I suppose that most teachers wonder about the degree to which the things they are teaching have significance or relevance for the students in class. In a previous blog statement, I expressed some concern about whether language differences were limiting my effectiveness. Then Friday came along.
Two students in class were ministers. One came in Friday reporting that he and his wife had made a visit the night before to a young couple who had lost an infant just two days before. There are few kinds of sessions which are more difficult—there is no answer to, “Why?” And why nearly always is heard. The student said that all our discussions about death, dying, the kinds of things to say and the kinds of things to not say had been on his mind as they went to the home. He had shared some of those thoughts with his wife before they made the visit and the two of them talked more about how to respond as they left.
Describing his experience with the grieving couple stimulated discussion among the other students about situations they had been in during the week or situations they anticipated being in very soon. It brought a smile to my face. We had spent a significant block of time talking about “what not to say” in various situations. I had wondered if I had been too heavy on that, knowing that counseling students often get so focused on what to say and not say that they get all tied up in doing the “right” thing and miss doing the natural thing. I think that the maturity of these students let them integrate what we had talked about in class so that it became a part of their natural responses.
I left the class on Friday with a smile. I’ll be in communication with the students during the trimester and will see them again in December.
In other matters, I must say that the elephant picture posted on the last blog entry was not a political statement. Joan and I did spend the weekend with good friends who are working at Maua with AIDS families, hospital patients, schools, water projects, and other dire situations. In a future blog I must describe one program which puts AIDS orphans who have become head of household into groups for training in business skills so that they can support younger siblings in a way that lets them stay in school. Wow! Can you imagine being a head of household when you were 12 or 14? Another program works to provide a “coming-of-age” program for girls to replace female circumcision (the term they use most commonly here). Our friend, Sue, was wearing a T-shirt with a Swahili phrase on the back which said, “Make Me a Woman with Words.”
It was awesome to see what the needs are and how these two people (and many others) are responding. Then we spent a day driving through the country taking photos of elephants, rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, and more birds than I could count (although Jim, a birder, could name them all and would say, “that one is very rare” from time to time). We lunched at the spot famous in the movie “Born Free” but we did not see lions. That’s for another time.
Tutaonana for now, Brooke Collison
Brooke Collison is professor emeritus of counselor education and a former president of the American Counseling Association. He will be a visiting professor at Kenya Methodist University in Meru, Kenya during the September trimester. Joan Collison will be a volunteer with children in a social service agency during their four-month stay in Kenya.