Nairobi to Sydney – Joseph and Celine

Back in November we brought our 2 main Kenyan teachers, Joseph & Celine, out to Sydney for a whirlwind 2 week visit. Thanks to those who helped make this a success!

It was certainly an eye opener – for them, as expected – but very much for us as well. They (and we!) were busy every day – watching classes, team teaching, staff training… and lots more.

There was far too much going on to report properly, so here are a few highlights / reflections:

1.’Oh everything is so clean’ – this from Joseph, only minutes after arriving. Driving home through Sydney was a big shock – they couldn’t believe that Sydney-siders were well behaved and orderly without being forced to be. ‘Why are people all doing the right thing even though there are not police everywhere?’

2.’How many families live in this building’ – again, Joseph, on arrival at our (modest) 2 storey, 3 bedroom home. We explained & they understood but they did point out that it would be home to 10 families where they come from… Joseph had his very first shower that night – and slept on a proper mattress 😦

3.It was a revelation to them that our friends here are gardeners, builders, lawyers, engineers, teachers and artists. ‘Back at home’ there is a distinct hierarchy – almost ‘caste like’ – with a culture of non association below your pay grade. They couldn’t get their heads around it! ‘Back at home, anyone will do anything for just one small bit of power. If you can, you put down the other person so you feel more important.’ We knew this to a degree, but the full force of it was a bit of a shock in our conversations while they were here.

4.The D E N T I S T… Oh my goodness! First ever dental clean and check up thanks to our gorgeous Errol and the team at Geoffrey Thomas Dental in Manly. To summarise – Joseph’s teeth were filthy (the staff were taking photos!) but once cleaned up were actually in fantastic condition. Incredible as he’s never owned a toothbrush… says something for a very basic diet of maize flower and veggies, doesn’t it? Joseph kept saying ‘Oh my teeth are so many” as he felt them with his tongue. Celine, on the other hand, has grown up with enough money for sugar in her diet – which is used as a treat and a bribe at every turn. Her teeth were cleaner (toothbrush not a foreign idea) but the decay was extensive. She needs lots and lots of work. Lots of good conversation about cutting down on the sugar and fizzy drinks!

5.The idea of authority is very different here. They couldn’t believe that I (as the ‘lady boss’) would walk into a room and the behaviour of the people there would not change. The concept of doing what you are supposed to do when nobody is watching is very new. Apparently, ‘back at home’ people are lazy and if the boss walks into the room everything changes dramatically. Hmmm no wonder there are so many issues….

6.Swimming in the sea. OK this was hilarious. Joseph was sure he was going to drown (in ankle deep water) and swears he drank half the ocean. Not quite true. They did love it and Sydney turned on a beautiful day for a run to the beach.

7. Meet and Greet. We had a beautiful session at AMS Randwick one Sunday afternoon, after they’d been here for a week and had experienced ‘life’ and teaching here. It was incredible to hear them speak about their lives and what they had learned from being here. Incredible for us even thought we already knew! They taught us some Kenyan songs and games. Everyone loved it.

So now they’re back there and have just started classes for the new year! I’ll update again once things are underway. Thank you for reading!


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