Since the moment we left San Francisco, we have been on a nonstop adventure of new sights and experiences. Even with all of the amazing excursions and new places I’ve been able to see, my favorite part of this trip so far has been all of the time that I have been able to interact with the CHI Academy students. They are the most enthusiastic, happy and loving kids that I have ever gotten to spend time with. On the first day that we went to the school, Director James took us on a tour of all the classrooms to introduce ‘the visitors’. In most of the classes, James asked the students a simple question: “Who in this classroom likes to read?”. The enthusiasm with which they responded took me by surprise. The students’ hands shot up in a second, and they were clamoring out of their seats with huge smiles on their faces. The excitement that they showed about their education demonstrated exactly what kind of kids these students are. They are dedicated, curious, and very happy to be here. During the students’ break, we’re able to spend time talking and playing with them. Whenever I ask them what they hope to be when they grow up, I hear answers from doctors, scientists, pilots and even more accomplished professions. These answers display the drive that each of these students’ hold.
Not only are these students amazingly smart and determined, but also loving and considerate. Since our arrival at the school, the kids have adopted us into their regular playtime activities. We spend breaks skipping rope, dancing, playing hand clap games, thumb wrestling, and braiding hair. Almost anything we do is filled with excitement and joy. I have spent so much time smiling and laughing with these genuinely happy kids.
On Wednesday, we were able to make home visits to four student homes. These visits made the students’ happiness and state of mind even more amazing to me. The living conditions are incomparable to anything where I live. We visited one room homes that housed four to five-person families. Rooms that would even be considered small for a single bedroom, are serving as an entire house. Some students had to take public transportation, small vans called matatus, to school every day by themselves. Staying in school is often a daily struggle for them and it reminds me of how lucky I am to have such easy access to a quality education. It makes me realize how much I, and many other students in America, take for granted. We complain about homework, having to take school buses, and many other problems that would be considered insignificant here. Despite all of the obstacles of education, CHI Academy students come to school with smiles on their faces, ready to learn.
Overall, this trip has been everything I ever could have imagined and more. At least once a day, I find that I have to remind myself I’m in Kenya. This has been a travel dream of mine for so long and I am so thankful that I have been able to experience it in such an immersive and eye-opening way.
If you know a high school student who is interested in applying for our Summer Abroad program, please click here.
If you would like to contribute to our Summer Abroad scholarship fund, click here.