20 Things I’ve found in Kenyan Cassrooms but probably won’t in Canadian Ones

1. I’ve taught an entire PE lesson with a small baby in my arms. Did I have to? No, but I couldn’t leave her crying! 2. While prepping my lessons on the staff room floor, a little chick (I’ve ironically … Continue reading

Dear Student Teachers: Go Outside.

The bell has rung and after a flurry at the door you’re left with an almost empty classroom. There are a few scragglers (as always) still trying to fill in their planners or stack their chairs so you don’t waste any time; you look around the room and start compiling your mental to-do list that seems to grow and grow but never be ‘to-done.’ Even before you finish making that never-ending list, even the most distracted student finally needs you to sign their planner. You do so, reminding them not to forget their gym strip on Monday– and boom – like a flash they’re out the door.

My advice to you? Go outside.

Walk the playground. Join in on a basketball game. Play hop scotch or jump rope. Ruffle a few tops of heads and talk to the kids out there. They’re the reason you’re here and when you’re Continue reading

Support our ‘Swimathon for Textbooks’ on November 8th, 2013


Support our student’s ‘Swimathon for Textbooks’ by donating pledges for every lap they swim! On November 8th 2013, our students will be heading to a local swimming pool and will be swimming the height of Kilimanjaro with the support of pledges from around the world! All the money raised will go towards providing much needed textbooks into our classrooms.

If you and your class want to participate in this fundraising event, please email me at: monikastahlstrom@gmail.com for a fundraising package!

Donations can be made through our ‘Just Giving’ and ‘Charitable Trust’ Pages:

Just Giving:http://www.justgiving.com/GVI-Mombasa1
Charitable Trust: http://gvi.org/

An Orphanage is not a Tourist Destination nor am I in ‘Africa’

I took a week long camping safari with Intrepid Tours where I traveled from Nairobi through to the National Parks and sights. I was more than happy to see the Maasai Mara, the Great Rift Valley, Hells Gate – among … Continue reading

Six Weeks Turns Into Six Months

I was pulled away on a Thursday afternoon to have a chat with the project manager. Not really sure what it would be about I went in without any expectations. After a short while I realized what was happening and was beginning to feel hopeful. “Monika, we love what you have done here and the work you’ve been putting in with resources and how to change the programs.  I know that you are going on Safari this weekend – take your time and travel if you like – but instead of flying home after that, we’d like you to stay here as the Education Officer for our project.” Before she finished asking, my heart had already said yes. Continue reading

Celebrating ‘Official School Status’ & My Leaving Ceremony

Nyota Ing’arayo became an official school and today we celebrated. There was pilau, singing, dancing, smiling, and definite laughing going on at the school amongst teachers, staff, volunteers and especially the students. With Nyota becoming a school, the Students of Standard 8 are able to sit their Kenyan Certified Primary Education (KCPE) exam wearing uniforms representing their school. Now it’s official and Nyota is moving on from it’s child care centre days to a government recognized school. Continue reading

Volunteering Abroad as Professional Development for Teachers

Having done a teaching practicum in China, being a teacher in Canada, and now having volunteered in a Standard 3 classroom here in Kenya, one thing is clear: teaching abroad is a worthwhile opportunity for professional development.

In a grade one classroom in Xi'an, China where I taught in 2011

In a grade one classroom in Xi’an, China where I taught in 2011

The obvious aspect of professional development that comes with teaching overseas is adapting to your new environment. No electricity, limited resources, and bright eager students. At times I wondered how easy it would be if I had a document reader or an interactive whiteboard, but instead you have a few textbooks, a blackboard, chalk (sometimes), and an always disappearing eraser which is actually a small plush kitten. You realize quickly that without technology or even an adequate number of textbooks you can still be an effective teacher and find ways to reach your students in the best way you can. Continue reading

The Commute to School

Commuting to school here is much different than at home. At home you’ll find me behind the wheel of my small car with Siri navigating me turn by turn, cursing horrid radio stations as I drink my hastily made coffee.  … Continue reading