As a wildlife biologist and someone whose favorite animal is the elephant, and still is I might add, I have always wanted to visit Africa. However, I didn’t want to make the journey until I had a greater purpose than merely being a tourist. Some countries it seems like being a tourist is sufficient, but I never felt that about going to Africa.
Early in 2009, I wondered if there was a Teachers Without Borders, like other ‘Without Borders’ organizations, so I went online to check it out. I found TWB – Canada and liked what I read, so I joined the organization. When I got emailed that the 2009 summer teacher positions were posted, I had a decision to make. I thought for a couple of days….was this going to be the right combination of timing and purpose I had been looking for? I decided that it was; I applied and was given a spot on the TWB – Kenya team.
I had so many experiences this summer, and the trip has so profoundly changed my view on the world, it is difficult to pick which stories to share. However, I will share one from each of the two areas we visited that I feel exemplify the work of TWB –Canada.
We had about 60 teachers attend our workshop in Nanyuki and immediately one teacher, Danson, stood out to me. He was walking around with a camera, which is an incredibly rare sight in Kenya. We started talking about our love of photography and the difference between digital and analog cameras. When we worked together in the science sessions his passion and love of science was insatiable. We shared ideas about how to teach students through hands-on activities with locally available materials and often there were many teachers around him listening to his explanations of how different battery set-ups or his liquid and air thermometers work. TWB gives teachers the opportunity to collaborate, share ideas, regain their passion for their profession and learn something new; nationality is irrelevant.
I recently received a letter from another participant from Nanyuki who said ‘ I must say that the workshop was wonderful and I personally learnt alot from it. In fact I feel duty bound to share what I know with others . I am meeting my colleagues next week so that we can roll out a plan to reach out to others.’
I have a strong passion for cross-curricular learning and it has been something I have been developing during my teaching career in Canada. However, through the course of many conversations with my Canadian team, particularly Silvia, I realized that I am not really practicing what I preach; I am a scientist and have never felt comfortable in English classes or enjoyed writing. Since this was the second year of workshops, we had Kenyan facilitators working alongside the Canadian team and so I decided to attend an English session led by Moses, an incredible Kenyan teacher. Moses used a number of strategies given at the workshops that kept me engaged and helped me enjoy learning about and actually writing poetry. I can personally attest that the goal of TWB-Canada to build capacity among Kenyan teachers to facilitate their own PD is well on the way.
I want to thank Noble, for having such great vision and including me in the process, and the rest of the Canadian team for their stimulating discussions and passion for teaching.