I had an amazing experience this summer interning with the Kenya Scholar Athlete Project. This summer was completely different from anything I have done before and I am extremely happy that I took a chance to try something new.
One of my primary goals for the summer was to improve my communication and language skills through my work as a teacher. I had no direct teaching experience before working with KenSAP so I had to learn on the job. Teaching students whose first language is not English made it particularly important to be clear during instruction. Many of the lessons I taught focused on grammar and writing which required me to improve my own understanding of the language. As a first language speaker it is easy to see a grammatical mistake and simply see that it is wrong and correct it. This is much more difficult to do when you have not had consistent access to English books. It was very important to explain the rules to the nuances of the language which was something that I have never really focused on. This experience undoubtedly improved my ability to communicate with others.
Living in a new place has augmented my interest in learning about cultures that are foreign to me. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this internship was getting to know my students extremely well over the summer. Outside of class we discussed cultural values and beliefs as we were particularly interested in each other’s lives. Having spent most of my life around people with fairly similar backgrounds it was great to hear about a culture that is entirely different from my own in some ways and extremely similar in others. Spending a summer abroad has increased my interest in travelling and potentially living somewhere new.
Teaching was much more enjoyable than I expected. Observing improvements from one assignment to the next was particularly gratifying. The students were very intelligent which made it easier for them to use the classes effectively. Seeing the improvement from the student’s essays at the beginning of the program to those at the end showed remarkable progress. From the first week to the last week the student’s improved their SAT scores by about 300 points on average. This data primarily shows how intelligent the student’s are, but it was also great personal feedback for me as a teacher.
This internship gave me a much more realistic outlook on the challenges that face an organization that seeks to improve social justice. I think I entered the summer with some reasonable expectations for the disparity between developed and emerging countries. This internship truly showed me how significant the difference is. The number of capable students who the program had to turn down showed me how many people never receive an opportunity. While I believe that KenSAP is an amazing program that provides an unbelievable chance for many deserving students, it was difficult to grasp how many people do not. This internship reinforced my conviction about supporting social justice because I developed an understanding of the number of capable people who just need a chance.
I think that entering this internship with an open mind and being patient allowed me to be successful in reaching my learning goals and enjoying the process. It was important to expect cultural differences to arise so they were not shocking when they actually occurred. I feel like I learned so much this summer and had an amazing time doing it.
-Alex Kramer ’13