For years I have listened to students tell stories of their lives in Africa. I have worked with parents who have no frame of reference for school in the US, and I have read essay after essay on what it is like to be living in different worlds. I decided to take a six month leave of absence from my job and go to Africa myself to experience life there first hand. I want to feel what my students feel and know in my bones what it is like to be a foreigner in a culture where I am the minority. I want to be surrounded by languages that I don’t understand. I want to see the schools where my students and their parents attended. I want to be an observer, so that I can come back and do my job with more of a in-my-bones understanding of their experience.
I will be visiting five countries between February-May. I begin in Zambia with a visit to my niece who lives in Lusaka, and then a trip to the Copperbelt region where I will be staying with friends of my colleague Alain Nkulu. Next I travel to Rwanda where I will be staying with the family of Paul Runyambo (2013) and Letitia Runyambo. Next I will travel to Burundi where I will be staying again with friends of the Runyambo family. Over a year ago Paul and Letitia’s father Norbert put me in touch with Dr. Freddy Kaniki, who has built the Burundi-American International Academy, a new school that will open in September. Recently, Waynflete’s Friends of the Library packed up over 100 boxes of used books that will be sent to this school and I will be going to visit the school. In April I will be working with a library in Bungoma, Kenya as a result of French teacher Lindsay Kaplan connecting me with her sister who is the Director and Co-Founder of Maria’s Libraries in Busia, Kenya. While there I will be working with teachers to bring computer literacy and ipad use into their curriculum. My trip will end in Ethiopia where I will first stay with family of sophomore Abel Aleymayo in Addis Ababa and then travel up to Gonder and visit with the family of sophomore Nadia Aman.