My Experience in Kenya

When I decided to come to Kenya simply because i was trying to satisfy my passion for travelling in a manner that could become a component to my future résumé. My life has afforded me with many travelling opportunities, but what I experienced with my program went well beyond my expectations and is incomparable to my past experiences. I was deposited in an extremely rural village-- the kind without electricity or running water, dirt floors and firewood stoves that you know about in theory but do not really understand practically-- and learned to call it home.

I came as a volunteer in a primary school, having never taught before and was slightly horrified upon arrival. The day I made it to my village, I was brought to the school and greeted by the students. The next day I observed the other teachers, was given copies of the students' math and English books and was expected to start teaching the following day. Well, as I said, I was terrified but took a deep breath and hoped for the best. The students are incredibly well-behaved and I feel they would have shown me respect even if I had shown up in my underwear. The teachers seemed to have total faith in me and never sat in on one of my classes. I had no idea what I was doing, had exactly zero feedback and was responsible for the actual education of real flesh and blood children.

Needless to say, I felt completely lost that first week. I had no idea what the students thought of me, if they were learning anything from me and felt awful for experimenting with this whole teacher thing when their education was on the line. But, I did not give up hope and by the second week I started to form a routine and learn my pupils' names, which helped a lot. Around this time my host mom told me that the students really did like me and I had noticed some of them playing their version of capture the flag, which I had taught them during PE. These two things boosted my confidence which helped me to relax and I started to have fun in class. By the third week I had completely let go of the idea that I was expected to work magic, had become very attached to my students, had befriended the teachers and visited a few and was dreading the day when I would have to leave. By my fourth and final week I had figured out that everything I was teaching from the book had already been taught, did my own thing and had a blast. Then the dreaded day arrived and I had to leave just as I was starting to get ingenious ideas for things I would like to do in the classroom. The unquestioning attitude of the teachers and students that I know what I was doing was a great driving force and, although I would not consider myself a qualified teacher, I learned an incredible amount from my month in the classroom. I truly came to love my students and will miss them greatly. But, I will miss my family even more.

When I first got to my house I was shocked by the dirt floors, my tiny room and was afraid that I would have serious communication problems with my mom. But, I soon learned that she spoke much more English than I originally thought and that any problems we might have were smoothed over by her genuine compassion. I was also surprised to find that after a couple days I no longer noticed the dirt floors and was completely used to not having electricity or running water. It makes sense though; that was the way my family was used to living. It was normal to them and they made it work flawlessly, so it became normal to me. My youngest brother was obviously very excited to have me there but was incredibly shy. Both the older of my two brothers and my dad made me realize how little I know about my country with millions of questions about what kind of crops we grow, how farms are operated, what the cost of land is, the exact workings of the government and on and on. My brother was also very keen on telling me everything about Kenya and I was impressed with how much he knew about his country.

On my first day, my family did not let me do any work. But, I was determined to become a component of the family and not just a stranger staying in their home, so insisted on helping out. For the first couple weeks I felt greatly under-estimated. No one seemed to have any expectations of me. So, minor feats such as making it back from school alone, shelling peas and learning greetings, were greatly impressive. I started to get very annoyed with the fact that every time I asked to help out my mom would ask, "Are you sure you will make it?" But I always said that I would try. After a while she got used to the idea that I wanted to help and was not totally useless and would not hesitate to give me chores. I had become a part of the family!

Finding where I fit into the family machine and fabric of the school and village were not particularly hard for me but I had some trouble getting used to the intense Christianity of the place. I am not a particularly religious person so going to church and praying before every single meal was a little strange. Whenever someone found out that I did not go to church back home they were totally shocked and two men made it their mission to save me.that I was not at all prepared for and it was most definitely the most challenging part of the entire trip.

On my third weekend I took my brothers to Mombassa, on the coast. At first I did not realize exactly how special this would be. But, many people in the area have never even been to Nairobi and most, including my parents, have never been to Mombassa. The boys had never been swimming or seen the ocean. It was absolutely magical playing in the water with my youngest brother and I will always remember the way he laughed and clutched my hand as we were plummeted by the small waves.

My parents told me that the boys will always remember me because of that trip and I hope they do. I can never forget them. My last morning there was incredibly sad. As I said, I truly felt I had become a part of the family and now I was being torn away, it just was not fair. I think we all cried during breakfast, even my dad had tears in his eyes. I promised I would come back and next time I will have to stay longer than a month. I now have a Kenyan family who I love and who loves me, I don't know what could be more special than that.

Thank you every body for this wonderful time

GK, Kenya



What does posting on a review site have to do with having a job? I guess I don\'t have a job either? And neither do you? And you have been lied to if you think she got kicked out of the program. And if you are the one making up the lie, shame on you!
\"Debbika\" and \"Tabu\" it is clear you are not volunteers. NO volunteers on our program that were there when Heather and I were there liked it. Everyone hated it. I believe you are Rustic program staff! Stop making childish accusations and try to fix the issues with your program!
don\'t you have any work, I know that you were kicked out from the program because you never paid the program fee.
There is more than just one unhappy volunteer from your programs. Look around at some of the feedback you have been receiving! I hope Heather posts on here to show how bad your company is.
Jgeorge you are Heather Newgen.
Are you serious? Look at the videos!! How can we have not been there? It is disgusting how many unsatisfied volunteers were there and yet you try to hide it! You have shown in the past that when we try to speak up, you try to sue us, so we will not complain. We will not be bullied by your company!
jgeorge who is replying below is not a volunteer for this program .
I was in Kenya recently when Heather was there. However, as soon as she started exposing your company you started threatening legal action against her! When has it become illegal to expose a bad volunteer program?? I know you could never sue me but I am still not going to give you the chance to threaten me (like you have threatened old volunteers who did not like your program).
who are you George, what is your real name.
Are you serious? I met no other volunteer at the house, that was happy with the program. The whole thing was terrible. When were you there? Are you actually a volunteer? Given the feedback of all the volunteers there, I struggle to believe this is a genuine post. See what the volunteers there thought by looking at these videos.... is this a good company? You make your own decision! BTW - This company is exactly the same as these companies - RUSTIC VOLUNTEER AND TRAVEL - GLOBAL CROSSROADS - IFRE - RDCP INTERNATIONAL They are owned by the same Nepali man who lives in the US. Be careful!!!