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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Day in the Life: Flat Stanley Visits RVA

World-renowned international traveler, Flat Stanley, has one more stop to check off his list.  Earlier this year, he visited Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya.  His gracious hosts, the Schmidt family, gave him the grand tour of the school for missionary children that was founded in 1906.  In his own words, here are a few of the highlights of his trip.

“Hi everybody!  First of all, I’d like to give a shout-out to the one who made this all possible, Sam Mateer.  Without him, I never would’ve had the chance to visit Kenya.  Even though the journey was long, USPS flat-rate postage (no pun intended) did the trick and I arrived safely in the Schmidt’s mailbox in about two weeks’ time. 

The school day here isn’t too different than some of the schools I’ve been to in the States, but there are a few key differences.  I arrived in the middle of what they call ‘Term 2’.  The academic calendar is split into three terms, each about three months long. 

Here I’m sitting in on AP Calculus.  The students seem engaged and, for the most part, interested.  Weird.

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This group of sixth graders was intent on their reading assignment during English class.  Back in Pennsylvania where the Mateer family lives, there are very few opportunities for outdoor reading in the beginning of March!

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I like Edward – he’s the Swahili tutor on the right.  I didn’t learn too much of the language, but he did give me a piece of candy!  At least I knew enough to say, “Asante sana!”

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Chai break is a pretty big deal here.  After 3rd period, the whole school stops for 15 minutes to have a hot cup of chai – basically black tea with milk and sugar.  A few of the guys that work in the cafeteria let me join them. 

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Here I am in the “chai tree” – a lot of the students leave their mugs hanging here in the outdoor courtyard.  Not very sanitary, in my opinion, but then again I’m just a piece of cardstock. 

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The library is a pretty cool place.  Lots of good books – a few in particular caught my eye…

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I even got a little homesick!

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But mostly, I just tried to figure out why there were so many stuffed animals.  No, not the cuddly, sleep-in-your-bed kind – stuffed, as in they used to be alive! 

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I thought I read something about hunting being illegal in Kenya.  I guess when you’ve been around for over 100 years as a school, your exploits pre-date some of the current laws!

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The best part of my day was definitely hanging out with students.  There are lots of amazing kids here.  Above, I’m chilling with the first graders.  Then, after lunch, I found a random Algebra 1 class being held under a tree!

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Gotta love Freshmen!

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I am, in fact, in the picture below.  I’m just taking after my buddy Waldo – where’s Flat Stanley?

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Everybody wants a picture taken with Flat Stanley!  The most common reaction from the high school students was, “Flat Stanley?!  I remember him!”

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I was able to get a quick shot with these lovely ladies just before their semi-final football (some of you readers might call it ‘soccer’) match.  Turns out they won and went on to win the championship a few days later!  Go Buffaloes!

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This is part of the ‘psyche squad’ that cheered the Lady Buffaloes on to victory.  There are no official cheerleaders at this school, but I assure you, everybody in the stands gets involved!DSC_0037

And who can pass up a picture with a metallic giraffe?

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This after-school tradition was another highlight.  Tennis-baseball!  As you might have guessed, it’s basically baseball with a tennis racquet.  This match-up featured Kindergarten through 2nd graders competing for the most runs and the biggest hits.  DSC_0044

Rift Valley Academy certainly was a unique place to visit.  I originally hoped to see a bit of the Kenyan landscape and culture, but it turned out there was plenty to see here, right on campus!  Students and families from all over the world live and learn here together everyday.  Taking a page out of one of Dr. Seuss’s most well-known works, these kids grow up seeing and experiencing lots of different things.  My recommendation is coming from a guy who travels around the world quite a bit – RVA is definitely one of the coolest places you can go!

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Sincerely,
Flat Stanley

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