IST (In-Service Training)

The Math & Science and Deaf Education groups met up in Nairobi for 9 days for IST (In-Service Training).

The best part of IST was seeing everyone again and sharing our experiences.  It was nice to learn that I’m not the only one who deals with certain frustrations and problems….that it’s not something wrong with me and that they usually stem from cultural misunderstandings/confusions/bloopers/whateveryouwanttocallit…..

We also ate a lot of good food!  Hamburgers, fajita, milkshakes, pizzas, sandwiches, chocolate, etc.  I also got to go to the Giraffe Center with a few other PCVs to feed and pet some giraffes!  😀

Basically we attended workshops from 8:30 am (some mornings it was 7 am) until around 4 or 5 pm.  See the list below for the workshops that we were required to attend.

Our Counterparts (e.g. fellow teacher, headmaster, or deputy headmaster) also came for a couple of days.

–Opening and Climate Setting

–PCV Report Outs (We talked about some common problems that we face with our Counterparts at school.)

–Safety and Security

–Kenyan Economy/Vision 2030

–Economic-Political Consult/Consular Section Briefing

–Grant Writing

–Secondary Projects, IGAs in Schools (We had a guest speaker who showed us how to cook using solar power…cool stuff.)

–WWs/IOE (This is the program that connects my classroom to a classroom in America through letter writing and emailing.)

–Continued Language Learning Support (Finally got a Dhluo manual so I can start learning some Luo words.)

–Vaccination Boosters (I didn’t have to have any…yay…and still got a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup out of it.)

–VRF (How to write our trimester reports in addition to our monthly reports.)

–Enhancing Teaching Methodologies and Improvisations with Counterparts

–Peer Educators

–Come Back Healthy

–Mental Health PCMO (We all were disappointed that this workshop was so short.  We only had an hour to discuss concerns and potential solutions in a structured and safe environment.)

–Introduction to HIV and HIV Epidemic Profile in Kenya

–Life Skills

–Behavior Change Communications (BCC).  Why Behavior Change?

–The Education Through Listening Model.  Steps of ETL and Practical Examples on Behavior.

–BCC Intervention Strategies/Techniques Groups Opportunities Group SEssions.

–BCC Games.

–Working Together (We were once again disappointed that this was so short.) Basically our Counterparts came up with a list of concerns and us PCVs also came up with a list of concerns.  It was fascinating to see the cultural differences.  For example our Counterparts feel that us PCVs are too easy and gentle with our students whereas us PCVs feel that our Counterparts are too tough with corporal punishments.  Our Counterparts complain that we “disappear” during school hours when we complain that it’s too loud in the staff room so we go to our house to work on lesson plans in between classes.  Our Counterparts thinks we’re selfish when us PCVs are tired of always being asked for money and stuff.

–Identifying Issues Surrounding HIV/Health Life Skills

–Skit about HIV Issues


–Gender and Development

–VAC Elections

–Scavenger Hunt

–ISK (International School of Kenya) Visit.  Basically this is the school where embassy kids go to.  It’s a bit wild….I met a few 3rd graders who have already lived in 3 or 4 countries.  This school is the complete opposite of what a village Kenyan school is like.  It costs between $18,000-25,000 a year to send a child there.  The school also follows American curriculum so it was refreshing to see critical thinking being encouraged vs copying facts from the blackboard.

–Conflict Resolution/Mediation

–Helping Skills

–Teaching English and Sign Stories

–Discipline in Schools

–Community Outreach

–Reception at the County Director’s house.  Delicious food!  He lives in one of the richest neighborhood in Kenya so again it was bizarre going from that one day and then being in my village the next day.


Sports is held during the first term every year.  It’s the only time that Kenya students play organized sports during the school year so all sports happen at the same time.  My school plays handball, netball, volleyball, football (soccer), and track.  My school also has under 10 sports which consists of things like 3-legged races, sack races, etc.

My students get up at 5 am every morning during the first term to clean the school campus before morning exercises at 6 am.  I was in charge of the morning exercises which consisted of push-ups, lunges, stretches, running, etc. for an hour.  It was supposed to be 3 of us teachers coordinating it but I was the only one who actually showed up.  It’s nearly impossible to keep track of all 90 kids when you’re the only adult on campus and it’s still dark outside.  Needless to say some kids got really good at hiding so I imposed a push-up rule (if they missed the previous day exercises or were late then they had to do push-ups).  They had morning exercises six mornings a week.

School would usually let out early so that kids could practice sports for 2-3 hours in the afternoon before dinner.  They were also expected to practice 7 days a week.  I helped out a couple of times with netball and helped out with volleyball as well.

At the end of the term, schools for the deaf in my province meet up for a 3-4 day sports competition.  At this competition, there are around 25-30 schools and 500-600 people.  I got a little taste of what it would have been like if I had gone to a school for the Deaf as a child.  I did participate in sports at the  Kansas School for the Deaf the first year I moved to the KC area.  It didn’t go over too well.  It was a cultural shock for me….I couldn’t understand the deaf kids and they couldn’t understand me.  I couldn’t miss the expected number of days that I would have to miss from school to travel to other states for games.  However, I am glad I did have that opportunity even though I eventually ended up playing sports at my mainstream school (it was just easier in terms of communication, transportation, acceptance, and schedule).

I also met up with 4 other PCVs and we all had a great time sharing our experiences and frustrations.  It was so nice to find out that I wasn’t the only one who was dealing with the same things…made me feel better.

I was disappointed that some schools decided to bring hearing students to substitute for deaf students just so they could win.  You could read it on students’ faces that they felt inferior, hurt, pushed aside, and confused. This is only a few days out of the year where these kids are given the chance to show that they can do anything and that opportunity was taken away from some of them.

On the bright side, my girls took home 1st place in netball!

At the end of sports (this is what it’s referred to), students are then selected to represent our province at Nationals which happened to be hosted in Nairobi this year.  9 of my kids made it to the National competition but many did not want to go.  They were tired of already being away from their home and families for so long (3 months) and they were scared of the idea of going to a big city.

I headed back to my school after sports on April 13th and unpacked only to repack to head to Nairobi the next day for IST (in-service training).  I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t work out for me to go and watch my kids at Nationals;we were told we couldn’t miss any of IST.

I tried to add pictures but the Internet doesn’t want to cooperate with WordPress…….will try again later!

Facebook Status Updates

Well, I’ve gone and done it again….I’ve neglected my blog once again. I’ve been pretty busy the past 3 weeks with Sports and IST (In-Service Training)…..more on that later. In the meantime, these statuses pretty much summarizes everything I’ve been up to.

Kenya’s definition of running water. During the dry season it’s hard to wash clothes because of limited water but during the wet season it’s hard to dry washed clothes because it’s rainy outside! During the dry season, food variety and quality isn’t great (isn’t awful either) but during the wet season it’s hard to get a ride on muddy roads to the large market to buy a variety of food. One may have access to electricity but not water during the dry season but one may not have access to electricity but have access to water during the wet season. It’s always something so why do we always feel the need to find something to complain about…why can’t we remind ourselves of what we do have and make challenges an adventure? We can’t have everything all at once…that would make life too easy and boring.

I haven’t seen my banking town touts for a few weeks…apparently they had a slow day today because this is what I had to put up with for 2 hours while waiting for my bus to leave.
Tout #1: Hey, you’re back! Let me move your luggage from this matatu to this bus.
Tout #2: Come on and sit up in the front.
Tout #3: Tout #4 loves you and wants to marry you.
Tout #5: Seriously, come and sit in the front seat please….oh never mind, it’s already full in the front.
Tout #6: Buy me a soda, please. I’m so thirsty and hungry.
Tout #7: I love you (he wrote this on his hand).
Tout #8: Where have you been? Kisii or Kisumu?
Tout #9: Are you heading back to the village now?
*sighs* I’m just glad the creepy-handshake (PCVs, you know what I’m talking about) tout wasn’t working today.

What do matatu drivers do when they’re warned about a police checkpoint up ahead? Why of course sneak around the police stop by putting the matatu into reverse, turning around, taking the scenic route through villages on dirt roads, and getting lost in the middle of nowhere…..

Nairobi was great but now it’s back to the village life…..

Being surrounded by hearing people who either know sign language or want to learn sign language is such a beautiful thing…..

Why are my socks, shoes, and jeans soaking wet? Oh…right…just helped push a bus out of thigh-deep water…..*sighs* I love the Peace Corps…. 😀

I never thought 55 degrees F would feel so COLD! I feel like I’m at top of Vail during a snowstorm….brrr!!!

Listening to presentations all day long day after day….yeah…..definitively not how I learn….

Fed some giraffes and got headbutted by one. Beautiful creatures and fun to watch.

I failed to mention that yesterday (or I guess it’s still today in the States….April 20th) was National DNA Day….one of the best “holidays” ever! 😉

Watching Lion King while I’m in Africa makes me appreciate the movie more…..

Me at a Mexican restaurant: “What in the world is that sound?!”
Friend: “That’s your food sizzling…..”
Me: “…..oh….yeah….right….why do I always forget that everything makes a sound?”

Antarctic…..still on my bucket list… to figure out a way to cross it off….

How much does one adapt to a culture when some cultural values conflict with what you believe is “right?” Is what you believe to be “right” really “right” if it’s “wrong” in a culture you’re currently living in?

Bacon cheese burger + milkshake = my happy place…..

Friends, sharing PC experiences, hot showers, American food, decent Internet access……IST (In-Service Training) would be perfect if we didn’t actually have to sit through training all day long…

Reflection #1 on my first 4 months as a PCV: People have mentioned that as a deaf PCV that I need to have a thick skin…which is true….to a certain degree. I think I was too thick-skinned my first term of teaching and I need to find a balance between protecting myself and allowing myself to experience things on a wider spectrum of emotions in order to achieve what I want to achieve here.

There are days when I think Kenya is teaching me how to be patient…..then there are days when I think I’ve used up a lifetime worth of patience and I don’t have any left….

Apparently I slept through my first earthquake…

Saw 5 Kenyans wear Chiefs/Royals clothes this weekend….I think that’s a sign that the Chiefs and Royals need to start winning games…

Am proud of my kiddios…they did great at sports and 9 are headed to Nationals….

Every time I cross the equator I secretly wish there was an actual line….ya know….like on maps

Experienced a shopping center, paved roads, a Western toilet, and running water the other day for the first time in 4 months…..

I try to subtly ask why hearing kiddios are subbing for deaf kiddios at a deaf sports event and I get yelled at for asking too many questions…ughhhh

So….I pulled out paper, stickers, paint, and crayons and told the kids to have fun. I told them they could either keep their drawings or I would put them up on my wall thinking I would only end up with about 10….I should have known better….they all wanted their drawings up on the wall. I think they like stickers……. 🙂

One Term down, Five Terms to Go!

The first term of this year is over….already?!?

It’s funny, I’m kind of sad in a way because time is just flying by so quickly.  I thought the first two months of training would NEVER end and then the first four months of being at my site just flew by.

On one hand I can’t wait to get back to the States and see family and friends but on the other hand it’s kind of scary how quickly my time here in Kenya is going by.

Does anyone know how to be in two different places at the same time?

I’m looking forward to the second term now that I have a better idea of how things operate at my school and what to expect from my students.  I have several ideas in the works as well.  Obviously due to limited resources, limited time, and cultural differences I won’t be able to do all of these at once…..but am hoping to at least attempt some of these ideas at some point within the next five terms.

–Cross-Cultural Exchange Club

–Arts, Crafts, and Music Club

–Reading Program

–Running Club

–Math & Science for Girls Program

–Sign Language Club for the nearby Primary School (hearing)

These are just a few of my ideas.  I think I’m going to work on two of them next term (haven’t decided which ones yet) and see how well received my ideas are.

I am also exploring the idea of fundraising money for a water bore at our school.  My deputy headmaster recently applied for a grant to help get a water bore.  If he doesn’t get the grant or more money is needed, I want to help make this happen.  Water is an issue at our school.  We are always either running low on water or we don’t have any water at all on the campus since we rely on the rain for our water.  The kids then have to leave classes or sports early to make the 15-20 minute uphill walk to a water pump and carry heavy pails back to the school.  Or sometimes the school pays for a vehicle to bring water and fill up one water tank (that has to be used for washing clothes, cooking, bathing, etc.).  This water is from a lake which means we have to be even more cautious about making sure we treat our drinking and bathing water well.

I am trying to figure out the best way to set up a way for people to donate money for this project.  I’m thinking maybe a website but I have no idea what kind of website would work well.

Today is a bit boring…..lazy Sunday….actually it’s Easter.  I keep forgetting when it’s the holidays around here.  It makes a difference when you don’t have commercials and advertisements thrown into your face every second for a whole month before holidays.

I have some things going on this week and then am hoping to update a bit more before the 2nd term begins.  I’m hoping to make some “How do I……” posts that will explain how I wash clothes, cook, get water, clean, use the toilet, etc.


Facebook Status Updates

Currently trying to convince myself that attempting parkour would be a very bad idea……a bored Kelly is never a good thing…..

No alarm clock mornings are the BEST!

Started my day with a 6 am muddy run in the rain under a double rainbow….

Nothing like being woken up by two lizards that apparently fell off the wooden beam above your bed and onto your mosquito net which broke their landing but still managed to hit your legs.

Officially done with my first term!!!!!

Three weeks of trying to be patient, three days of asking, one headmaster, one secretary, and one herdsman (who I really hope is on his way)……that’s what it takes to try to get my mail from the school’s P.O. Box which is a grand total of a 5 minute walk from the school….if even that far. Maybe I should check into getting my own personal P.O. Box… the meantime am crossing all my digits hoping that I get at least ONE letter!! And I still do not understand why I can’t pick up my packages or mail letters from there……..

Headmaster: “Do you know anyone who might be able to donate some tracksuits?”
Me: “I can’t think of anyone but I can try.”
Headmaster:”Well, where did you go to university at?”
Me: “University of Kansas.”
Headmaster: “Well, then ask their track team to give us their old uniforms….problem solved.”
Me: “…………..”

Had a spontaneous race with my kids this morning….all the 12-20 year old kids beat me and I almost got beat by the 8-11 year old kids….good times filled with laughter and smiles 😀

70 degree day. I have on a 3/4 sleeve blouse and a skirt…everyone else is wearing sweaters and winter-style clothes…
*Teacher*: “Aren’t you freezing?”
*Me*: “Nope.”
*Teacher*: “Wow, you must be healthy.”
*Students*: Wow, it’s so cold today…..isn’t the cold bad for you?

Oh, gotta love life at the equator…. 🙂 a spontaneous race with my kids this morning….all the 12-20 year old kids beat me and I almost got beat by the 8-11 year old kids….good times filled with laughter and smiles 😀

This afternoon we went to the nearby primary school (hearing) to use their field for track practice. At one point there were around 100-150 hearing kids surrounding us deafies making us feel a bit claustrophobia and talking about us. 
*Several of my kids*: “Why are the hearing kids staring at us and surrounding us? Why do they do that?”
*sighs* Needless to say that bought many memories of being stared down and laughed at in malls, restaurants, and public transportation. It’s eerie how the exact same thing happens regardless of what culture and what country you live in….guess certain things are just human nature. It hurts more to see my kids go through that than it did for me to go through it.

My school is a tad bit disorganized… schedule for finals….teachers show up late….teachers nap….but what has taken the cake this term is the fact that none of the staff knows when the last day of classes is which apparently is sometime this week.

6 months and I still try to turn the overhead light on so I can find a flashlight when we lose electricity….I question my thought process at times like these……

Once a Jayhawker, always a Jayhawker…..through good and bad times. Disappointed but still proud of my KU boys!

KU, I love you…..but….pretty please start strong and finish strong. I don’t think my health can take another stressful game in the wee hours……

Can someone teleport me back to the States for the Nation Championship game? I miss cheering on my Jayhawks with my KU buddies in Lawrence (being on Mass street when KU won the Final Four game in 2003 has to be one of my favorite all-time memories). Then again, I can’t take the Internet for granted….it has connected me to the other side of the world and I have to say that the Jayhawk spirit can be felt 8,500 miles away.

No electricity….so happy I made sure the netbook and my phone were charged fully before heading to bed….now to make sure they last throughout the whole game! Am just thrilled the Internet is working!! GO JAYHAWKS…make me proud!!!

Dear alarm, I usually don’t like you waking me up but you BETTER wake me up at 3:30 am….I cannot miss this game.

A fun and non-frustrating type of aural rehab is to put the text-to-speech feature on your kindle to use. The two best things are: it’s easy to find your place if you get lost because the kindle automatically “turns” the page when it’s done with that page and you have the text to follow along with. Be sure to select a book at the appropriate level for your listening ability…..and heck….it’s just another excuse to re-read Harry Potter!

KU game is at 3:30 am. Pretty sure an afternoon nap is in order…that is if I can fall asleep…’s like the night before Christmas!

Times like these baffles my mind. I received a Kindle book as a gift that was purchased from London, “sent” from America, and downloaded in 15 minutes and then not even 5 minutes later I lose electricity while trying to use as little lake water (that took 20 minutes to treat) as possible to bath with……. It’s like being in two entirely different decades at the same time.

Beyond excited to pick up my back-up CI batteries this week! Finally, I won’t have to rationalize my batteries. The rechargeable batteries last about a day but I’ve been making them last 3-4 days (only wearing them a few hours a day) because we lose power so often and it’s always when I need to charge them! Will be so happy to have one less thing to worry about.

81 hours until the KU game. Naw, I’m not excited at all…what makes you think that…..okayyyy…maybe I’m just a tad bit excited.

I wrap up the Couch-to-5K plan this week and am looking for a new running plan. I have always struggled with endurance and am a slow long distance runner. I am looking for a running plan that will help me improve my speed without wheezing (silly asthma)…..suggestions?

It wasn’t a dream….we are really in the Final Four!! Way excited!!! 😀

I set my alarm for 2 am to catch the end of the KU game and…..*squeals* FINAL FOUR!!!! Ok, back to bed…..5 am comes pretty quickly. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK, KU

KU Women, keep this up! Two Elite Eights in one day would be pretty sweet…..