Friday 20th January

Firstly, apologies for running behind the students’s posts. There is so much to organise for this trip and the Community Exhibition is tomorrow (Friday 27th). I’ll catch up eventually but this is a really great but exhausting trip and I am not getting any younger 😉

We took a relaxed entry into the trip’s work. We were scheduled to meet with the VC of Rongo University – Samuel Gudu – at 10am, so we left Treat House around 9.45 to arrive on time. As we arrived we discovered that the VC had been called to Nairobi for a discussion with government ministers and officials and that a group had commandeered the media centre (booked for CM4K for the week) for PhD research presentations and that they were in full swing. Prof Jerry & I found somewhere else to hold a planning meeting and we gave the students the morning off to explore campus. They basked in the sun for a while and then found the huge tree on the periphery to wait, chat and probably doze in the shade.

Lunchtime was soon upon us and we had the first of what was to be an amazing meal, which catered for most diets – simple but oh so tasty. I have to observe here that I am always struck by the hospitality and generosity of spirit and practice of Rongo University when compared to the University of Brighton on the 4 occasions we’ve had return visitors from Rongo.

Don’t get me wrong the accommodation in the community is always great and those hosts do a wonderful job but on campus I have to print tickets with a value that the visitors aren’t able to exceed. It’s the ‘oh sorry you can’t have that that’ and ‘can you swap that out’ that is embarrassing and demeaning.  Our visitors never complain but I see these things and can’t help but compare. Similarly, we are always taken everywhere in Uni transport but here I either have to pay for transport out of my CM4K fundraising budget or out of my own pocket. Perhaps that this is about values and culture? Mind you the last time was several years ago and with new management things may change but with the cost of living crisis, who knows? It’s reasonable to note, I think that Rongo is a university in a marginalised rural environment in what is quaintly termed a lower-middle income economy and the financial situation there is worse than here but they do the small but important things well and so much better than Brighton.

After lunch we met our Kenyan students for the first time. Jerry addressed them and then I gave a brief lecture about the history of CM4K together with my personal vision of its future. We then sent the students of for ice-breaker games so that they could get to know each other. This is always an interesting and very important part of the project. Students start off quite nervously but within minutes they were laughing and hollering……..and I smiled because I knew all would be well in the team.

The final part of the day centred around group exercises. Normally, I mix groups but today I wanted each group to hear and think about the other’s worldviews. I sent them off to discuss what community means to them (Jerry had been concerned that community as a construct is often equated to tribe here in Kenya). As a second task I asked them to think about the roles and significance of community radio in their worldview of community. What emerged from this were 2 really inciteful and thought provoking presentations when back in plenary. The Kenyans’ presentation was certainly more emotive but the thoughts from the two groups were certainly not dissimilar, which was interesting. There followed a really interesting discussion as I tested and probed their arguments. To be honest, we’d have probably still been there if I hadn’t brought things to a close for dinner. However, it was an excellent start to the project. One that filled me with joy and hope. As an educator, I love that feeling when young people display their potential in this enthusiastic manner.

After an excellent dinner, we went back to the Treat House, freshened up then sat by the pool and chatted over a beer before I headed up to bed leaving them to play games and enjoy themselves.

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