Today was a rather bittersweet day; although we are excited to be leaving tomorrow to go on safari, it also means that it is our last day with the amazing students, interns, and staff that we have met with the school.
This morning, we had the safari briefing with three members of the Safaris-R-Us team, and they told us some guidelines about the adventure. One thing that one of the men told us was that many people will wait 30 or 40 years of their life to experience a safari, so he told us to really treasure the experience and learn as much as we possibly can. We also received some amazing gift bags with safari hats and earrings.
After the briefing was an art class hosted by Mr. Kefis, the primary school art teacher, and the St. Jude students. The Culver team, which was joined by CMA grad Evan Heckman ’06, paired up with St. Jude students who helped us tie dye shirts. It was so much fun and we ended up with a huge variety of results.
After the tie and dye, we headed to another amazing lunch of ugali with beans and vegetables. Then it was time to say goodbye to the students that we had all become so close with in days.
Today, we had another three groups go on home visits. Here are there reflections on their experiences:
Xuanchen (Apple) Li ’20
This afternoon Ben, Lily, Mr. Strobel and I went to visit Adinary’s home. He and his mom warmly welcomed us at a bus station and guided us to their rented home. The house was really small with a bed, a couch, a small table, and a few necessities placed on it. It soon became a bit crowded after the four of us, his family, and some neighbors managed to fit in the room. His mom served us hot ginger tea, fried banana (my favorite), and sweet potatoes making us feel welcome and comfortable. As a student who just entered St. Jude this year Adinary still needed a little help from the translator to communicate with us however this did not stop us from having a meaningful conversation. Adunary is a 7 year old boy currently studying in second grade at St. Jude. He in interested in reading and math and wants to become a pilot. While he was a little shy towards us, his mother told us a lot about their lifestyle and her son’s education. She really appreciated that her son passed the admissions test of St. Jude and obtained the opportunity to receive a free education. I was impressed about the way she valued the chance of an education for her children. In fact, she rented the small house near a school bus stop in order to take care of her son and support him. Aside from the conversation, we also bonded with Adinary through playing Uno games. I also shared him my hometown of Shangai through the photos on postcards. Our pleasant visit ended with a group photo outside his home. The visit is definitely unforgettable for all of us.
Jingwei (Ariana) Qin ’21
Ms. Strobel, Kaycie Schlichenmaier and I visited Rosemary’s residence this afternoon. Rosemary is a 3rd-grade student in School of St. Jude. The main goal of this visit is to get a better understanding of the students’ life beyond school.
We picked up Rosemary and one of her relatives at the school bus stop so that she can show us the way to her home. After five minutes of bumpy ride across a busy market, we arrived at her home. Her mother welcomed us passionately and we greeted back with the Swahili we learnt prior to the home visit. She prepared Tanzanian ginger tea, peanuts and bread to welcome us. The food is simple but thoughtful. She even provided us with an opportunity to cool the tea by pouring it back and forth in two cups and an opportunity to rinse our hands.
We brought Rosemary and her family some gifts to thank her for this precious opportunity to visit. We brought her coloring pencils and necessities for her family, including soup, cooking oil, rice and seasonings. Because her house is not electrically powered and there is no window, the interior of the house is always dark. We brought the family a solar powered lamp with the hope that it can help Rosemary do homework. As part of the present, we gave Rosemary a set of Uno cards. We taught the family the rules and played with them as entertainment.
After we spoke to Rosemary’s mother, we learnt that the whole family reside in this one-room mud house. Her family member includes her parents, one older brother named Chris and one younger brother named Musa. They collect water from a tap nearby, cook on a small stove in the room and use an oil lamp and candles to light the room at night. They have to remove the couch we were sitting on and put a mattress on the ground to fit five people sleeping in the room at night.
Rosemary mentioned that her greatest hobby after school is reading story books borrowed from the school library. Unfortunately, because it is Easter holiday during our visit and students weren’t allowed to keep books during holidays, she wasn’t able to show us the book she is reading. Her favorite subject is math and her favorite sport is net ball. She teaches her younger brother after school. She stated that she wakes up at 6:30 am and arrives at the bus station to take school bus at 7:40. Speaking of spirituality and religion, she is Christian and goes to church every Sunday.
Joining School of St. Jude’s for only about one year, Rosemary is still developing her English and is quiet. However, according to Ms. Strobel who visited Rosemary last July during her previous visit to the school, Rosemary’s English and communication skills have already developed drastically and she has become more willing to talk. I believe that this is the magic of education. It helps Rosemary and thousands of other children like her to become confident and it builds a bridge of communication for them and the outside world. Connecting to the story of Felix, the visitor manager, I am amazed again by how powerful education is. Felix’s education ceased at 7th grade because he has too much housework and thus failed the national exam. Therefore, he was only able to do manual labor and his life was hard. He learnt English gradually and after some struggles, miracle happens: he got a job as a bus driver at the school and an office job as visitor manager. With this change in career, his living condition improves. While I am glad for Rosemary can access to education, I am also touched how much they value education and how hard they work given all the resource they have. Although her house is not powered, she still studies, reads and teaches her family at night. She loves her education and she seeks for extra recourses. She is very bright and picks up the card game quickly. Her living condition is not nearly as good as mine but she is eager to knowledge. The visit to the school taught me that a seat in classroom is privilege. The home visit taught me more: everything, even food, a clean bed and light at night should not be taken for granted. The visit gave me a vivid image of the student’s lives; it reminded me that is should be grateful and use my privilege better.
Leela Willie ’18
This afternoon I went to the home visit with Jacob, Ophelia, and Sophia’s mom with Felix as our translator to spend time with a St. Jude student and her family. We visited Subira, a 9 year old second grader who lives with her mother, Mary. The commute from the school to her little abode was approximately a 20 minute drive through the bustling city of Arusha. Before this day, I never expected to arrive at a village of make-shift homes behind a store front. Most of these homes consisted of a single room with a bed fit for two, a couch, and tubs stuffed with miscellaneous items. Once we arrived, to her compound we were greeted with tons of joy from her mother, friends, and neighbors. There was not much conversation with her beyond her experience at St. Jude’s and Mary’s experience through motherhood. It was explained that she is a single mother who dropped out of secondary school and moved to Arusha to take a job as a maid to take care of her daughter. Although their living conditions are not the best you could clearly see the excitement and gratitude within the faces of Subira, her family, and neighbors even through Mary and Subira have no electricity nor running water, they are aided and supported by their community and relatives. The simple things in life such as education and the support of one’s community are essential for happiness.
After the home visits, we had Swahili lessons with the interns back on campus. Unfortunately, after that, it was time to say goodbye to all of the incredible interns.
At around 5 PM, we had story time with Felix, the visitor coordinator of the school. Felix told us his incredible story; he is a Maasai man who failed his exam in 7th grade and wasn’t able to go on to secondary school. Forced to go home to tend to the cows, Felix decided he wanted to become a driver. Felix’s goal was to learn English, and he was overjoyed when he received a job at an international company; however, Felix wasn’t able to learn very much English because the boss he drove was not very talkative, and he decided that he would get a job at the School of St. Jude.
Felix tried everything he possibly could to get a job as a driver at St. Jude, going to the school many times but failing to get a job. Because he knew that drivers who knew English would be preferred, Felix even wrote a speech about why he wanted to be a driver, asked a man who knew English to translate for him, and memorized all the English words although he could not speak the language. When Felix finally got a job as a driver, he learned English with the help of the students who drove his bus. He even got into trouble with the Head Driver because he would often go to classrooms or the library when he was not driving students. Because of his relentless persistence and drive, Felix was able to move to an office job–the visitor coordinator. Gemma told us that Felix has six times the salary he was making as a driver. I could tell that the whole team was reflecting about Felix’s incredible story.
Before the delicious dinner of pasta and chicken, Evan talked to us more about what to expect while on safari. Finally, we had a great deal of time to reflect on our past couple of days.
On behalf of the whole team: thank you so much to the School of St. Jude! We are so grateful for every single person at the school.
Note: thank you so much for keeping up with our blog! We’ll be going on safari from tomorrow until Sunday and will have limited access to Internet or no Internet. Pictures and reflections will be posted when we get back if Wi-fi is not available.