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Journey to Daraja Academy

February 26, 2014

January 7-21, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya for a school counseling SOLES global trip.  During my program interview in the spring of 2012, I first heard Kenya was a possible destination, and I was determined to go.  From past students, I heard testimony of a life changing trip and fond memories of the girls of Daraja Academy.

Daraja Academy was founded by a former USD graduate, and is located in the small rural community of Nanyuki, Kenya.  It is a boarding school for girls, and gives them an opportunity to get a high school education that they otherwise could not afford.  Each girl is selected through an extensive application and interview process, and represents one of the 40 tribes located across Kenya.

The most amazing quality of each and every girl I met was her dedication to her education, which was seen through every interaction during our visit.  The lamplights in the residence hall would flicker on at 4 am to light the exam materials of the studious seniors.  The laundry and individual chores would be finished by the 7 am breakfast time, before an eight hour day of intense classwork.  The teachers in each class would speak with passion, constantly reminding the girls of their potential in this day.  When speaking about their school, the girls would discuss what their education meant to them, and all of the things they could do to help their home communities if they studied hard at Daraja.  With dreams of being photographers, pilots, business women, teachers, or leaders in the community, the girls were visibly eager for knowledge.

My personal experience at Daraja has shaped my goals as a school counselor.  It is unbelievably important to me to serve underrepresented communities, and do so with caring and compassion.  As an outsider knowing very little about the history of education in Kenya, I was amazed at the resiliency shown by the students of Daraja.  Many of them faced trauma and adversity that I could not imagine, yet they remained optimistic for their future.  I hope to support the students I work with to build resiliency, and help to promote a passion for learning like I saw at Daraja.

It is difficult to put this life changing experience into words, so I’ve created a video documenting 10 of the most memorable moments of my trip.  Traveling to Kenya through the school counseling program was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve ever had, and I would recommend taking advantage of any opportunities to travel and learn abroad!

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Click photo for YouTube video for a summary of my 10 most memorable moments of the school counseling international experience in Kenya at the Daraja Academy.

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