In order to graduate, each student had to stand up in front of their peers (a group of 43 students) and give a 3 minute presentation summarizing their learnings for the week. This included; What is my dream? What are a few steps that I can begin to take now toward that vision (vision = dream + actions path)? Who can help me along the way to support my vision? What can I do manage obstacles in my path? And how can I begin to pay it forward beginning tomorrow? Everyone was excited, and a bit nervous to share their new vision for themselves and have the support of all their new friends.
It was really exciting to see students who 5 days ago would not give you eye contact or speak higher than a whisper, now be able to project their voice across the room with animation, a smile and a sense of confidence. Several of the young people did not use notes and even moved around the room a bit to engage the others.
As the last presenter finished the formal presentations, many students wanted to take the floor to express what this week had meant to them. Their fear of speaking dissipated and the support in the room enabled them to reveal a few of their more vulnerable thoughts. Advise was given, thanks was given, and encouragement was given.
THE CEREMONY OF GRADUATING
We all went to the sports field and thanks to Shirley West in the USA ( known to the team in Africa as “Mama Shirley”) we had beautifully created certificates to hand each student. We had the Peer educators join us in the hand shaking line and we called each F3-F4 student up. They moved through the procession of hand shaking and congratulating process and then finished with Erna, Gathii, Prosper, and Charlie surrounding them for a photo with their certificate.
Such pride was viewed by all. Then came the photo taking. It felt much like a wedding. The F4-F6(Seniors) graduates from each countrywere in a group, the entire class by country were in groups, the entire class combined was in a group and then 400 various combinations that the students wanted with their new friends in a variety of poses were also captured.
In one week the students had taken over 3700 photos. That was pretty amazing given that these students did not know how to operate a camera or look through a view finder on Sunday.
After having fed the last of the students and put them on buses to different parts of kenya and tanzania, we cleaned the meeting room and sat down to read the evaluations. What an inspiring week it was, for the students and for us the facilitators. A+ for all.