June 2011

Science Education in the Largest in the World Refugee Camp

In five days my colleagues from the Faculty of Education at UBC and I will travel to the largest in the world refugee camp in North East Kenya – Daadab Refugee Camp. This refugee camp is 20 years old and it is a “temporary” home for almost 300,000 people. On a Canadian scale, this is a size of a large city (just 4 times smaller than Vancouver). I am very excited but also very nervous about this visit. My excitement comes from the hope that this trip will help me do something truly meaningful and beyond the ordinary. My nervousness comes from the realization that I am going to see something very difficult and unsettling and something that will be beyond of my control to fix or improve. I am used to think that if you want something very much, you can do it. I hope that I will still think like that after my trip to Kenya… Our goal is to help our colleagues at Moi University in Kenya to establish a Teacher Education Program at Daadab such as the kids at the Refugee Camp have a chance to get education and get out of the camp and have a future. We take it for granted here that our kids have lots of different opportunities – going to school, having food, shelter, their own rooms and computers… They also have freedom and opportunity to do lots of things. The future is bright open for many of them. I am not sure if it is like that in this refugee camp… I tried to read about Daadab and to watch some videos posted online, however, I am still not sure what to expect. However, my colleagues who traveled there earlier came back very inspired and very positive. I hope I will do too. My personal goal is to help local teachers to gain knowledge on physics teaching such as they can help their students to pass Kenyan matriculation exams and get inspired to study science. Luckily, if they graduate, the students have opportunities to study in many places, including UBC.  I have never taught physics in the conditions that we are going to encounter there, but I hope my passion for physics teaching and my past experience will help me figure it out. I am hoping to be able to learn as much as possible about the life in Daadab, so the course for physics teachers my colleagues and I will design will be a useful and an inspirational course… I am grateful for this opportunity and I will post my comments about what I learn there.

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