Why Internship in Kenya? 


Place:Kenya, Nairobi

Internship Organization:Grapesyard Organization

1. Why did I choose Kenya?

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX — Recently, countries such as China and Korea are getting stronger in either economy or social position. In contrast, Japan, one of the most powerful countries in the world, seems likely to be going backward because of problems such as aging problem, gender inequality and others. One of the way to save Japan’s future is to bring up young generation who are intelligent, talented, and capable in fix themselves in this global society. Cross-Boundary Innovation Program (CBI), established by Osaka University and sponsored by Japan government, is a program that attempts to produce next generation Ph.D graduates who are able to think “outside the box”. In this aspect, Kenya would be a perfect place to explore due to its contrasting issues such as poverty, environmental issue, security issues and other. Personally, I love experiencing new cultures, trying new foods, and making new friends! Kenya would be an amazing place to explore because of its 43 tribes (multi-culture, multi-languages) and the incredible nature that the country has. So I made up my mind to go for an intensive “two-week safari”. And it turned out to be the most wonderful solo trip that I have ever taken in my life.


2. What is the main purpose of my trip?

NON-STOP-EXPERIENCING! — Experience by using all my senses, remember by using not only my brain but also my body. Smell the dusty air, taste the sour milk, touch the shinny dark skin, listen to the stranger’s story and watch the traditional dances. Try to adsorb and remember every single information/memory that comes to me—that was my personal purpose of this trip. Officially, my purpose of this trip would be to complete a short-term internship in Grapesyard Organization.

Grapesyard Organization, a community project founded in 1999, has turned 16 years in 2015. It started with a school (Grapesyard School) in Korogocho slums with 150 students and has expended to over 1000 students in 2015. The main focus of Grapesyard School is to provide primary and secondary education, lunch, psychological support and protection to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). OVC stands for children who are the lack of protection, education, nutrition, and personal growth. Today, Grapesyard organization operates not only the school in Korogocho slums but also some other crucial projects in Kenya, such as Child Sponsorship Program, Volunteering Program, Child Care Program and so forth.

Volunteering in Grapesyard Organization is an open invitation to rediscover my unearth talents and abilities as the works that I will be involved in this two weeks are those I had never tried before. Also, it will be a great opportunity for me to get to explore my own culture background while interacting with the local stuffs and children from Kenya. In addition, as an intern Grapesyard Organization, I believe there will be a great increase in specific knowledge and develop valuable skills in term of fundraising, managing, teaching and communication. Moreover, I believe by engaging myself in Grapes will build my leadership skill. As we know that in a volunteer organization, more subtle skills are needed to accomplish things. An effective volunteer leader must have a clear and reasoned thinking, to be able to generate good ideas, speaking articulately, as well as exhibiting enthusiasm and a sincere interest in other people. These skills definitely enhance a leader in a work environment as well. As we know, the ultimate goal of CBI Program is to produce an all-round leader in Japan. Those skills and abilities that I would be learning in Grapesyard Organization match CBI Program’s requirement very well.

3. What did I do during my stay in Nairobi?

NON-STOP-TRYING! — During my stay with Grapesyard Organization, I had learned many meaningful and valuable lessons. Those life-changing experiences will not disappear in my mind. My main works in Grapesyard Organization can be divided into two parts: teaching English in the classroom and making Child’s Profile for the Child’s Sponsorship Program.

Before I started to teach, I observed how the teachers teach in Korogocho slums (Grapesyard School) during the second week of my intern. I watched Science and English class in class six (twelve or thirteen years old in general). Interestingly, the classes are not divided by ages but the time you enter the school. So you might find fourteen years old student and ten years old student in the same class. This phenomenon is mainly caused by poverty. Parents who have no money to send their children to school created this distinction. In this school, there are fifteen classes: class one to seven, each class is divided into green and blue, and class eight. There are five main subjects that are taught in the school. There are English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Christianity. From class one to three, only one teacher teaches all subjects; start from class four, each subject is taught by different teachers. Most of the students are facing a big problem during the class: NO TEXTBOOK. There are only a small amount of students who have textbooks for all subjects. Students have to share a textbook, they have to copy the textbook into their exercise books. Their exercise books are old and broken, though the handwriting on the papers are beautiful and tidy. As if there was hidden gold inside the trashes.

There are twenty teachers and thousand two hundred students in this school, which means each teacher in charge of sixty students in general. The classroom is small and there’s no electricity in this area, students have to squeeze together and share the sunlight and textbook during the class. I was impressed by how the teachers handled the students during the class. Teachers are very good in leading the students. They would repeat what they say, ask questions, give examples, and double confirm the statement by asking “sawa-sawa?”, then the students would answer “yes!” confidently. If a student answered the question correctly, teacher will say, “give him/her a big clap”; and students are encouraged to keep trying if they were wrong. When I saw how hard those teachers were trying to guild the students, I was touched and motivated. “The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you might have” ― this is why I want to teach.

During the writing class, I created a topic for students in class six to write. The topic is “if I were a millionaire”. Firstly, I explained the structure of a composition to the students. Secondly, I showed some examples to them by reading out load the composition written by students from other different countries. Then, I wrote down some key words on the board to ensure that everyone understands and clear about the topic. After that I gave them thirty minutes to complete the composition. When I was collecting the paper, I taught them how to write their names in Chinese in order to explore their curiosity toward the outside world. After collecting all the papers, I read through all the compositions and selected the best one in the class. I was very impressed by the students in Grapesyard School. They are very talented and would definitely have a bright future if they can have proper education like the other children in developed countries.

Besides teaching in the classroom, I also engaged in making child’s profile in order to find sponsors for those talented children. Within one week I interviewed eleven students who came from different backgrounds. Here is the outlook of the child’s profile. Page one includes the child’s general information, family background, personal interests and hand written message to the sponsor (some performed singing and it has been recorded). Page two represents the living environment of the child. Pictures are taken of the child and parent’s permission during the home visit. Pages three shows the child’s academic performance in school. Due to the privacy issue, child profiles are only accessible for those who are interested in becoming a sponsor of them.


4. What did I learn through this trip?

TOO MANY! ― The past two weeks of my internship have been very instructive for me. Grapesyard Organization has offered me opportunities to learn and develop myself in many areas. I gained a lot of experience, especially in the teaching field. A lot of the tasks and activities that I have worked on during my internship are not familiar with what I’m studying at the moment. This gave me the chance to find out my hidden potential and my ability of adaption. The area that I found most interesting is teaching English in Korogocho slums. Due to the background of those students, I had to think carefully about finding the best topic for them to write so that I would not hurt their sensitive mind. For instance, if I picked “my family” as the topic, for those who had lost parents would have a hard time to write. Therefore, picking a topic where everyone would not get offended is very important. I learned many things about teaching and also Kenyan culture by communicating to Grapes’s students during the class.

As a bonus, I got to experience the daily work in taking care of the children in Child Care Centre (Alice village). I learned how the foods are cooked and how the lunch is supplied. I also realized how difficult the cooking process was by watching the cooking lady demonstrated the whole process and tried it by myself after that.

By interning at Grapesyard Organization. I became stronger in both English and Japanese oral and written communication. I have achieved this by writing blog articles and communicating through the social media tools, writing the child’s profile and my internship report in English and Japanese. I have improved my English oral skills by communicating with the all the people that I have worked with, but I still need to practice more speaking English. To become an English teacher, I would have to take more English courses to improve my English oral as well as in my writing.

I got insight into the work of an NPO. I got insight into professional practice. I learned the different facets of working within an NPO. I experienced that financing, as in many organizations, is an important factor for the progress of projects. To succeed in running an NPO, the sharing of knowledge, ideas, and opinions between co-workers is of importance. There is still a lot to discover and research can be improved.

The internship has given me an opportunity to get immersed on a deeper level in another culture. It was really experiencing to see how other people live. It also helped to look at things from a different perspective. Beside language, I did not experience difficulties caused by different cultural backgrounds. An interesting and open attitude of the people has helped. An internship abroad was also a good way for me to see whether I could work outside my home country. I hardly experienced problems and I got really fast used to the different way of living. Also, the fieldwork came easy to me and I felt a full member of the project teams.

In conclusion, the internship was a useful experience. I have found out what my strengths and weaknesses are. I gained new knowledge and skills and met many new people. It also has given me new insights and motivation to pursue a career in NPO and teaching. This internship was definitely beneficial for me as I achieved many of my learning goals and I am grateful and thankful that I got to experience and learn many things.

5. What is my future plan?

BECOME A CONNECTER ― Now, I see the world differently. I saw the dark part of the world. I saw the tears of desperate people. I saw hungry babies on the street. I saw what a struggle life can be and how strong a spirit can be in order to survive. I want to do something for those people. And I want to provide hopes and knowledge. And I want to spread their life stories to encourage people who are living on this side of the world. I wish I could connect both side of the world so that we can become one in the world. My future plan is to teach around the world, mainly in developing countries such as Africa, South East Asia, India, South America and so on. I want to spend my life and energy for the children around the world as they give me the purest smile and I give them knowledge and hope. So, my long-term internship would be teaching in a several countries for a year, each country for two or three months. For instance, I would teach three months in Peru and then move to Brazil for three months, followed by three months in Colombia and then teach in Costa Rica for three months. During my internship I will also focus on my research about sexuality in each country. After my internship, I would like to publish my research and my personal experience for an appropriate association.


This article has been published on Cross-Boundary Innovation Program


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