While SAT and TOEFL test preparation continues to be the focus of EaSEP, critical thinking is increasingly an important piece of the larger picture as students learn to identify problems in Kenya, then consider their role in possible solutions as they lay out their educational goals.
The Class of 2013-14 listened to and discussed podcasts of TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) to prepare for the TOEFL and engaged in local needs assessments through visits with roadside vendors, patients two-to-a bed in a maternity hospital and workers at a tea estate. Students held round table discussions of ways to meet described needs and outlined the common roadblocks which stymie progress in their country. Students also investigated local organizations which are successfully dealing with the region’s problems, such as the Gynocare Fistula Center in Eldoret, and the One Acre Fund which helps some 130,000 farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.
Students organized debates on current events and additional round table discussions, often based on excerpts from the Blair Reader, an anthology of essays on cultural topics by prominent authors, such as Barbara DeFoe Whithead’s “The Girls of Gen X.” The class also took advantage of the EaSEP library, reading such books as “Half the Sky” (Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn), “The Last Hunger Season” (Roger Thurow) “Cutting for Stone” (Abraham Verghese ) and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”.