GWHT Fellows return for the 2nd year to the WISER school in Muhuru Bay, Kenya |UNDERGRADUATE FELLOWS

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

Jenna Peters

Just a few days after arriving at WISER, I was describing my schedule to my parents as if I already had been here for weeks. I think the ease with which I have settled back into being at WISER is in large part due to the warmth and openness of the teachers, students, and staff. They don’t treat me as if I am an outsider but instead have welcomed me back to be a part of the WISER family. The weeks that I spent at WISER last summer have easily blended into the time I am spending here now.

What is different from last summer, however, is my purpose for being here. Last year, two other students and I were conducting interviews and performing data collection related to the water system created by WISER, UNICEF WASH, and the Muhuru Bay Water Board to provide clean water to the community. My days often consisted of data entry and analysis, which was well within what I was comfortable doing.

This summer, I have abandoned my comfort zone to attempt teaching. Currently, I am teaching 89 students about entrepreneurship and financial literacy, 24 students about how entrepreneurship can be applied to engineering, and six students about the basics of building a flashlight (a review of the curriculum taught by Pratt students Kendall Covington and Mikayla Wickman last year). At this point, I have just had one session with each of the three groups.

Even after just one session, my lack of teaching experience is apparent. I was naive to think that the same strategies to keep students on task or encourage students to participate would work in all three classrooms, and I am now working to identify new strategies that are tailored to each group. I was additionally naive to think that the teaching strategies that I learned from teachers in the U.S. would translate to a Kenyan classroom. Teacher’s expectations of students, students’ expectations of teachers, learning styles, teaching philosophies, and many other aspects of education all differ dramatically. Though these differences will be challenging to understand and overcome, I am confident that with the help of the teachers and students, we can find an interesting mix between the teaching and learning styles of both countries.

A group of WISER girls working to describe the needs they see in their community.

Picture: A group of WISER girls working to describe the needs they see in their community.

--- Jenna Peters, GWHT Fellow, Duke University '17

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