“Mimi Mimi!” Salma shouted as she help up her hands and tries to grab the chalk.
In Swahili that means, “me, me.” Salma was excited to go to the board and practice writing English. English is one of the subjects Cadet Andrew Biermann, a Citadel Cadet, and I, a Bowling Green State University Cadet, helped teach at the Young Artist Center.
Every morning around forty children came to the Young Artist Center to learn English, Swahili, drawing and dancing. The first part of the morning we taught basic English words, the alphabet and numbers. After that, we read them stories. The students loved story time and they climbed all over each other in order to get a good view of the pictures.
When the morning lessons were over, the children were served porridge. Biermann and I drank the porridge every day. At first, we eye each other anxiously when we were given a glass but as the weeks went on we clanked glasses with the students in a toast.
While we may have taught the students a few key phrase and subjects, they have taught Biermann and me even more. One lesson we observed was that the children all take care of each other. One child tripped and fell down. Several other children ran over and quickly dusted him off. The boy stood up and continued to plan and that was the end of it, without any intervention from a teacher.
There are a few older students that come to the younger students’ class just to help out. It was shocking to see ten and eleven year olds care for children that are not even their siblings. They made the porridge and wiped noses without a complaint. They also disciplined the children but were never too firm. Their maturity was inspiring.
Overall, the CULP trip was absolutely amazing. I learned something new every day and gained a lot of leadership experience both in and out of the classroom. I know that I can apply the lessons that I learned to my career as an Army officer and I now feel even more passionate about leading others in the United States military.