Inquirer: We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.
Today we visited the Kpaachi Yili village and school. My education continued as I learned about a new village and the school we call a ‘sister’ school. We first visited a spot where WATERisLIFE is building latrines for the village. The villagers are now participating in a program where they can purchase latrines for their family. Next, we are greeted at the school, which I now know is a K-5 primary school. In order to go to a junior high school, the children must travel 5 to 10 miles away. As is customary here, the first thing we did was to sit down with the headmaster, staff, and leaders of the school to have a conversation about the reason for our visit. I gave all the items Odyssey sent with me (pen pal letters, rulers, pencils, sharpeners) to the headmaster and for the next hour, we matched the pen pal letters. Because the school is K-5, I am bringing some letters from the K-2 grades to distribute to our elementary campuses. After matching the letters, we took a picture of each student from the school so we can print their pictures upon our return.
After we got all the students needs taken care of, we moved the desk of the headmaster to under a tree and used the opportunity for the Kpaachi Yili staff to ask me questions. Before we got to the inquiry, however, one of the village leaders wanted to present me with a goose. Yep, a goose. Not surprising, I will not be bringing said goose home with me. Just know that she sure was pretty. ;) To set this picture up for you completely, let me share some key observations upon my arrival. The school has no water and no electricity. It has two hand washing stations and latrines. The children wear uniforms but they are torn, ill-fitting, and most of them are considerably dirty. The children leave to eat lunch at home and many do not return to school afterward. There are aphid type bugs everywhere – I am still picking them out of my backpack. At one point, I probably offended half in attendance when I couldn’t stop myself from picking one out of my shirt, oops. Their needs are many but we agreed on the main point: education is the life blood of the community and the world, but you cannot educate healthy, alert minds unless you have the basics (water, sanitation, hygiene) covered.
The differences in our school, education and culture are vast. It is difficult to imagine. Privilege is too pretty of a word to describe the difference between what we have and what they do not have. However, it was a humbling moment when we sit down with the staff of the school and their questions to me show that we are always more ‘same’ than different!
A few of their questions:
- How do you get the children to behave?
- Who pays for your uniforms?
- How much training do your teachers receive?
- Do you take attendance? How do you get kids to show up?
- How do you get them to solve problems?
- When do your children know what they are going to do for a living?
- Do they take a lot of tests? How do you measure their progress?
- How do you get their parents not to do the work for them?
Right??? Odyssey can you hear me? Here I sit in a remote village in Africa and the conversation is the same! So, I did what I do. I spoke to them about Responsive Classroom, Love and Logic, taking time to work on procedures at the beginning of the year to get the results they want, invoking the love of learning with a program that helps promote a life-long learner, ask deeper questions to get deeper answers, and on and on. They asked our teachers to come give training. :) I suggested some video question/answer sessions back and forth to start.
My lesson of being an inquirer today and listening to others is that we are not alone in our basic needs and desires. The connection to others is never far away when we ask questions. Let us never stop asking questions or finding common ground. Naawuni nisung.
P.S. The writing of these children is very impressive! Even at the 2nd-grade level, the penmanship is amazing. They are doing some good work there!