Another journey to Kenya

In a little over an hour, I start my (nearly day) long journey to Nanyuki, Kenya to learn about the lives of teachers at Daraja Academy and also offer some professional development to the teachers there.  I will be doing a formal study with teachers (questions below) and responding to the goals of the school in growth in offering support.  It’s going to be a very quick 10 days, I know, especially since, with travel time, I really only have about 8 days there.

In the tween-time before this visit to Kenya, I have spent the past 10 days in Italy, visiting the family of my partner (and I think gaining at least 5 pounds, if not more, because of the daily miracles of his mother’s cooking).  I played the clarinet, soprano saxophone, and piano with my partner who played the trumpet, bass, and electric guitar and his brother on alto saxophone, clarinet, piano, bass, electric guitar, and … well, what doesn’t Alessandro play?  Obviously, we didn’t play these instruments all at the same time, but it was definitely a joy to learn how to listen to one another on whatever instruments we were playing, to improvise, and just to enjoy the successes of one another.  I even sang for the in-laws over dinner.

Matteo and I also finally went to Milan for a beautiful and restful visit (we discovered at the top of the Duomo that we are both terrified of heights, but together we can do anything); we visited his friends; we had a small lunch with friends and family to celebrate our marriage after a cold and sparkling cruise on Lake Como.  We enjoyed the magic of newlywed joy, and also the fattening pleasure of dishes like bresaola, fava bean sauces, Russian salad, and a million other dishes that I should have taken pictures of to share the wonder of seeing them set on the table.  The delights of Natale!

This holiday I also did no work, none whatsoever, which, I’m sure will bite me later.  I read a few books just for pleasure and enjoyed time with my husband and family.  I always work to the extreme so it was a rare treat to have time to be in the space of others and enjoy sharing conversation and daily joys.  I also recognize that I have two conference presentations, the teaching of a new class, teaching two other classes, taking two classes as a student, finishing the MFA in poetry, writing a thesis, and publicizing the new book (comes out in February), service on two task forces, on a Board, and multiple small committees, service as a Tech SIG co-chair at CCTE, and other commitments … it’s going to be a busy semester, which has me a little nervous as, with all I have done, I do not think I have ever done so much at the same time and within such a short time frame.  And while that is occurring, I also recognize the toll of experiencing the world falling down around us all, it seems.  Non-indictments, how many little justice there is and how much injustice there is, take a toll; they wear down … and the singular I here, I don’t have time to be worn down.   So, I don’t feel remorse for taking a few days to regenerate.

From Berkeley to Como to Milan to Como and now on to Nanyuki, Kenya.

While in there, below are some of the questions.

How are you doing today? 
From where do you come?
How many languages do you speak? 
From what tribe do you originate? 
What is your favorite memory of a book or of school? 
What were your greatest challenges in pursuit of your own education?   What is your favorite story as a student?  
Who were your mentors and most significant teachers?  What made them stand out for you? 
How did you find out about Daraja? 
How long have you been here? 
Why do you come to Daraja to teach?
What impact does education have on the lives of women?  
Do you live on campus?  How far is Daraja from home? 
What does your daily schedule look like? 
How do you stay energized for your work? 
How do you stay inspired in your teaching?
What is one creative thing that you do for yourself? 
Do you have a family on campus?  If so, what does life look like for them?  How are they integrated into life at Daraja?  
Do you participate in the interviews of girls hoping to attend Daraja?  If so, can you recount one or two of those stories, particularly one shows us the focus and desire of girls seeking an education? 
How much say do you have in decision-making on campus? 
How much free time do you have?  When you have free time, what are you doing? 
As a teacher, in what area do you wish you had more support? 
What connection do you have to parents?  How involved are parents in supporting your work as a teacher and supporting your students? 
What personal dreams do you have?
What professional dreams do you have? 
Does teaching connect to your spiritual or religious background at all? 
I saw that you did _____________ in your classroom.  How did you learn this? Why do you think it’s important as a strategy?  What is your philosophy of education and how does this practice connect to it? 

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