After a quick overnight stay in Amsterdam and lots and lots of airplane food, I’m happy to be back at home in the United States. My experience in Kenya working at KSG was not exactly what I thought it would be in many ways, but I still cherish the time that I spent there for so many reasons. I’ll need some time to reflect on everything that happened to speak about it as a whole, but for now I can share that the most valuable aspect of my trip was the relationship I formed with my students. I don’t really know how I could explain my feelings for these girls. I wrote a letter to my homeroom of around 20 first grade students that comes close to capturing my thoughts on all of the students at KSG. I’ll post it below this paragraph so you can get a sense of some of the things I learned with them this summer.
I’ve only known you for a month but I will remember you for so much longer. You are some of the most inspiring people that I have ever met. You are so young, but so wise. You are so innocent, yet you have experienced so much already in your lives. Every single one of you are brave, clever, and beautiful. Thank you for teaching me about patience, resiliency, and strength. My time here has meant more than you know. If you work hard in school, stay focused on your goals, and remain loyal to your teachers and friends, I know each one of you will improve lives in your families, communities, and maybe even the whole world. While I probably won’t see most of you again after the summer institute is over, please know that your smiles, laughter, tears, and stories will stay with me for so much longer. I can’t wait to tell my friends and family at home about you and to hear what you accomplish in the future. Thank you so much for a wonderful experience.
I read that letter out loud to my class on the last day of the summer institute. My students were laughing at me because there were parts where I could barely choke out a few words through my tears. Later that afternoon, we had a final assembly where each group was invited to share a special performance. There were parts where all of the KSG girls were wailing uncontrollably with tears running down their faces because they had to say goodbye. Some of the were too young to understand what was going on but cried anyway, which made the situation pretty funny although still painful. While saying goodbye was hard, I’m so happy that I was able to meet these girls and build relationships with them. I’ve always believed that education for girls is a way to solve many of the world’s problems, and it is an amazing feeling to be able to put faces and names to the girls who are becoming agents of change in a community like Kibera.
Hopefully this gives you a glimpse into what I got out of my experience working in Kenya. There is so much more that happened and with time, I will have so much more to share. Until then, thanks for reading and thanks to all of my friends and family at home for the support!