Questions from Kiirua

By Emily Gallant and Hope Gallant, pre-service teachers from UPEI doing a practicum in Kenya

Hi again! The Gallant teachers are back with an update from week 2 at Kiirua Primary. 

Class 6 at Kiirua Primary

With each day, our students are getting more and more used to us. They can understand us better, and are even more comfortable asking us questions. Here is a list of some of our favourite questions to date: 

“Where does snow come from?” 

“What are your houses made of?” 

“What does your money look like?”

“Do you all drive cars in Canada?”

“Is English your mother tongue?”

“Do the children wear uniforms to school?”

“Do children have to have shaved heads in school?” 

“Do your students use pencils or pens?”

“What do the students eat at school?”

“Do you use textbooks in school?”

“How do you discipline students in school?”

“Will you sing us the national anthem of Canada?” 

“Do you have a president in Canada?”

“Do you teach Religious Education?”

“Are there black people in Canada?”

“Do you have cholera in Canada?”

“Does it rain in Canada?”

“What is the temperature in Canada?”

“How do you dry your clothes in Canada if it is so cold outside?”

“What time is it in Canada?”

“Do you have lions in Canada?” 

“How do you heat your houses?” 

“Do you have counties in Canada?”

Many of these questions are quite entertaining to us, and the students laugh out loud when we tell them the answers. Other answers are hard to explain. For example, have you ever tried to explain what a dryer is? The best I could come up with is that it is a giant microwave oven for clothes. Some questions are hard to explain for other reasons, especially because of the differences in school cultures between Canada and Kenya. 

Emily teaching an English lesson

During one of these questioning sessions, the students asked Hope what snow was made of. When she told them it was made of water, a student leaned over to me and asked “Can you drink snow?”. When I told him that yes, snow does melt into water, he said “So in Canada, you always have water to drink”. This comment stuck with me, and Hope and I discussed it with Paulette and Heather later that evening. 

We realized that the idea of drinking snow, while perfectly acceptable, is not one that we ever have to contend with. For all four of us, we have running water inside of our homes that is clean enough to drink and bathe in. The fact that the first thing this student thought of was how snow could be used as drinking water was incredibly eye-opening for us, and we realized just how many aspects of Canadian life we take for granted. 

Students waiting for lunch outside the Farmers Helping Farmers sponsored cookhouse

Lessons from the classroom

Hello from Meru town, Kenya!

I am Emily Gallant, one of the pre-service teachers currently completing my practicum in Kenya! I am here with my fellow pre-service teacher Hope Gallant, as well as two volunteers for Farmers Helping Farmers, Heather Jones and Paulette Jones

We have been in Kenya for one week now, after meeting up with Heather and Paulette Jones in Nairobi last Friday, February 21st. After spending a wonderful weekend seeing the sights in the capital city, we arrived in Meru on Monday, February 24th (after a short delay due to a retained debit card…) and made it to the home of our dear friend Jennifer Murogocho!

Students at Kiirua Primary School

We started our teaching practicum at Kiirua Primary School on Tuesday. We arrived at the school with Jennifer, Paulette and Heather, and were warmly greeted by the headmaster and deputy teacher. The day we arrived, Grade 8 was holding a meeting similar to parent-teacher interviews. We were introduced to the students and their parents, and had the opportunity to see how these meetings take place – very interesting!

The students at the school are so incredible. We are amazed at how eager they are to learn, and how focused they are on their studies. At the end of every class, they ask us all of their burning questions about Canada – some of which we absolutely do not expect! We are also enjoying spending our breaks and lunch hours outdoors, with all of the students. It is so nice to have the opportunity to get to know each student at the school outside of the structured classroom.

Hope in the classroom

We had the chance to tag along with Heather and Paulette one afternoon to see how their project is going. They have been visiting many schools in the area, gathering pictures and information from the staff. We have loved visiting these schools and getting to see the impact the cookhouses sponsored by Farmers Helping Farmers have had on so very many students.

We are so lucky to have such a welcoming support team in Kenya.  Jennifer, Tony, Henry, Susan, Peter and Paul have all helped us so much as we navigate Kenya’s cultural terrain. That’s all for this week’s update on our adventures in Kenya – bye for now!

Hope and Emily Gallant
(UPEI Pre-Service Teachers 2020)