Kenya Summer 2022 Highlights
This summer, our students participated in a Transformative Intercultural Competence and Service Learning Journey that prepared them for their roles as global citizens. We explored three main areas that have been found to be the most critical in transformation:
Ethical Service Learning
In the service of increasing intercultural competence and knowledge of other cultures, students engaged in various activities to learn and understand the idea of culture, its importance, and identifying their own cultural identity.
1. Pre-departure discussion in debunking the myths and stereotypes around the two countries: US and Kenya.
2. An Interactive workshop on what culture means. Students were introduced to the idea of culture, the ‘iceberg’ concept, and the ideologies of individualistic and collective societies.
3. Cross-cultural and reflective conversations around cultural topics including greetings, food, language, partnerships (e.g. marriage), children, approach to health care, wealth, dance, and afterlife.
4. Immersive activities included interacting with local communities, families, and learning to cook traditional Kenyan food.
Students interact with Maasai families during their visit to the Manyattas
(small traditional villages) in Maasai Mara.
Students take a unique glimpse into the domestic routines of a Maasai family.
Students join a local Kenyan family in preparing and cooking traditional Kenyan food.
Students, among their peers, share cultural perspectives and values around various
cultural topics during reflective conversations.
Pre-departure discussion: Students share myths and stereotypes around their own countries, or they held about each others’ countries.
Students, in teams of two, interact during cultural workshops.
ETHICAL SERVICE LEARNING & ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP
As a way of advocating for environmental justice and to grow as agents of change, students engaged in practical field-work, interacted with and served local communities.
Students took part in planting trees to help with the restoration of the Brackenhurst Indigenous Forest.
Students were also introduced to the Maa Trust and its scope of work. The Maa Trust is a non-profit organization that works to support areas of significant challenges the Maasai Mara communities face. They support conservation through the sustainable development of communities in the Maasai Mara. Their work consists in three main areas including income generation, education outreach, infrastructure and water.
Our students engaged in one of their initiatives – women empowerment through traditional skills of bead making.
OTHER HISTORICAL, GEOGRAPHICAL & CULTURAL-RELATED ACTIVITIES
In the service of expanding their knowledge on the history of Kenya, it’s culture, language, geography, and more, our students
visited a variety of cultural centers and historical landmarks.
Fort Jesus & Mombasa Old Town
Our students traveled to the coastal city in Southeastern Kenya – the country’s oldest and second-largest city, Mombasa.
During their stay, they visited the old town of Mombasa and Fort Jesus. Fort Jesus is one of the most outstanding and well-preserved examples of 16th Portuguese military fortification and a landmark in the history of this type of construction. It was built by the Portuguese between 1593 and 1596 to the designs of Giovanni Battista Cairati to protect the port of Mombasa. The Fort’s layout and form reflect the Renaissance ideal that perfect proportions and geometric harmony can be found in the human body. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011 and is now considered a museum, conservation laboratory, education department and primate research center.
Mombasa Old Town is located next to Fort Jesus, occupying an area of about 180 acres. It is inhabited by a diverse community of Arabs, Portuguese, Asians, and British. Students took a guided walk around the Fort and learned more about the history of the area and the East African slave trade era when the Fort was used as a vantage point. They even saw Mombasa Old Town’s narrow streets bordered by old buildings with ornately carved doors and balconies.
The Giraffe Center, located in Nairobi, is a project of The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya (A.F.E.W. Kenya), a non-governmental and non-profit organization. The Fund’s main objectives are to provide conservation education to the youth and advance conservation efforts of the endangered Rothschild Giraffe that lost its natural habitat in Western Kenya to agriculture. The center has become a world-famous nature education facility that hosts thousands of learners annually.
At the center, students had the opportunity to engage with environmental educators as they learned about the Rothschild Giraffe, one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies, with only a few hundred members in the wild. A walk around the education facility also gave the students a rare close-up encounter with these amazingly tall creatures, and a chance to learn about conservation and gather interesting facts about the giraffe.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, established in 1977, operates a project that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants and rhinos and returns them to the wild. The orphanage also embraces other measures that complement the conservation and preservation of wildlife, such as anti-poaching, safeguarding the natural environment, providing veterinary services to animals in need, and enhancing community awareness.
At the orphanage, students learned about these initiatives and heard first-hand from the caregivers about the rehabilitation process, its challenges and successes. Students also had an opportunity to see the elephants of the orphanage.