sounds are just….more fun and more vibrant…

Until I went bilateral I didn’t have a single regret with any of my decisions regarding getting a CI.  I got it at the right time for me at the right time in my life.  I had the right expectations.

I was so glad I did not go bilateral right away.  Omg, that would have been horrible…anyone who knew me when I first got my first CI would know.  Those first several months with my first CI was pretty rough and it would have been a disaster if I had gone bilateral right away.  I don’t know how many times I said to myself “I will NEVER go bilateral”…lol…oh how things can change.

My one and only regret is that I didn’t go bilateral after taking a year to get used to my first CI but instead I waited two and half years.

Mind you, my second CI does sound different compared with my first CI.  Not sure if that’s because of the 2.5 years difference, different mapping strategy, or the fact that I took off for Kenya pretty soon after I was implanted and haven’t had a chance to get a new map (although, before I left I was at a point where my mappings had stopped changing so much and were pretty stable).  My second CI seems quieter and more high-pitched than my first CI.

Sometimes the batteries in one CI processor will die in the middle of the day before batteries in the other CI processor dies.  It is then that I notice a BIG change in how things sound and how I have to pay even more attention to hear things.

Tea Talk

As a deaf person who has lived in the hearing world my whole life I have picked up a lot of coping skills for certain situations that arise.

One coping skill has been how to handle the break room/tea talk time at work. I do not enjoy those even though many hearing people look forward to those times.  It’s one of the most socially awkward situations possible for me.  I always end up feeling utterly uncomfortable sitting at a table while 10-20 other people chat away around me.  Sometimes I think the most awkward moment ever is when you’re the only person not laughing because you have no idea what everyone else is laughing about.

I usually end up getting really antsy or I just completely zone out and daydream.  I also get a bit frustrated because I start thinking about all the other things I could be doing instead of sitting there trying to follow society’s rules.  I always feel like I’m wasting time and precious minutes of my life.  I could be chatting with someone one-on-one, I could run an errand, I could get a work project done, or I could be reading a book….but…nooo….if I don’t show up, it’s always considered that I’m going against society’s expectations of following those unspoken rules.

A pet peeve of mine is when people encourage me to come and join them…then they 100% ignore me.  When I don’t show up, they complain that I’m being rude.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

If you’re deaf, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

A few years ago I decided it was silly to try to fit in society this way.  It wasn’t doing anyone any good.  I was just getting frustrated and people had no clue how to include me in group conversations.  Instead, I would either drop in and say hi for a few minutes to show that I did care about people and that I did want to get to know them.  Or I would sit across from a person who was easy for me to lip-read so that I would be able to at least figure out what the conversation was about.  Or I would just work through break and make it a point to have a brief conversation with everyone one-on-one in passing throughout the day…I discovered that I LOVE this approach…I get to know people better (people are more themselves in one-on-one situations vs group situations).

This actually worked MUCH better than the whole “sitting there completely zoned out just to adhere to society’s rules” thing.  I was able to develop better relationships with people because I focused on the one-on-one approach vs the group approach.

I’ve been a bit lost as to how things operate at the school even though I’ve tried to ask, lol.  Finally, the deaf teacher pulled me aside and he explained who was who….where things were at….and the general schedule of the school.  Go figure, it takes a deaf person to understand how a deaf person feels in a new environment.  He also told me what time tea was.  The only reason why I showed up for morning tea was because I knew he would be there and I wanted to show the teachers that I was making an effort.

Sure enough, we both were completely lost during the tea conversations.  I kept thinking about how I was wasting time that I could use to make better lesson plans.  The deaf teacher and I did have some brief conversations.  We talked about our experiences in college (he doesn’t have an interpreter so he just copies notes from his hearing peers).  I also asked if I could observe his KSL Class 7 class so that I could learn more KSL.

You could tell that the whole situation of break time/tea time bothered him on the same level as it bothers me as a deaf person.

There were a few times when I glanced over at him and he had the exact same “zoned out deaf stare” that I oftentimes find myself having.

I do plan on trying to make an appearance at tea time a couple of times a week just to show that I do want to be a part of the school.  If I remember correctly, the previous PCV at this site (she’s deaf as well) said she didn’t always go to tea for the exact same reasons.

So my question is….why must us deaf people be expected to follow every single society rule just for “looks” when it doesn’t do anyone any good?  Why can’t we show society that there are other ways to achieve the same goals that would benefit everyone in the long run?