Cross-Cultural Connections in Kenya
All classrooms are powerful, but Global Playground classrooms have a special spark when it comes to preparing students to embrace an increasingly multicultural world. In January 2017, Global Playground began developing curriculum with teachers and students at Global Playground’s latest project site in Megwarra village in the Siana Ward of Narok County, Kenya.
For the past several months, teachers at Siana Girls’ High School (SGHS) have been using cross-cultural curriculum to reinforce learning objectives for students in Form 1 and Form 2 (grades 9 and 10). This curriculum was created in partnership with Global Playground to explore global citizenry, give students a forum to share their cultural identity, and engage with students at other Global Playground schools.
The curriculum has so far provided surprising insights regarding the unique community at SGHS. Kenya is home to 42 tribes, many of which have their own language and set of cultural norms. A majority of the Megwarra population belong to the Maasai tribe and SGHS lies in the heart of Maasai land. SGHS students come from diverse backgrounds and by using the cross-cultural curriculum they are able to engage in dialogue about things that are important to their identities.
In Ms. Diana’s Form 1 English class, students write ‘pen pal’ letters to their peers at Global Playground’s project site in Khe Sanh, Vietnam; share folklore passed down by their grandparents; and use Global Playground’s ‘A Day in the Life’ photo series to examine life at other Global Playground sites, while they reinforce lessons on the simple present tense. Dialogue and exchange has become a part of the learning process and with Global Playground’s commitment to building a library and media center, the school’s ability to begin and participate in dialogue will increase ten-fold.
Currently, teachers at SGHS borrow a single shared laptop from a neighboring primary school to create lesson plans. All exchanges have taken place using the mobile app WhatsApp or have been facilitated through Global Playground staff members.
Construction of the Global Playground library and media center at SGHS will be complete by the beginning of the next Kenyan school year in January 2018. This summer, Global Playground’s former Vietnam Teaching Fellow and current Domestic Fellow, Scott Gemmell-Davis, will complete an abbreviated fellowship to facilitate new cross-cultural exchanges in partnership with SGHS teachers and community members.