“This is something that may change your attitude about history,” says Teacher Victoria to the Form 2 class.

 Before the girls’ most recent break in April, they were given an assignment to interview some of the elders in their communities. Their goal was to learn about that what had happened in that person’s life—their challenges and their joys—in order to produce an oral history of their community.

They were prepared with lessons on effective interview techniques, and practice interviews with their peers before going out into their communities.

Last week, the girls came together to talk about this assignment, which was designed by the University of San Diego Learning and Teaching Faculty.  They gathered in the lounge, wedged five or six to a sofa, with teachers Victoria and Carol and volunteer Maria, who is helping implement the project. As it was outside of class time, some girls had changed out of their uniforms into warmer clothes for the evening; others stayed in their uniforms but loosened their ties.

Several of the girls said that they were unsure about the assignment when they first heard about it. But once they got out there and started talking to the people in their communities, the girls confessed that this had become one of their favourite assignments.

In an hour and a half, only six girls were able to share what they had learned over their breaks—the stories they shared were at times hilarious, haunting or heart-breaking. Their classmates listened intently, with a few much-needed breaks for fits of giggles. Some of the girls sat with an arm draped across a neighbour’s shoulder or played with a friend’s hair while listening to the presenter.

There were stories of escape, persecution, rape, marriage, children, and education; and opinions on the role of women in society, circumcision, and tribal differences.

The girls will continue working together to share these stories before collaborating them into a historical document that can be shared with their communities, future Daraja students and visitors, as well as people all over the world.