Over the past three years, we have hosted student groups from Centennial College in Canada as part of their Global Citizenship and Equity Learning Experience (GCELE). I speak for all of us at RVA in saying that it has not only been an amazing experience for them but also for all of us in Kenya as we have met so many wonderful people from all over the world who have been part of these trips over the past years. With another group of 16 students preparing to come this month, it's a pleasure to share some thoughts from the group that came last year and say asante sana to Rex Taylor for introducing Centennial to RVA, Brendan Chapman for leading the previous years and karibu sana to Centennial again!
Because of these experiences, and NOT things, I was able to form deeper connections with people than I normally do. I was forced to disconnect from the online world and have more face-to-face interactions. In the culture which I was brought up in, so many people spend their whole lives making money to spend on gadgets and trinkets. They spend their life working so they can buy things to fill their houses with and buy clothes, so they can feel connected to different industries. What this trip has reinforced for me, though, is the same question I’ve been asking myself for years. “Why have these things and items, if you don’t have anyone who you love to share them with?” (Laura Humphries)
On this GCELE, I received the best welcome and something unparallel to places I have visited before. Holding hands with elderly woman, dancing and singing loudly, I felt like moving into a trance. Experiences like these made African culture even more close to my heart. Being with 15 young leaders and 4 really cool faculty members for two weeks while living very close to nature and meeting inspiring figures like Rosemary has left a huge impact on me. Thanks to the sharing sessions at the end of each day which really helped to absorb so many things going around.(Rajmaninderdeep Brar)
How do I even begin to describe my experience in Kenya? A lot of people say they can’t find the words to describe something so influential and beautiful, me on the other hand, I have too many words to describe my experience and picking the right ones will be hard. (Brittany Brown)
Every morning we would wake up at around 5:30 am. We were not required to do so, but we wanted to take in the most from the experience. Hence, we would wake up early to watch the sunrise. Along with the sunrise, we would see different animals not 50m away from us. We would see baboons, impalas, elephants, and much more that I am not smart enough to name.
Our job was not to fix or resolve the social issues, but rather to educate ourselves on the social issues affecting the communities. On our first day at the school, we met with the students and played small interactive games with them. Even though there was a language barrier, we managed to play simple games. Some that we lead, others that were lead by the kids.
To those that are reading this, I urge you to get involved in such causes. They will change your life in ways you won’t comprehend. This Kenya GCELE was the best experience of my life. (Karm Patel)
Dipesh has a created a first-rate service learning experience at Rift Valley Adventures. Our Centennial College group out of Toronto was treated to one unique and rewarding experience after another at Irura Primary School, Twala Masai Women’s Centre and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. After a challenging and fun day building desks for Irura or learning traditional crafts from Masai women, our group was greeted back at camp with excellent meals and a beautiful setting in which to unwind. The wildlife tours in Ol Pejeta were outstanding, with rare opportunities to encounter endangered species like the Northern White Rhino and learn about the challenges of conservation. Joyce was a phenomenal guide—informative, fun and patient, as was our driver William, and Francis, our Masai guide. A great way to both enjoy and learn about the brilliant country of Kenya. (Paula Anderton)