So where do I begin…There are just so many elements of this global experience that have “stuck with me, rocked me and that I have definitely taken away with me.” When I consider the application process for the Kenya 2018 GCELE, I remember some of my written words – “rich heritage birthed out of the richness of Africa”; “life changing opportunity to assist in the development and delivery of education in rural Kenya”; “everyday cross-cultural interactions being real opportunities to begin actualizing our global responsibilities”; and “a witnessing of the transformation of our students through concrete experiential learning” – all these elements (and so much more) were realized via this GCELE.
The excitement of the long journey ahead could be scooped up at Pearson International Airport as the Project participants and Team Leaders arrived on Thursday February 22, 2018. As I watched each of us arrive, I could see the unspoken anticipation and wonder on everyone’s face. Although late in the evening when we arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, that same look had turned to amazement, as we had finally reached the Mother Land! After a restful night (and a hot shower!) at the Wildebeest Eco Camp, located in the heart of Nairobi, it was here during breakfast that I had my first encounter with a gentleman named “Nigel Linacre”, the co-founder of an organization called “Wellboring” – whose mission is to bring clean water to more Kenyan Schools. As I listened to his unabashed, passionate account of the work his organization (of mostly volunteers!) and the impacts on the lives of the people of the villages and communities who worked in collaboration on these sustainable projects, I was totally blown away that it was not “happenstance” that Nigel and I encountered each other, but this was a powerful introduction to the experience this GCELE was to afford us. After soaking up the beautiful surroundings, serene sounds and heat that washed over us, we were off to our first stop – The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Nursery located in Nairobi National Park, who provide a safe haven to orphaned baby elephants. “The Nursery provides the first stage in the hand-rearing and development of milk dependent baby elephants. Once they graduate from the Nursery, aged 2-3 years, the elephants move to one of the DSWT’s Reintegration Centres in Tsavo East National Park, from where they will ultimately return to the wild.” To be this close to these majestic, wild animals and their caretakers (who knew each of the elephants by name and each of their personal characteristics) was awesome and I learned (more than I ever knew) so much about the natural life span of elephants in the wild and the incredible efforts being taken in the area of Conservation here in Kenya. We were also afforded a front rope view of an orphaned giraffe (quite a frisky one!). After our experience at the Elephant Orphanage, it was back on the bus and on the road to our home (for the next 10 days) Ol Pejeta Conservancy in the region of Laikipia, outside of the town of Nanyuki…a 6-7 hour bus ride!!!! Good thing I brought a book…that I never opened, because the sights and sounds on the road to Ol Pejeta were jaw dropping.
And that’s another story:)
Professor, Early Childhood Education Program
Kenya 2018 GCELE