The weekend before I left for Tanzania, I was at The Shepherd and the Knucklehead,a virtually unknown pub in Haledon, NJ named after the even less known book authored by the pub owner. Moments before leaving what was a relatively mundane evening, I became engaged in a discussion about the significance of the locale’s name.
This weekend’s events, an overnight safari with the orange t-shirted students of the Kilimahewa School, gave a new perspective to that pointless debate.
Though these weren’t “knuckleheads” but a group of wide-eyed young people about to begin a two- day journey, they swarmed the bus with unaccustomed enthusiasm, and seemed to be oblivious to the three hour cramped ride that took them to the national park destination. The wonders, however, were not just in the Park. The traffic light, the airport with inbound planes, the Maasai market, and the supermarket pit stop each sent the 20 boys and girls into a teenage frenzy that had them hanging out the windows with their borrowed flip video cameras.
This excitement only escalated when the bus entered the national park and the amazed audience began to rock the bus, scrambling from one side to the other attempting to take in the zebras, giraffes, and elephants that roamed in packs whose numbers dwarfed the student group’s.
Yet, all the while, there were the shepherds – teachers, drivers, guides – who helped the students translate the names of the animals they saw from Kiswahili to English, who informed the students about the habits of the creatures they observed, and who eventually shepherded them to a ‘banquet’ of roast chicken, beef stew, rice, vegetables and an assortment of do-it-yourself hot beverages.
This coming together of the inexperienced and the “shepherds” was a defining moment, both for the closure of the pub conversation and the type of experience that EdPowerment is setting out to provide.
Author: Stephanie Brodeur