Orientation (Part One)!

Hello from the Summer Institute!

Our college volunteers landed in Kenya last Friday and we’ve had a jam packed four days of lesson planning, songs and games, ice breakers, and a whole lot of fun. Orientation has been a tiring (Jet-lag is a tough thing to shake off!), memorable affair. It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago most of us had never met. Now we’ve got a strong-knit team that’s ready to dive into the Institute head-first.

Despite our American volunteers arriving late on Friday night, we started off Saturday at 9am with a welcome meeting. After chatting about SHOFCO and what exactly we would be doing during the next month, we were fortunate enough to be joined by Donna Pido, a longtime friend of SHOFCO. Donna has been living in Kenya for many years, including many years with the SIT-Nairobi study abroad program (The program our COO, Jessica Posner Odede, was a part of when she met our CEO, Kennedy Odede). Donna is extremely knowledgeable about Kenya – its culture, its politics, its people – and can provide invaluable advice to people spending time in the country. We were so happy she could join us for the third year-running to help welcome our SI participants.

 Justine leading a game!

Justine leading a game!

On Saturday afternoon the American hopped in a few vans and drove to Kibera. For people who had travelled around the world to spend time at SHOFCO, this was the day they would actually get to see the site with their own eyes. We stopped at our community center, our clean water tower, our health clinic and, finally, ... The Kibera School for Girls! The SHOFCO-Youth Team were there waiting for us, and right away we started in on ice breakers, with the always energetic Nicos – one of our assistant coordinators – leading an array of songs, dances, and games. The participants were able to let their inner kid out and play games like Balance the Ball, Ride that Pony, Maua Maua, I Love You I Love You, and Splash Boom – all KSG favorites! When the end of the day rolled around, no one wanted to leave, but with hugs & promises to see each other the next afternoon, we called it a day.

 Tr. Nicos energizes the group!

Tr. Nicos energizes the group!

Sunday morning, the Americans read a very important and relevant New York Times op-ed that we pass out to every Summer Institute group: “Slumdog Tourism” by our CEO Kennedy Odede. Volunteers read the article and then had a very in-depth discussion about what it means for them to be invited by the Kibera community to participate in the Summer Institute. On an issue like this, with no clear “answer”, volunteers agreed that they had to engage in a dialogue and equal exchange with people from Kibera. They know that they have to listen more than they speak, and that they will almost certainly learn more – from the KSG girls, from the SHOFCO Youth, and from the Kibera community as a whole – than they teach. That being said, we’re excited to see the many incredible ways that our SI participants give back, both here in Kenya and when they return home as SHOFCO ambassadors!

Sunday afternoon, the group again came together in Kibera to continue to get to know each other. In addition to many name games and songs, we also began to work on what games, songs, and lessons we would be teaching to the KSG girls during the Summer Institute. It was fantastic to see how many games and songs were brainstormed by the end of the day. Let’s just say the girls at the school are going to have an amazing time!

 Planning some games.

Planning some games.

Check back for Part 2 for a recap of the last two days of orientation, where the participants get serious about lesson planning and finally get to meet the girls!

[Are you an undergraduate student interested in participating in the 2014 Summer Institute program? Great! Send an email to Nathan at nathan@shininghopeforcommunities.org and we'll notify you with important information and deadlines as next Summer approaches!]