Hello from the Daraja Academy campus. It’s Friday morning and the campus is buzzing, preparing for the end of the first term. Incredibly Term 1 will wrap up with 4 days of intensive examinations—starting Monday morning, the girls of Daraja Academy will sit through 9 two-hour assessments in Physics, English, Algebra, Business Studies, Swahili, Biology, History, Chemistry, and Music.
Based on what I have seen in the classroom, I would be very surprised if the students didn’t shine on their exams. Our small class sizes, coupled with weekly tutoring sessions with the MS Kenya/Global Platform volunteers gives them an academic advantage they’ve never had before.
The girls have also requested to have a going away party/talent show on the last night of the term. The idea started a few weeks ago when the Daraja students were invited to the Global Platform (the fancy name for the 2 dorms and 3 rondavels on the southwest corner of Daraja’s campus where the MS Kenya volunteers from Denmark stay) to watch and learn traditional Maasai songs and dances. Our students LOVED IT! The girls were up and dancing regardless of tribe. In fact, thus far I believe Daraja’s strength is the eagerness of our girls to learn, and teach, about Kenya’s diverse tribes.
The day after the dancers visited, I heard a quiet, but beautiful tune coming from the girls’ dorm. Looking into the lounge, a few girls were completing a science project while 2 others lay across two of the couches reading. The sound was coming form the direction of the students’ rooms.
Between 6:30 and 7pm, before the generator has been turned on, the dorm is very oddly lit. The rooms on the eastern side of the building are almost totally dark. While those catching the last rays of the suns’ descent on the western side glows like liquid gold… and that is where the music was coming from.
The only sunlit room large enough to hold 10+ students is the communal bathroom. Betty, one of the students, decided to teach a group of students a traditional Meru song and dance that looked similar to a very complicated congo line. The girls wound in, out, and around the sinks and showers calling out and responding like old pros to a song they’d only just learned.
I was so impressed that at the end, I clapped and bellowed “All Right!”, which sent the students screaming, shocked and embarrassed, into a dozen different directions. However once calm returned, they were abuzz:
“Mr. D, Mr. D, we want to do a show!”
“Mr. D, Marylene, Emily, and I want to write a play!”
“Mr. D, Mr. D, Mr. D…”
So as it stands—Daraja Academy’s first talent night will happen one week from today after 26 girls, who only 3 months ago never thought they would be in secondary school, complete their finals. Girls will sing ancient songs using words they only recently learned. Students from historically hostile tribes will move their feet together in unison. And in unison they will smile, and I will cry, and the world will be right.
Thank you for supporting Daraja Academy.