16 Irish secondary school teachers arrived in Kenya on Saturday 23rd October to spend a week with their partner schools in Londiani.
They began their mid-term break with a drive through the Great Rift Valley and a short safari in Nakuru National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day and they were fortunate to see 4 of ‘The Big Five’ – buffalo, leopard, lion &rhino. It is a privilege to see these beautiful animals in such a stunning natural habitat alongside numerous zebra, gazelle, hyena, baboons and a backdrop of pink flamingos!
Onwards to Londiani they travelled arriving at dusk in St. Kizitos Pastoral Centre which was to be home for the week. Early the next day each school team headed out to their partner school and were met with the ubiquitous smiles, handshakes and warm welcome of the Kenyan people.
During the week, each school worked on their shared goals and vision for the link developing a partnership agreement and finalising plans for cooperation throughout the school year. They shared cultural performances, learned each other languages and discussed issues pertaining to the education system in each country. Final year students – Form 4’s – were doing their final state exams and the system of accountability and transparency was similar to that of the Leaving Certificate in Ireland. The dedication of these students to their studies was admirable and their work ethic was inspiring.
As the week progressed, students could be heard singing Irish songs and speaking Gaelige while Irish teachers were reciprocating with words and songs in Swahili. Teachers had brought letters with them from the Irish students and Kenyan students wrote back to their counterparts. The ‘clash of the ash’ was heard in one school amid beautiful singing from the school choir. Irish dancing and tin-whistle playing ensured the Irish culture was well represented.
St. Pauls High School from Bessbook in Newry were also in Londiani on a cultural exchange and a wonderful night of singing and dancing was shared by all ending with Fr. Martin in full Cork regalia!
As the week came to a close, teachers commented on how much they had learned and what an experience it had been for them to work with the teachers and students of their link schools. Armed with bundles of letters for their students, photos of their trip and long-lasting memories, the teachers left Kenya on Saturday to return to their schools in Ireland the following Monday after the mid-term break.
A trip like this would not be possible without the support gratefully received from the Irish Aid WorldWise programme and the Friends of Londiani Schools Network. Thanks also to fellow compatriots Fr’s Con &Martin and their team in Kizitos, for the warm welcome and support throughout the week.