A day well spent

Saturday the 19th of November 2016 is one of the days that I will never forget in my stay in Canada. It was the day that I had my first golfing experience in such a huge golf course and the day that I drove the first ‘vehicle'(kart) by myself. I was elated as I really wanted to see with my own eyes the professional golfer, Garry, undertake his training. When the day arrived, Carl and Garry did not hesitate to take Moses and I to the golf course.

Golfing

img_0615Garry and Carl took us to the golf course in Langley to try golfing for the first time ever in our lives. Moses and I had never gone golfing before and we really were looking forward to the event.I did not know that golfing was such a hard sport and not as easy as I had expected. It required a lot of skill which I didn’t have as this was my very first efirst experience to golf.

Our first trial in golfing proved to be harder than we expected. Moses and I just knocked off the ball some short distance away but after some time we got the hang of it and did really well for beginners. It was a really enjoyable day!

Kart racing

img_0636Kart racing is a game which involves ‘driving’ small race vehicles  along a specified track within an enclosed building. The kart has two pedals, a green and red pedal. The green pedal represents the gas pedal while the red pedal represents the brakes. Every driver participating in the kart race has to watch the safety video as a way of informing them of the rules of the game and the safety precautions in relation to the game. I was thrilled the first time when I drove the first vehicle ever in my entire life unaccompanied. I was really afraid when I put a lot of gas on the pedal and nearly hit a wall! The entire game was really interesting and also a new experience to me.

I would like to entirely thank the Schaffers as well as The McKenzies for really enabling us to try new things and games that we have never done before. Thanks a million!!

Sushi for lunch.

Sushi is a type of Japanese fast food found in local restaurants and consists of rice and vegetables wrapped in seaweed and sometimes raw pieces of fish such as salmon. It is very popular in Canada. My homestay family decided that everybody at home would make their own Sushi. I tried my best to make my Sushi as presentable as possible. The results were however, not as good as I had expected but I was able to make and eat Sushi that I had made myself. This was really a nice and new experience for me that will remain embedded in my mind for a long time!img_5727

A day at Saint Michaels Indian Secondary School

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Saint Michaels Indian Secondary School was a residential school in Canada. According to Wikipedia, the term residential schools refers to “an extensive school system set up by the Canadian government and administered by churches that had the nominal objective of educating aboriginal children.”

In Canada, residential schools were started for aboriginal children who were to be taken away from their families. The policy involved removing children from their families and taking   them to residential schools and forbidding them to speak their own language as well as keeping them away from their own traditional and cultural practices.

Residential schools did a lot of harm to indigenous children by denying them most of their rights and exposing them to physical and sexual abuse. The children had two dormitories, one for the boys and one for the girls all at separate places in the school compound. The children slept in the dormitories which consisted of beds arranged in rows. The disadvantage of this is that students with contagious diseases could easily pass them on to each other. A few bathrooms were normally located on one end of the dormitory and were usually fully occupied most of the time making it hard for the young children to access the bathrooms.

The session in St.Michaels Indian secondary school began by sitting all of us around a circle and being spoken to by an elder, telling us of his experiences and his views regarding residential schools. He spoke about how his own family members, particularly his aunt passed through hard times while she was in The residential school.

Most residential boarding schools that operated in Canada consisted of a cafeteria where students had to queue for food, a dormitory, field, classroom and the administration block. Students in boarding schools were not allowed to speak their own language in the school’s premises. The pupils in residential schools had to queue for food and the line was often too long. Above all, the children were forced to go to church regardless of their different religions and age where they were expected to chant the Hail Mary, and say prayers while kneeling in front of the altar.

Similarity of Indian Residential Schools to current boarding schools in Kenya

Students in boarding schools in Kenya live in the school during the part of the year that they go to lessons. The school curriculum in Kenya has three terms in an year. Holidays are usually after one term(consisting of three months) usually in the months of April, August and December as well as part of November. Some boarding schools also have day students who attend the institutions by day and return to their families in the evenings.

Many private schools are boarding schools. Boarding school pupils normally return home during the school holidays and often weekends, but in some cultures may spend most of their childhood and adolescent life away from their families.

Advantages and disadvantages of boarding schools  

To begin with, they are an important tool that creates stronger friendships amongst students which last a lifetime. Children are kept at arms length from the parties, drinking and drugs which are often too common by day school students. Boarding school students in Kenya also do supervised  homework by teachers. Children benefit from the  non-classroom contact with teachers and other extracurricular activities such as sports, drama and music. Lastly, there is less use of technology and students are often more social and tend to be more independent and confident.

However, despite all the above advantages, students miss out on home life and can become homesick. Although most boarding school pupils have great relationships with their families, homesickness can easily lead to children becoming frustrated and should not be underestimated.

3 November, 2016 will always remain embedded in my mind as one of the most educative days in my entire life because it changed my own perception of boarding schools. Thanks to the organizers of the trip and the Mrs. Carnrite, the BC First Nations teacher for letting us know the bitter truth of Canada’s history because it is hard to predict your future when you don’t know your past.

The last residential school in Canada was closed in 1996 with residential schools having existed for a period of about 111 years. It is however, very encouraging to see that churches and institutions that acted as residential schools are now sending a message of peace, truth and reconciliation as well as their apologies for what happened in residential schools to the aboriginal people who are still alive or may have passed away. Langley Fine Arts school recently came up with a student program where students in BC First Nations class in grades 11 and 12 speak to the lower grades about truth and reconciliation in regard to the events that occurred in residential schools. Teaching truth and reconciliation is the best way to approach the events that happened in residential schools and should be embraced.

My homestay family

After spending a few days in Alison’s  place, the day came for the  four of us to separate. It was both a happy and sad moment as we all departed to our different homes.

Denis and Allan were driven by Alison Stuart while Moses and I were driven by Silvia Knittel to Aldergrove. Moses was dropped off first while we proceeded to my homestay family.

My homestay family consists of four family members that is, Shannon and Garry Schaffer who are my homestay parents as well as  their two daughters, Emily and Amanda and the beautiful dog, Miley. It was such an exciting experience to meet such a nice and welcoming family. It was also very comforting to me when I realised that I had a family member who was about my age, Emily. She is such an interesting person to stay with bearing in mind that we share the same interest, photography. I feel very honored to have such great people as members of my homestay family.

Amanda is the second born in the family. She is a quiet but interesting person to relate with. She is in grade nine at Langley Fine Arts School.

Shannon and Garry are so kind to me such that I can’t thank them enough. They are and will always be my inspiration in time of need.img_2815

We have two pets, a dog and a cat.  Miley is a very beautiful dog who loves chewing all the time  and has a tail that never stops wagging. Princess, the cat, spends her time in the garage and is thirteen years old and has an exceptionally beautiful fur coat.IMG_1497.JPG

A million thanks goes to my homestay family members for accepting me as one of them and receiving me with open arms. Here are just a few of the activities we have conducted with my homestay family.

Bowling

Bowling is a game played by two different teams, in our case, consisting of five members in each group. One opponent from either side of the teams uses a ball which is rolled across a room to hit a specified number of pins at the other end of the room. Marks are awarded according to the number of pins hit by the ball. We went bowling together with the Schmidt’s where we played against the parents from both families. The parents won the game but being my first experience, I really enjoyed playing the game.

Bike riding

Garry and I went to the dyke for bike riding. I have never felt so cold in my life. My hands were frozen and my feet were numb. Despite the chilly  weather, I really enjoyed myself.

In addition to the above activities, my family has also taken me to a craft fair which is organized by community women who bring their wares for sale in the fair. We also went to the hockey game between the giants and the Canucks as well visiting the dog training Institute.

My gratitude goes to my homestay family for all they have done for me. I appreciate everything including the love and respect accorded to me by the Schaffers and all the physical resources the family has and is spending on me.

Halloween Day

 

What is Halloween 

Halloween is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the western Christian feast of All Hallows’ day. It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from Celtic harvest festivals which may have pagan roots but it has been Christianised and has lost meaning over time and converted into a merrymaking ceremony with lots of candy and a good time for children to enjoy.

Halloween activities 

Halloween activities include trick-or-treating ( or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films.

My homestay family organized and we watched The Wizard of Oz, a  very popular movie. On the next day, we went to the Schmidt’s home where we curved pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns and watched fireworks from a neighboring friend of the Schmidt’s. The sight was so spectacular as the fireworks lit the whole evening sky.

Halloween costumes 

Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons witches and devils. Today’s costumes are modeled after movies or famous people who lived some days ago, heroes and heroines of their time, characters from famous novels and the like.

Pumpkin Carving 

A jack-o’-lantern is a carved pumpkin or turnip lantern, associated with the holiday of Halloween and named after the phenomenon of a strange light flickering over peat bogs. The top of the pumpkin or turnip is cut off to form a lid, the inside flesh is scooped out, and an image usually a monstrous or comical face is carved out of the rind to expose the hollow interior. To create the lantern effect, a light source is placed within before the lid is closed. The light source is traditionally a flame such as a candle or tea light. It is common to see the lanterns on doorsteps and otherwise used as decorations prior to and on Halloween.

On the Halloween night, children are taken by their parents from house to house across the streets where they have to say trick or treat in order to receive candy from the different homes.

On Halloween night, however, myself and a group of older students opted to go across the streets asking for canned foods to donate to our local food bank which would be issued to the needy, the sick and the poor.

Halloween, in general, is a merrymaking celebration contrary to many people’s beliefs about evil ceremonies and rituals performed on Halloween which is not really true. It is in fact one of the many ceremonies that I have enjoyed so far in my stay in Canada.

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My Journey to Canada

My journey started on the 26 of October at around 15:40hours. I departed from school after completing my exams and headed for home in preparation for the journey. On the following day, I woke up early and readily prepared for the journey. I was escorted by my mother to town where I would meet with my other friends. After a series of partings, we bid our families and friends goodbye and looked forward to an eventful journey.

The journey was very eventful punctuated by occasional magnificent views inclusive of beautiful landscapes, inviting streams, to mention but a few. However, we witnessed an accident, though not fatal. A motorcycle had crashed into a sports car though the occupants of the car were not badly hurt. I particularly loved the instant response by the traffic police.

We arrived at the town of Thika some time in the afternoon and took a break for lunch which was a good treat. We boarded the vehicle again for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport located in the outskirts of Nairobi. We arrived after a short drive but spent a couple of minutes looking for a parking space which we found after circling around the airport.we were four of us, all ButterflyEffect students Denis Chege, Allan Waithira, Moses Waruingi and myself, Stephen Muchiri.

The journey to Vancouver, Canada begins

After a series of partings with Denis’ parents and relatives, we were led by Ian Mungai, our PA-MOJA coordinator to the Immigration Department and checked in. Our flight, however, did not take place at the expected time and was delayed for about 3 hours.

Having been checked in and settled in the plane, our journey began. We were all elated and at the same time awed by the spectacular airport and the beautiful interior of the plane. Our first flight to London was awesome. We really enjoyed watching the mountains stretching far below and the ‘blue’ surface of the Mediterranean Sea.

Arrival at Heathrow International Airport, London

We arrived in London, Heathrow airport, at around 9:40pm. What an airport! It was so huge. It stretched as far as our eyes could see. After alighting from the plane and making a few inquiries, we deciphered that our next flight to Vancouver was due at 2:10pm. We checked in and headed to the departures lounge where we took some snacks as we eagerly waited for our next flight to Vancouver.

After undergoing the usual formalities in the airport, we boarded the Air Canada (Boeing 777-300ER) and looked forward to an enjoyable flight. The take off was particularly rough and bumpy which I believe was the most demanding part of our journey as we had to endure the unusual funny feeling and the uncompromising urge to vomit. We made it though and we were very happy for making it through all this considering it was our first experience in a plane.

Arrival at Vancouver International Airport

The landing was really scary. Intense fear that gripped me was like that of a carpenter’s clamp which sent asphyxiating shudders down my spinal column whenever I pondered over the predicament of a crash. It was really thrilling! We finally arrived in Vancouver International Airport tired to the bone but extremely happy. This flight is something that will always remain embedded in my mind and I will always think kindly of the organizers of the PA-MOJA community, its donors and friends.

I must admit that I am completely awed by happenings outside my home locality. I recognize the efforts of all those who participated in this great achievement. My physical witnessing of all these will act as a stepping stone for development in my home country in the near future with myself being among those initiating development. I look forward to an exciting and enjoyable stay in Canada. Thank you for believing in me to represent my school and my country as a whole. Thanks to ButterflyEffect. I promise you that I am not going to let you down.

Vote of thanks

I cannot say that the journey was completely successful without appreciating the efforts of all those who have made it a success. First, I would like to sincerely thank my parents for granting me permission to visit Canada during my December holiday. Secondly, the great effort of Ian Mungai, the PA-MOJA coordinator in Kenya, from the beginning of this year to this time for his superb work ranging from soliciting passports, accompanying us to Nairobi and offering a great deal of advice are invaluable and worth appreciation. Lastly, the able PA-MOJA community and all its donors.  Finally, I would like to sincerely thank the Langley School District and the Langley Fine arts School in Canada for hosting me as a guest in the school and all the support they have given me. Thanks a million!

To any other person whom I might have forgotten to appreciate, your efforts have not gone unnoticed.I sincerely thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me make my first step towards achieving my destiny. I will never forget you for your invaluable support.