Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
Six Daraja Students Celebrate the Islamic Holiday of Ramadan
Islam is one of the numerous religions represented at Daraja. The most important celebration in Islam is Ramadan. Ramadan occurs in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and begins depending on the cycle of the moon. This year, the holiday began on July 20th and concludes on August 18th. There are six Muslim girls at Daraja who celebrate Ramadan and each of them carries the tradition at Daraja, even apart from their families. Ramadan represents different ideas to each girl. According to Form 4 Hadija, “Ramadan is a month of prayer to fast to show love and remember the poor. We do it the whole day without taking anything and it unites people all over the world in the Muslim community.”
Form 4s Hadija and Leila
Each day, the six girls wake up at 4am to pray and eat breakfast before the sun rises. One difference between Daraja and home according to Hadija is that “at home there is a group of boys who volunteer themselves to wake the village up with drums.” The girls then go until sunset (around 6:45pm) without food or water. This year the holiday coincides with final exams and the girls say fasting does not affect their learning. As Form 1s, Ramadan is difficult until one has a routine, but over four years the girls have become accustomed to fasting. Form 4 Leila also says, “Ramadan is not as difficult as people think.”
Form 3 Shamsia
For the past three years, Leila and Hadija have ended Ramadan at Daraja, far away from their home in Isiolo. However, this year, the girls will be able to celebrate Eid, or the end of Ramadan, with their families. “We have a sermon and pray in the morning and after that we break the fast with lots of food. We also have a party and invite the poor to celebrate with our families,” says Leila. The girls are excited to be able to share their experience of Ramadan with the other Muslim students at Daraja, but are also happy bring the tradition back home.
Friday, July 20th, 2012
Students learn about social justice in WISH, Volleyball lessons, and the Final Exams begin
It has been a quiet week at Daraja following many busy weeks. The term is winding down and students are heading into final exams, but there is always something going on at Daraja.
WISH Classes on Social Justice
WISH Intern Tehsin Jaffer has been working with the Form Fours on a new social justice curriculum. Tehsin is currently getting her Masters in Social Work with a focus in International Development. She has been holding focus groups with Daraja staff to help figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the WISH curriculum as well as develop and restructure some lesson plans. The first topic was on consciousness raising to help students understand how people from different backgrounds can feel joint impressions about the same issue. The second lesson of the series was on different forms of power. The girls brainstormed different definitions of power. The goal was to help recognize positive and negative ways of relationships and style of leadership. Empowering young leaders is one of the goals of Daraja and Tehsin hopes the WISH lessons will show the girls how they can be leaders in their home communities.
The girls favorite activity was practicing hitting.
Volunteer Coaches Volleyball
The Daraja volleyball team had much success this year at the county tournament. To help the girls become even stronger for next year, volunteer Karri Woods worked with Daraja girls specifically on their technique. Back in California, Karri is a volleyball coach at The Bishop School in La Jolla, California. She even worked with Coach Chris, who is also the Head of Security and taught him drills he can use with the girls. The fun afternoon ended in a student-staff game, which was a great practice opportunity for the girls.
Form Fours began their Term Two final exams on Thursday. In order to prepare for their upcoming KCSE exams in the fall, their exams are set up exactly as they will be in a few months. This is to prepare the girls for the difficult task of taking multiple long, in-depth tests in one day over a few weeks. The Form Threes will begin their exams on Monday with the Form One and Twos following on Wednesday. Good luck girls!
It was fun for all in the students vs. staff volleyball game!
Carla has a rocket hit
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Family Trees Provide Comfort and Learning Opportunities
Esther, Irene, and Carla at Carla’s reporting day in 2011.
When a new Daraja girl arrives on reporting day, it is a big change in her life. It is one of happiest days of her life, but also an overwhelming one. Thankfully, the first person to welcome her to campus is her new big sister. Each new student is part of a family with three big sisters from From Two-Four. Reporting girls have said the most helpful thing on the first day is having a sister they know is watching out for them. The connection the sisters make is an immensely valuable one. Sisters look to each other for advice, and big sisters know they need to set an example for their little sisters, who look up to them.
Carla and Irene today.
According to Form Two Carla, “in a family, girls are more open to each other,” because they truly feel like a family and trust their sisters as if they were truly related. Carla’s little sister is Form One Alice and her big sisters are Form Three Irene and Form Four Esther. Irene says she really looks up to Esther and cherishes her advice. Together the four girls have done numerous activities such as planting trees around campus, having family meals, and helping each other during study hall. The girls also stay in the same dorm and are always available to each other for advice. In addition, the girls see their family as an educational opportunity where the sisters learn about each others family, tribe, and home. With 31 tribes and numerous religions represented at Daraja, each girl has her own unique experiences from home to share with other students.
Friday, July 13th, 2012
Students compete in music and sports competitions, Form 2s host Health Day, University of San Diego works with teachers.
Students Compete in Music and Sports Competitions
The choral competition students visit the Great Rift Valley Lookout Point on their way home.
42 Daraja students competed in sports and music competitions over the past weekend with great success. 30 students traveled to Narok in Southwestern Kenya to compete at the District Music Festival. Girls competed in English Solo Verse, Public Speech, Swahili Solo, Swahili Rap, Choral Verse, and Swahili Public Speech. Form 2 Naomi, who performed a Swahili Rap and finished 8th overall, said the performance “helps people build courage because it’s not easy to go in front of a crowd and perform.” Toward the West of Kenya in Nyaharuru, 22 athletes competed in football and table tennis. The football team finished 3rd and the table tennis team 2nd. Form 2 table tennis player Anita described her experience as an athlete of one of the smallest schools in the tournament, “we came in as the underdogs and many didn’t expect us to do well. But, we didn’t lose hope. We showed them we are not the only ones who came to play and we amazed them.” Great work girls!
Form 2s Host Community Health Day
Form 2s educate the audience on Cholera
On Thursday, as part of their yearlong project -based learning, the Form 2s concluded the project with a community health day where the girls educated the local communities of Naibor, Mara Moja, Ol Girgiri, and Loruko about specific health issues. In order to determine which diseases and health issues to focus on, the girls talked with community members to see which diseases affect them the most. From their data, the girls focused on a few topics such as Cholera, hygiene, Ringworm, and nutrition. Around 250 children, students, parents, and elders showed up to participate in the event. The girls used skits to educate the audience about diseases as well as talk about nutrition and hygiene. The Form 2s showed the audience how to wash hands correctly and passed out soap to all in attendance. The audience was very receptive to the girls during question and answer periods. One of the major highlights of the day was the appearance of the large characters Atieno and Juma to help entertain the crowd. A few of the audience members commended the girls for their work because few members of the community are able to visit doctors and the information learned today will help them stay healthier in the future. Irene W, said the purpose of the event was to inform the community about health and diseases that were affecting them, but that they didn’t know the causes and cures for. She was really excited that the event was successful and the community responded positively.
University of San Diego Visits
USD Professor Rob works with Daraja students and teachers.
University of San Diego concluded their weeklong visit on Friday. Much of their visit was working on professional development and long-term planning with the teachers and administration. The focus of this planning was project-based learning (PBL), which is the idea that what is learned in the classroom can be applied to real-life experiences in the form of projects, such as the health project the Form 2s completed. Daraja teachers worked with USD to brainstorm different PBLs that could be used at Daraja. In addition, USD students and professors, all of whom are teachers themselves, sat in on classes and then worked with teachers on ways to improve their teaching techniques. In addition, the teachers were given iPads to enhance classroom learning. On the iPads are various applications that help the teachers plan lessons, record videos, and link with the iPods Form 1 students were given. Teacher Charles said the week was a great learning experience for both Daraja teachers and USD students in a cross-cultural education experience.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Daraja girls learn how to use iPods in the classroom
Daraja Form 1 Students and University of San Diego Faculty and Students
Tuesday was an exciting day at Daraja as the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences presented the teachers with iPads and Form 1 students with iPods. The goal of the new technology is to provide students and teachers with an environment where they can critically consume information, collaborate, and create new projects. The iPods are part of a research project to understand how mobile devices can be used to enrich education and hopefully can extend the success to other schools around Kenya and East Africa.
USD student Chris and Form 1 Rachel
The iPads and iPods are equipped with numerous applications that aid in learning. For example, there is a 3D anatomy application where students can dissect a human body and see the different layers of tissue, muscle, and bone. The iPods have books, demonstrations, and videos that all create an enriched learning environment that will help extend a Daraja girl’s learning beyond campus. USD Professor Heather Lattimer said she and her Graduate Students are training the teachers how they can use their iPads to record videos of lessons and send it to all the iPods for students to watch whenever they need to.
The girls were quick to learn about the camera and video recorder.
The Form 1s were overjoyed to receive the iPods, especially Hannah who couldn’t wait to receive her own device, “I could not believe it. This will help me in my studies. If I am doing an experiment, I can record it and re-watch it so I can understand what is going on at each step. It is an improved technology. If many schools have it, they can improve education.” That is the goal of the project; improve education for the Daraja girls. It is a new way of learning that will help the girls critically engage in their own education.
Rebecca, Deborah, Juliet, and Doreen
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Daraja and Marin Academy students work together to facilitate campus-wide water audit, W.I.S.H. classes
In their 3rd consecutive annual summer visit to campus led by Daraja board member Mark (and wife, Johanna) Stefanski, the Marin Academy of California arrived last week to facilitate W.I.S.H. classes, collaborate on a water audit project, co-instruct computer classes, and experience life as a Daraja girl first hand.
“Marin Academy has brought inspiration to Daraja,” Maureen, Form 4 said. “What I mean is that they bring new ways to learn about skills that we already have. They make things like journaling, art, and computer skills fun and feel new.”
This annual visit gives students an opportunity to collaborate on teaching methods, learning moments and swap stories about high school experiences.
“It has been a really rewarding experience to return to campus three years later and see how much its changed and reconnect with the girls,” said Olivia, an alumnus of Marin Academy and former Daraja intern. “It has been equally refreshing to experience it through the lenses of the Marin Academy students who are taking it all in for the first time. The most common take away from our reflection meetings every day here is just how much we are all learning from the Daraja students.”
Marin Academy is also tutoring, working in the farm, teaching journaling, art photography and computers.
Working together in photography classes
Repainting the shamba