2015 stands reluctantly at the threshold. Re-laces her boots and looks back eyes wet with nostalgia yet bright with anticipation. Her suitcase firmly in her hand as she contemplates that she’s walking out never to be seen again. During these soft moments we take time to think about PA-MOJA’s 2015 as we usher in 2016 through the unobtrusive doors of time.
LFAS (Langley Fine Arts School) Diaries
PA-MOJA is the Swahili word for together. Of course most of those reading this have already figured that by now. However, until one has observed the concept in action, they may not fully appreciate the true meaning. How do you explain that boys and girls that have never met, that have lived in different countries, timezones and social economic backgrounds can meet from day one and start chatting up animately like old friends? It easier done than said since it only makes sense when you observe it happening.
Theresa is a Canadian girl, she goes to Langley Fine Arts School and until a week ago, Kenya was little more than a dot in a map. She and her friends had talked on Skype with their Kenyan friends but still, they knew little about the country. She earned money for the trip working after school hours because it meant so much for her to come and put names, faces and personalities to the dot on the map.
In her journal, she describes the journey here as a surreal and unique experience, “We saw three sunrises and sunsets in just over a day, and the magic of the plane journey simply turned the plane into a flying time capsule.
What did she enjoy about Kenya?
Well, she thinks this is a pretty broad question but just about everything has been fun. She looking forward to Canyoning tomorrow and yes, she will definitely want to come back to Kenya.
Chelsea smiles broadly when asked what she likes about Kenya. “What is there not to like?” She demands. Fair enough. What does she think of what she has seen so far? Well she admits Nairobi appeared to be more developed than she had expected. In some ways, it seemed just as modern as some Western cities. She however observes that there are some glaring differences to be seen as one heads out of the city. And ohh! she likes Dagama too. Dagama is the resident Maasai at the RVA Ol Pejeta Conservancy bush camp. He’s the atypical Maasai warrior standing clear over six feet, lean and handsome with bush skills that would make Tarzan look like a fumbling millennial in the jungle.
The combination of Kenyans and Canadians are spread out through the camp. Some are gazing at stars using binoculars and iPad apps. Others are engaged in a high stake game of darts and the majority are sitting around a bonfire singing and trying to figure out why the smoke kept drifting towards some people and not others. Kari, an LFAS maths teacher, thinks its because smoke drifts towards beauty. The local explanation is however not nearly as appealing.
10.00 PM , the night is getting darker and colder and everyone decides to call it a day.
EHS (East High School) Diaries. June 2015
The last day of the Kenyan tour dawns with the typical clarity of an African sunrise. With the promise of a beautiful day but in this case a sense of finality. Having said their goodbyes to their colleagues from Loise and Thome Secondary the previous day, today is the last day in the field as they visit Malek Girl’s secondary school. The bus is loaded with gifts and goodwill and from their camp at the Rift Valley Adventures as they head to Matanya. The journey, like any other African odyssey is dotted with fun and sometimes-breathtaking incidence. Sheep stubbornly flaunt their right of way and hardly a mile from the camp a wooden bridge whose delicate proportions pushes the excitement levels a few notches (Read Decibels) as the students cheer the driver’s dexterity.
At Malek, the now familiar team is enthusiastically received and they are directed to the hall for entertainment. The first performance is a traditional dance from the Kikuyu culture specially performed during courtship and weddings. The words go over the American guests but the smiles, rhythms and enthusiasm of the lovely dancers are as clear as tropical mud. This is followed by the scouts who put up and impressive synchronized march and dance and topped by a less formal set of dancing and singing games. The latter involves forming a huge circle in the middle of the hall individuals would be invited to show their moves. After a while, they decide to make things interesting and pull unsuspecting EHS students and teachers into the circle.
From here on, the excitement shoots up and the everyone is jostling for space as the dancing changes in tempo and volume. It is a tableau of uniformed dancers and casually dressed EHS teens all dancing to the best of Malek’s music smorgasbord. Pretty soon some EHS students were taking the lead and for the next few minutes, music and dance once again cut through language, age and social differences.
EHS according to their teacher are not content to sit and be entertained and…”we must give as good as we get”. True to her word, the EHS students split into three groups and set about entertaining and training the Kenyan group on their “food”, Music and Sports. One group is in the field teaching the girls how to play kickball. (That they are using a soccer ball made small difference), another sampling Americans famous snacks, and the last was giving dance lessons. They then rotate among the classes so that everyone gets a bit of something. Everything went one as planned after about 40 minutes of these intercultural exchanges; the EHS team then shares their school T-shirts with the student and staff body. Finally everyone poses for a group photo in their new T-shirts and PA-MOJA’s first and incredibly successful foray into the world of group school tours comes to a cheerful conclusion.