Local Time in Korr, Kenya

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Voice of the Voiceless: Tirrim Secondary School's Weekly Newsletter

A new club has been formed at T.S.S. - Journalism Club! Bringing you school and world news every week from the mouths of the students!

Here's an excerpt from this week's addiction. Enjoy and be enlightened. (Cultural Note: An "office" is a bathroom.)

The School Insider Column
It has come to our realisation that the busiest office in the school has been faced with a lot of inconveniences. The boys’ office, which is 10 metres from the assembly lines, has been in a mess for a period of time.

It has been a problem for almost 85 students to scramble for only two holes. This queuing consumes times and causes congestion in the office which tends to raise the amount of smell. Usually when the students enter the office, they remove their clothes and enter half naked in order for them to escape the stench getting on their clothes. This congestion is clearly proved by girl students complaining about boys using the wrong office.

On the volleyball pitch the players have also been affected by the smell because the nearest toilet is so smelly. They condemn the boys for having the highest concentration of smell. The reason is not that the girls’ toilet is refreshing and has no smell but that compared to the boys’ office , it is not encumbered with a large load.

Some students suggest more offices for the school.

A History of My Life According to Alarm Clocks


The movie "Bug's Life" captured my sister's and my imagination, and so for years when were young we had an alarm clock shaped like the character "Heimlich" who would wake you up by repeatedly saying, "Yah YAh YAH!!! Eet eez time to get ahp!" (He was inexplicably a German caterpillar.)

High School

Who didn't have an awesome little silver boom box that would turn itself on to Z95.7?


My phone was constantly set to 5am at which point it would buzz at me, or, on bad mornings, one of the crew girls would call and tell me to get out to the vans.


My first year in Korr, my watch would beep. And now, in 2011, Abba Obeyle has taken it upon himself to wake me up at 6 every morning - including Sundays. As night watchman at the Swanepoel's home, he's in charge of everything from washing up dinner dishes to killing rabid dogs that get into the compound. Now, his duties have expanded to include getting me out of bed by standing at the corner of my house and saying, "Waakh Keene. Waakh Keene. Nebeyon baritee. A sahaad toomon ichow lama." ("Waakh Keene. Waakh Keene. Good morning. It's 6.") I still haven't figured out if this is based on a true desire to see me stick to my schedule, or to get his morning coffee, which I make.

(Abba Obeyle and his lovely wife. I'm the one in the middle.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

That's What They Said

And it begins - more gems from English class assignments. All original grammar and spelling remains intact.
"That day I woke up at the crack of dawn before the sun's radience lacerated through atmosphere like demon eyes."
From Abubakar's "My Christmas Holiday" writing assignment.

"Madame Alicia's ear is bigger compared to Dawa's ear."
From Meshack Gayere's spelling word sentences.

Of Jumbo Jets and Atlantic Crossings

I didn't want to be that crazy girl that gets arrested for wandering out of steerage and into first class, but I REALLY wanted to see the upstairs of the 747 I took from Texas (woop!) to London. I'd never been on a double-decker before, and I found it all quite novel, so in London I waited to be one of the last out, and asked the nice looking steward man (in my sweetest Californian accent) if he wouldn't mind showing me the upstairs cabin. For those who have only ever sat below it, the top deck of a 747 is quite glamorous with reclining sleeping pods and plenty of aisle room. I was readily invited into the cockpit by the captain, and I got two impressions: 1) It's really complicated to fly a 747, and 2)The people upstairs are usually too snooty to show an interest in the magnificence of this machine. (Despite my show of keen interest, I was not invited to fly free with British Ariways on my next trans-atlantic journey.)

Back to School!

Back in Korr, after a wonderfully refreshing month at home, I’ve made a running landing in the desert sands. When I arrived, school had already begun for our Form Two and Three students, so I quickly came to rescue my fellow missionary teacher, Mrs. Laura Propst, from the heavy load of my Form Two English class. Bless her heart, she had already gotten them through phrasal quantifiers, and now we’re working our merry way through the grammar curriculum and trying to improve writing skills.

(Form Twos working on their "Symbolism" projects)

(Some basketball with the new hoop!)

The new Form One students arrived the day after I did, and I have never, well, in my previous one year at T.S.S., seen such little babies coming into a secondary school. David Marro is smaller than I was at the age of 6 and Ilterrewa has got a personality that is easily 3 times his physical size. They’re quite a lively bunch, these Form Ones, and so excited about their education which is, of course, the most exciting part for a teacher too. They struggle in their English comprehension and there were several occasions in the first week where I merely asked a person to tell me their name, and all I got was a blank stare, an open mouth, and perhaps a whispered, “Yes.” However, we’re making progress, judging by their giggled imitations of my evidently prevalent, “That’s crazy” comments. Heh, I’ll be the butt of the joke if it means their success.

I’ll tell you which joke I’m not so excited about though – returning to my Form One Geography teacher position. There was a teacher hired for this position from down-country, but this is no longer Kenya by “civilized” standards, and she quickly wilted in the climate and culture. She literally ran away from it all, including her students, and hasn’t been seen since, which I find terribly ironic considering her name is “Charity.” The Lord knows I hate teaching it, but for some reason I’m back in Geography so I’ll try to get myself and my kids more excited by bringing in a cool slide-show of Hubble Telescope photos.

I’m also reprising my role as ladies’ sports coach/mentor, and this is something I’m enjoying very much. I’m not playing with them as much now that there are enough girls to field a full volleyball and soccer team, but I try to make it out to the field everyday to give helpful tips/demand that they bend their knees on the volleyball court.

Besides my original Form Two and Form Threes, I’ve got 5 new girlies in Form One: Celina, who is the spitting image of her sister in Form Three, A’deyo who is easily the chattiest girl at our school, Justina who is easily the quietest, Susan who has got some spunk that will kind of sneak up on you, and finally Faith who is the Michael Jordan to TSS sports.

(Fatuma, one of the original girls, and the new Susan on the right.)
I already love them very much and am soooo looking forward to getting to know them more, hear about their dreams (which they’ve already confused with nocturnal brain waves), encourage them, and hopefully schedule a mentoring/Bible study time with them. If there’s ever been a group I’ve felt strongly led to, it’s all the girls at TSS – what gems.

There are some uncomfortable changes I’m having to make here as well, though. I miss the original Korr girls and our “Kuku” house on the hill with its popcorn dinners and daily episodes of “Glee” or “Emma.” I miss my best friends, but have peace we’re all where we should be right now. I’m trying to get settled into to my little “marti” (“visitor”) room down at the Swanepoel’s house with all its resident vermin. I’m trying to become acclimated to the heat again, but I have mostly figured this part out in my choice of Suave deodorant over Old Spice which smells too much like a high school boys’ locker room. This acclimatizing, however, is softened by the ready love of the Rendille and a knowledge that this is where I should be.

I’m quite happy to be back.

(I just thought that this was an awesome picture. Notice how there are three boys colliding and yet the ball isn't near any of them. Also notice the spiffy new sports uniforms.)