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A life changing experience from a teenage volunteer

July 14, 2017

Last week, a group of salesforce volunteers, including me, returned to St. Martin’s School of Nairobi, Kenya. We had new volunteers with great attitudes and returning volunteers with even more excitement than last time. Because we had new volunteers, we had new ideas for activities and ways to help the school and the students. I think the best moment of the trip for me was when we played soccer in the primary playground with not only boys, but girls as well. The students were so competitive and it made me very happy to see that they never stopped trying and really wanted to win. Some of them played without shoes because they did not want to get the only ones they had dirty on the field, so they took them off and played on the rocky and sandy field. Even though not all the kids could play, the rest of primary students were in the crowd cheering and screaming for not one team, but all of us; there were even moments when they all sang “SALESFORCE!” “SALESFORCE!.” My dad was so jealous that we were having so much fun that he had to come in and play with us as well despite the many injuries he got afterwards. I was also impressed with the sportsmanship of some of the students: if one fell, the one from the opposite team would go and help, it was very inspirational. This is a picture of me playing that day:

This trip had something different. We have been working on a long project and it finally went through. The computer system had been installed in the school only a couple of weeks before we got there. We were very excited to see how not only the students, but the teachers interacted with the machines. The first thing we had to do was train the teachers. Last time they had computers installed, they were not used for educational purposes because the teachers didn;t know how to use them. So, with the help of camara.org we managed to train the teachers in time for us to see how the student would interact with it. The first day the students were going to use them, I walked into the class and if I had gone in with my eyes closed, I would think there was nobody there. The class was totally silence: each student with their computer and their headphones playing interactive educational games for literacy. It is an impactful image that will stay in my mind forever.

Another surprise that we had for the teachers this trip was that we had managed to fundraise 20,000 $ to divide amongst the teachers. We were very excited to tell the teachers this amazing news: each teacher would receive and ‘extra’ month payment in their yearly salary. As we told the news, of course, the teachers were excited and happy, however, when we said that our next step would be to introduce a “take-home computer lab” for teacher research, their faces changed and you could only see excitement in their eyes. They were a thousand times more excited for the computers because it would allow them to excel at their job and research more, than for the money. Below is a picture of a computer lab during class. 

Going to St. Martin’s will always be an incredible experience, even if i have been there one hundred times, every time I go back I am surprised with the students bravery, courage, excitement, skills, and talents. Something I noticed from my first trip to the second is the difference in confidence from when a student goes from living in the slum everyday doing whatever to go to school, to being sponsored and having a new uniform. One example is Cynthia, one of the students I am sponsoring. She has demonstrated a HUGE change from the first time I saw her to this past trip. She is now smiling, playing and making friends, a good middle sister and a responsible student. All I can remember her doing is looking down at the ground, not showing her face to us, looking as if she were embarrassed or ashamed. She also didn’t speak english and we needed one of the Sisters to be there to translate. However, this year, she understood everything I said in english and I am very proud of her for that. Below is a picture of a BEFORE SPONSORING and AFTER/DURING SPONSORING:

St. Martin’s has become a great learning community and I can’t wait to go back and make it even better with Salesforce volunteers!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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