Habari! – Our internship at the IAPS

We are Maren and Anja, two student teachers at the WWU Münster, and since the beginning of February in Kenya at the Ilkeek Aare Primary School in Suswa in the beautiful Massai area in the Great Rift Valley.

In the past weeks here at school we have experienced a lot and were able to gather great impressions! The start into the daily routine was made very easy for us: On our first day of our internship we were welcomed very warmly by all students and the teaching staff in the morning assembly – and we learned directly the first word in Kiswahili: Karibu (welcome).

We were immediately integrated into the school routine and took over our first lessons. Especially the English lessons in the very lovely 4th grade was a new teaching situation for us – we had chosen the largest class in the school with a total of 60 children! But since the students are very interested, inquisitive and polite, it works very well and we have a lot of fun together. Overall, the lessons here are very diverse: students do a lot of hands-on activities, such as growing crops in “Agriculture” or learning different sewing stitches in “Home Sciene.” Sometimes the afternoon classes are held outside in the pleasant shade of the “Ilkeek Aare”, the two trees that give the school its name. In addition to lessons, we have also led projects on a variety of topics that have been very popular with the students: The 5th graders explored digital media, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers, and – often for the first time – independently composed a letter using Microsoft Word software. The excitement of being able to write something in different colors and sizes on the computer and to be able to save what I wrote was unbelievable! In addition, we have carried out projects on the continents and countries of the world, as well as on environmental awareness, especially on how to deal with garbage, because here in Kenya, unfortunately, garbage simply ends up on the side of the road. School ends shortly after 3 o’clock, so the afternoon can be used for fun and games. The children can borrow books and board games from us: UNO, Halli Galli, chess or “Mensch ärgere dich nicht” aka “Don’t get angry” are much sought after. In addition, the children play soccer or volleyball, jump rope, tie bracelets or we paint together with watercolors. Overall, the students here show so much interest and enthusiasm for the content, topics and recreational activities, which amazes us. Education has a high value here and the opportunity for education and recreation is very much appreciated! Even in the late evening, people sit down together in the classroom once again, homework is done or the following day’s lessons are prepared.

The boarding school life with the students and teachers is very warm and familiar: the children take care of each other very lovingly and the older ones take the younger ones by the hand, read to them and make sure they go to bed on time. On Sunday mornings, the students independently organize a (three-hour) worship service; the children sing and dance together and read from the Bible. The Christian religion is very important in Kenya and the children impressed us with their consolidated knowledge of the Bible. The exchange with the teachers about teaching, the new curriculum (the CBD – competency based curriculum) and everyday topics is very interesting and enriching for us. They also introduced us to Kenyan cuisine, we prepared chapatis together (very delicious dough patties) and we have also presented German cuisine before.

The environment, which was still very dry and dusty at the beginning of our visit, is now blooming thanks to the beginning of the rainy season. The Maasai herds of cows and goats now graze on the green meadows and the surrounding fields are diligently cultivated by the inhabitants. The main crops grown here are corn, beans and cabbage – also the main ingredients of the meals at the boarding school. There are traditional Kenyan dishes here: ugali (corn porridge) with beans, rice with beans or cabbage and githeri (corn, beans and cabbage). A change for us was that there is no running water at the school (as in the whole surrounding area): Rainwater is collected over the roofs of the school and piped into large tanks, from where the water needed has to be filled into buckets. We enjoy the sun and the great weather here very much, but in the meantime we are also happy about the (very necessary) rain showers in the afternoon.

Currently, a handball camp is held at the school. For this purpose, the German coach Martin Berger, who travels to different countries around the world with the project “handball.inspires”, and an intern from the NGO “Play Handball” are on site. The kids are very motivated and progress quickly in the training, which takes place against a great backdrop – the mountain ranges of the Great Rift Valley.

The support and promotion of education here at IAPS enables the Maasai children to have a good school time in a protected environment, with the goal of being able to lead a self-determined life in the future. We have an unforgettable time here at IAPS and the chance to get to know another country, the people and their culture. In addition, we can gain new experiences in a different school system, in teaching and everyday school life, from which we will certainly benefit personally and especially in our future profession as teachers.

Asante sana Kenya!