By Pat Kelly
In our ongoing series, we present the responses to another question asked of the four traveling teachers who trekked with Mal Keenan to Zambia in the summer of 2012.
Q. Describe for us your favorite scene in Zambia.
Kalan Gott: The clatter of the cowbell alerts students to morning break. Instead of rushing out the door at the sound of the bell, the students hang around the room. A group of students see a book left over from the lesson and swiftly grab it up exploring each page and helping each other as they attack the words, breaking them down, creating meaning. All of this taking place on their own time.
Anastasia Gruper: Personally and professionally for me it was sitting in a room with four other amazing, intelligent women. The collaboration about new experiences and a new culture helped me learn. To have the opportunity to discuss and problem solve new challenges while teaching was invaluable. The four supports I was able to draw from daily will be a scene I will never forget, even if it was a scene I experienced by headlamp!
Mariann Zimmerman: My favorite scene (and it still brings tears to my eyes) is seeing Mal with her Shine graduate students. The impact she has made on those students’ lives, both academically and socially, is life changing. They truly look up to her, respect her, and admire her for what she has brought to their lives. I loved watching her in action as she spoke individually to each student, got in their precious faces and reminded them of their goals and to reach those goals they have to keep reading.
Ann Yanchura: Our work with a new school, Chishiko, almost didn’t happen because of our very full schedule of commitments to other schools. However, due to Mal’s willingness to help where she can, we now have a new partner in a school that is an experiment in building community commitment to education in Zambia. The young missionary couple who are responsible for this dream welcomed us with open arms and many thanks when we visited.
Picture a field in the hills of Chumba Valley that has now been transformed into a soccer field. When we arrived, the children in the area were allowing their cattle to graze on the grass of the field. They quickly began to herd the animals away as they saw us drive up, knowing that Pastor Steven wants to cultivate healthy grass for the games they will play there. The two room newly-built school house sits next to the field. Although this building currently hosts only the preparation class (preschool/kindergarten) and first grade, students up to age 12 show up daily for lessons. When it’s time for morning break, the preschool teacher washes 31 pairs of small hands with water from a plastic jug sink. Where else would you find dedication like this?