My Best and Not-So-Best Moments:
The highlights of my PACE experience at Madaraka was, without a doubt, the banter that I enjoyed with many of the students I taught. It was a real joy just interacting with the students and being able to convey to them the information I sought to teach them in a relaxed way. While it is a bit too early to tell, it is my hope that the friendly and applicable manner of my teaching was successful in developing interest in, and allaying fear and negative attitude towards mathematics in particular (which was my primary subject).
My not-so-best, but perhaps most instructive and insightful moments were those where I learnt about some of the difficult material circumstances some of the students were in. There was a week in particular, when several school charges were due from the students’ parents/guardians and it became very apparent, the socioeconomic pressures children so young already have to endure. It was a bit difficult to grapple with so blatant a manifestation of economic hardship.
If I had stayed longer…
Had I been able to spend more time at Madaraka (and I sure wish I could!) I would really want to continue with the one-on-one structured support I was providing a number of students in English and Mathematics. While I am hopeful that the sessions we had together were useful, I know more time was needed to really make permanent the gains we had made. That said, I tried as much as possible, even when teaching entire classes, to impart learning strategies that would enable the students to continue learning and studying successfully on their own.
How has PACE changed me? What next?
As a student of public policy and African studies, I often encounter issues of education, development and social welfare in my academics. What my 2 months volunteering with PACE has done for me is to really contextualize, and in many ways complicate, the theories I come across in my coursework. My PACE experience has therefore enriched my college education.
Also, when considering what my role is in contributing to social change, I have almost always focused on the larger, macro, policy processes. While I still believe that that there is where real change happens, my time with PACE has convinced me that even at the grassroots level of civil society, where one’s sphere of influence is smaller, one call still effect change that might not seem so small to the person one is working with.
On a more personal level though – volunteering at Madaraka has shown me that teaching is work that I would be very happy doing. I can think of nothing else that has gratified me as much. As a result, education is a life path that has very much been put on the table