Covers the last three weeks actually.
We are still waiting as far as Kenya is concerned. Details can be found under the Kenya News links on the right side of this blog.
Kiara: We’ve always been happy with Kiara’s school and feel like she was doing fine. But every now and then we wonder how she compares with her American counterparts. Thanks to Karin Jessup we now know. A few weeks ago, Karin, trained in special education, got a copy of the KTEA (Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement) and gave her a test. Kiara is a year or more ahead of the American schedule for most of her subjects (except spelling and math computation) and several years ahead in reading. Since Kiara is ranked 3rd in her own class (Kiswahili keeps her honest), the principal of the primary school was quite pleased with these results (not to say anything of Kiara’s mother.) It will be a while before we worry again about what kind of education she is getting here. [Update: Kiara has a fever today.]
Leila: got her first school uniforms on Monday and is quite proud of them. Unfortunately, she’s been a little sick lately. At first we thought it was a mild case of the measles, but now it looks like a flu. She still insisted on going to school every day. Quote of the week: [Tuesday, after spending the weekend at grandma’s house:] “Get Grandma on the phone and ask if we kids can come over tomorrow.”
Liam: goes to school every day now and stays all morning. If the girls are too slow, he walks up on his own. (Not bad for a 20 month old). Many afternoons, he lobbies to go back again, but usually he conks out for a 3 hour nap after as soon as his belly is full with lunch. His parents are quite happy that he races to the safety of the roadside whenever he hears a car engine. We don’t have to panic anymore whenever he runs out the door. He sings constantly – especially when going to bed.
Christi: Christi had a minor fender-bender a couple of weekends ago. She made a turn on one of the typical corners in Kenya – pedestrians all over the place and no visibility. Suddenly, a truck came speeding out of nowhere on the shoulder and clipped the front of the car. Could have been worse. The truck which was “overspeeding” as they say here only had a minor dent on the gas tank. It was hard to tell whose fault it was, and the truck driver seemed to admit it was his, but then some of his friends started suggesting that this would be a good opportunity to get some money out of a mzungu. Christi drove off before his friends could change his mind. Now the car looks newer than ever, repaired at our own expense, but without all the hassle that might go along with trying to get the other guy to pay.
Pistis school: Most of Christi’s time is taken with the kids’ school. She’s up there almost every day. Earlier this week, she even painted (rag-rolling, stripes and stars) one of the classrooms to give it a creative feel. The principal was so pleased with the result that she wants to commission Christi to decorate her house when the construction is over. Kiara’s class of 16 kids will move into the classroom on Monday. Yesterday, Christi filled the new bookshelves with books donated and shipped by Paul Kato, the son of NEGST founder Byang Kato
Communications: NEGST has a new director of Communication and Development, and so Christi introduced herself to him at the beginning of this week. He seems very eager to draw on her expertise and experience, so on Thursday, she joined them for an all-day strategic planning meeting. She’s already done a couple of interviews and written up stories for them, so she’s staying quite busy.
Bead Rolling: Over the last several months, we have been helping Mary Magadalen, a Sudanese refugee woman. Six of her nine kids live with her here; the older ones still live in Sudan; the youngest one here is five years old. (Mary lost 2 husbands to war in Sudan.). Anyway, Mary makes jewelry out of beads rolled from magazines, and Christi has been helping her market them. Just before Christmas, Mary came to the school and taught all the kids how to roll beads for making Christmas ornaments. Now Christi is addicted to bead rolling (giving the beads to Mary.) She rolls them while reading a book, relaxing or visiting with friends. It’s better than a stress ball. She got Njeri and Nicholas a ruler, scissors and glue, and now they are rolling beads too—they say they find it very enjoyable to help pass the evening hours.
Njeri and Nicholas: Njeri has decided to transfer Nicholas (11 years) to Pistis. They’ve been considering it for a while but had been reluctant earlier because it would mean having to go back a grade (from sixth to fifth – though he barely passed into sixth), and it would mean a long commute for Nicholas. But this week was the final straw. His whole class was cutting up so badly that the subject teacher just walked out. When the homeroom teacher came back and no one confessed, she made them all kneel on the hot asphalt. While all of them are there crying as their knees blistered up, she singled out Nicholas (who just happens to be one of the smallest kids in the class) and asked him to point out the main noisemakers. Naturally this meant that these bigger, trouble-making boys beat him up after school.
It should be a great move for Nicholas. He will go from being one of 70 kids per teacher to being in a class of 5. He will get a lot more individual attention, his English should flourish and it’s just a nicer environment. Plus he will get to commute and eat lunch with his mother.
Ben: I learned this week that my supervisor is going to be leaving in June. By then, the early parts of my dissertation should be up and running, but it is still a big blow – more for the program than for me. I think his family hung on as long as they could, but long-term financial pressures finally made them have to bite the bullet and get jobs in the states. He will be the associate professor of New Testament at Asbury’s Orlando campus and his wife will be teaching communications at Central Florida U. So that end of my dissertation will be supervised by e-mail and Skype. I’ll have to make the most of his remaining time here.
Something’s been going around. We’ve all been feeling groggy. I haven’t come down with anything specific, but I’ve been unable to drag myself out of bed early in the morning even though I’ve been going to bed on time. And the energy levels are still low. I did manage to play soccer on Wed, and took Leila and Liam for our traditional Saturday morning jog, but it took a lot of effort.
Tomorrow, I will be giving about 10 minutes of a 30 minute presentation on ethnicity at one of the local churches.
That’s all the news from Lake Woebegon