"The Craziest Week Yet"

In the excitement and, as you will read, craziness of the final two weeks of the Summer Institute, we didn't have a chance to update the blog. We'll make sure to cover all of the last two weeks' activities in the next week or so. It was an emotional ride for everyone involved. So, in the spirit of better late than never, here is our wonderful SI Assistant Lily Samuel's reflection on Week 3, AKA The Craziest Week Yet. 


Week three of the Summer Institute will go down in history as the biggest mess Sandavy Guest House has ever seen. Half of our group fell sick with colds and coughs among other issues. With the various illnesses, we were fairly short-staffed and had to do a lot of improvising with classes. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? For all you worried parents reading this blog, everyone is now happy and totally healthy (although probably not that happy as we all just had heart-wrenching breakups with our beautiful girls, but we’re not at that point in this blog post yet). For my own worried parents, I did not get sick (except for that one time when I ate a hamburger too quickly and thought I was going to explode, but that happens pretty regularly).

Despite the plague that settled over our group, the week passed similarly to the previous two. Lesson plans in the mornings and afternoons, mostly edible lunches, fights over jump-ropes, and snoring Pre-Kers at mid-day. My most notable lesson plan, co-taught by Jolie, an American volunteer from Oberlin, was a dance class for older girls. But this wasn’t just any dance class. It was voguing.

Voguing is a complex and fairly ridiculous dance composed of 6 elements: hand performance, floor performance, spins, dips, catwalk, and duckwalk. We demonstrated each of these aspects to the girls as they stifled laughter. We then set the girls loose to do some free-styling. After a few minutes, we split the girls into groups of three or four to come up with their own dances to Shakira’s Waka Waka. We gave these girls 5 minutes. They came up with elaborate dances that lasted 2 minutes. Now think about American dance classes for a second: 4 months of expensive classes culminated in minute long dances where half the girls go the wrong direction and the other half just wave to the audience. That is NOT what this was. The dances were coordinated and involved complex moves. The girls incorporated all the elements and even did some tumbling. Such talent.       

Now, if you recall last Friday, we took 80 small children to a crocodile park. This Friday, July 12th, we took 140 children to a nearby park for Field Day! This trip has been fueling my caffeine addiction a little more than I was expecting.

 Costume race at Field Day

Costume race at Field Day

Each volunteer was given either a station or a homeroom. Volunteers with stations would receive each homeroom in turn and facilitate games at their stations. Stations for older girls included bean-bag toss, three-legged races, the weird ball and cups game I still don’t understand, parachute, and costume relay. Stations for younger girls included running in a straight line, running in a zigzag, and running backwards. Challenging, indeed. Anyway, volunteers with homeroom groups would travel around with their group and help out at each station. I, I am proud to say, was in charge of the costume relay, supposedly applicable to all age levels. I was given two hula skirts, a marching band jacket, a vest, a hat, and a sparkly boa. I was lucky enough to have had the proper training to really succeed in this challenge. Older girls had to put on the outfits and race, younger girls only had to put on one of the items. And if that wasn’t hard enough, there was the constant bickering over the advantage the team with the vest had over the team with the marching band jacket. I mean...it was a valid point. 

 The  annual Kenyans vs. Americans Soccer game.

The  annual Kenyans vs. Americans Soccer game.

Not to worry, friends! We made it out alive. Field Day was followed by the annual Kenyan vs. American soccer match. American volunteers faced the SHOFCO Youth and KSG teachers (all young to middle aged women). I proudly led a portion of the Pre-K cheering section, for I no longer play soccer (the wounds of shame created by my younger and much more talented siblings have yet to heal). The KSG teachers were lively in leading Kenyan chants but the girls also cheered USA! USA! as they saw their Summer Institute teachers running around.  The first goal went to the Kenyans, and the girls and teachers went wild. They all jumped up and stormed the field, singing, screaming, and blowing whistles. Imagine 140 children storming a tiny field. Incredible. 

The next goal went to the Americans, and a few of us clapped and cheered. I tried to rally my girls to cheer, but the only response I received was a sad look from little Elizabeth and a quiet

Teacha. Me I am hungry.

Me: But Elizabeth! The Americans scored! YAY!

Elizabeth: Teacha. I am hungry and my stomach is paining.

Me: We’ll have lunch soon! Can you cheer now?

Elizabeth: Teacha.

So much for that.

 Elizabeth on the right, after Field Day.

Elizabeth on the right, after Field Day.

The game ended in a tie, 2-2. It felt like a good way to end the game. 

That afternoon we walked back to KSG and gathered for a farewell assembly for the Chapin teachers who were leaving that weekend. Several classes performed poetry, a couple groups of girls sang, and finally the entire staff at KSG came up to sing a farewell song to the teachers. 

Now a little background about this song. It has haunted me for a year. The teachers harmonize this beautiful song about how much they love and miss you and it’s the most soul- crushing song I’ve ever heard. They sang it last year at one point and we all began sobbing. This year, as I sat in the Great Hall waiting for the assembly to start, I turned to Alix and told her that, if that song was sung, I would make a scene. Now I am a woman of my word, and when those teachers started singing it, the water works began. I was in the very back of the Hall and I watched as several girls turned around in their seats and looked at me sympathetically albeit bewilderedly. After the assembly ended, we said our goodbyes to the Chapin teachers and I hid in a corner to deal with my tearstained face.      

And with that embarrassing display of emotion from me, Week 3 ended and we headed into our final full weekend. On Saturday, the group tried to go to the elephant orphanage to see baby elephants. Fail fail fail fail fail. The driver got lost and we drove on bumpy roads in the middle of nowhere for two and a half hours before finally giving up and going to fancy tourist restaurant instead. It was delicious and I even treated myself to a tequila sunrise.  In the afternoon, a few of us went to a bead shop called Kazuri, which employs single mothers to make beautiful beaded bracelets. It was totally overwhelming, and I spent excessive amounts of money. Mom, you’ll thank me later.

 Out to lunch on the weekend.

Out to lunch on the weekend.


Saturday night, the group went to a nice Italian restaurant and then stopped in next door at a club celebrating Bastille Day. Yes, I also have no idea what compelled the club to feel the need to celebrate France’s Independence. I mean...Kenya was an English colony so there isn’t even that. Whatever, I had fun. There was a DJ and they were giving out drinks that were blue, white, and red. Disgusting but festive...kind of how I feel after eating 15 latkes on Hanukkah. 

It was a blast and some of us even stayed out till midnight (going crazy!), but in perfect Summer Institute form, we still woke up at 8am. Sunday was another shopping day, and we met up with the SHOFCO Youth in the afternoon to go to Toi Market, a huge outdoor maze of small shops selling clothes, knick knacks, tapestries, food, movies, mattresses, and literally everything else you could possibly imagine. We split up and spent several hours winding through the market, looking at this or that but mostly just hanging out. I got myself a shirt that my girls later told me was very smart (smart meaning good-looking, well-dressed, or nice) so I consider that a small win. The whole day was so much fun and definitely marked the beginning of my terror and dread at having to say goodbye to such wonderful people.    

[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!]