Meeting of the Minds
While in Kenya, we were living with Joseph and his wife Mwaka in their new home. On Saturday night he told us he would be gone for all of Sunday. “I’m going to Voi to study with my classmates,” he said. Sponsored by Jeana Petersen, from Arizona, Joseph has been able to do what a tiny few in his world could even dream of: earn a graduate degree. He was getting a Master’s degree from the University of Nairobi, while still acting as principal of Bahakwenu primary school and director of Kenya Keys. Managing all three of these roles at once kept him going “round the clock,” while still managing to mentor the students that were constantly waiting to get some advice.
No one in Joseph’s world has the luxury of just being a student. Like most educators that were pursuing degrees, he was on the year round program, which means that he would be working as headteacher (principal) nine months of the year, and would take the no-school months (April, July, and December) to race to Nairobi for a full month of intensive course work towards his degree. These educator/students attend school for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Christmas. Quite a price to pay for their families as well. While getting his undergrad degree, Joseph had missed being with his family for Christmas for four years. Now he would miss two more.
So on this Sunday, following an exhausting week directing our team of 10, Joseph was leaving early in the morning. He boarded a crowded matatu to travel 90 kilometers, to meet up with three other graduates students, all of whom were traveling equally far distances, to meet in a cyber café to work on a difficult assignment together. They studied for seven hours, breaking for some tea and rice and beans. These educators from the bush are not used to things being simple. Weary and bleary eyed, they then boarded their matatus and headed back to their homes. Monday morning came quickly with hundreds of students awaiting their arrival.
That’s a Kenyan style study group.