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Habari Gani?
(Swahili for “What’s the news?”)

John Linsley ’04 (KSP fall ’02)
History Department
Stratton Mountain School
World Cup Circle
Stratton Mountain, VT 05155

As noted last time, Jessie Davie ’04 (KSP fall ’02) and Sarah Ellis ’04 (KSP fall ’02) spent much of this past year volunteering in the West African country of Ghana at the Kopeyia Bloomfield Local Authority Schools.  Jessie wrote of their experience; this is an edited summary, and you can e-mail me for the complete account.

“Two years after leaving Kenya, both Sarah and I confessed a longing to return.  We both felt like it was time to do something significant and altruistic. While researching potential programs, we came across Kopeyia Ghana School Fund (KGSF). 

“The village was a far cry from the hot running water and ice cream desserts fed to us on the KSP.  But, my rural homestays in Meru and Samburu had given me a solid base to create realistic expectations which allowed for a gentle transition into life in rural Ghana.  The village of Kopeyia, with a population of 2,000, lies about two miles from both Togo and the Gulf of Guinea.  Agriculture--harvesting maize and cassava in particular--is the main source of income, while family and traditional Ewe culture are its true livelihood.

“My daily routine focused on the local public school, which was constructed by KGSF in 1988.  Grades ranged from kindergarten through middle school.  KGSF funded all of the six buildings which make up the campus, now provides half of the teaching staff, pays for various extracurricular activities, and sponsors many native Kopeyians to continue their education or pursue an apprenticeship in the trades. 

“In my first few months there, I had to force myself to recite a new mantra.  That mantra was the slogan on a bumper sticker which I had purchased at the Maasai Market in Nairobi: ‘There is No Hurry in Africa.’ 
“My to-do lists melted as quickly as I did in the equatorial swelter and I eventually let go of my clichéd hopes of ‘making a difference.’  Instead I fell into a slow routine of chipping away at projects: meeting with the girls’ club, assisting with football practices, conducting business and computer lessons, teaching English. There were no textbooks to teach English, the girls could rarely attend club meetings because of household duties and market trips, the Ghana Education Service teachers wouldn’t show up for their scheduled classes, and power outages were common. Disappointments became routine.

“At first it was hard to get beyond some of the frustrations, protruded bellies and inequalities, but the more time I spent in the village, the more I was able to realize that perspective is necessary when living in and, ideally, learning from another culture.  Everyone has time to stop and help each other, no matter what they’re doing.  The children’s playground is boundless and their family is the village.  The sound of drumming fills the air at all hours of the day and laughter accompanies the beat.  ‘You are invited’ is customary when one is about to eat.

Sarah joined me five months later. Realistically, our impact on the village was minimal.  Moses’ vocabulary is a little stronger, Akpene can type 20 words per minute, and two children stricken with malaria are alive today because Sarah rushed them to the hospital.  Our journey to Ghana began in Kenya and we hope it will continue from there, a journey without hurry, and one that includes learning and optimism.”

Kathleen Fitzgerald ’92 (KSP spring ’91), plans to lead a trip to Tanzania in the summer of 2007 for the Adirondack Mountain Club.  You can explore details for her upcoming trip at or Kathleen is based in Boston, where she is executive director of the Northeast Wilderness Trust. 

Suzi Barry (University of Montana, KSP fall ’05) spent her independent study attached to Save the Elephants (STE), an organization which focuses its conservation work in Kenya’s Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves.  She assisted with a project which traces elephants’ migration routes using GPS.  Having witnessed the financial obstacles which keep so many young Kenyans from attaining a secondary school education, Suzi recently established the Kenya Education Fund with the mission of benefiting those in need of financial support to further their education.

Suzi noted, “My semester in Kenya was the greatest thing I’ve done in my life up to this point.  I learned more about the world, other cultures, and myself than I could have ever dreamed.  I received the greatest gifts while there, and I’m not talking about material gifts.  I made friendships which will last longer than a lifetime.”

KSP Reunion Update
If you are among those KSP alumni interested in participating in a reunion in Kenya in the summer of 2008, please contact me at  A reunion would likely take the form of an abbreviated KSP semester during which alumni, along with their family and friends, would go on safari and visit homestay families.  Asanteni sana!

Send Your Updates!

If you have a story from your KSP semester or can provide an update of your current adventures, please contact me. Sawa basi na bakini salama!

Summer 2003 Entry
Fall 2003 Entry
Winter 2004 Entry
Spring 2004 Entry
Summer 2004 Entry
Fall 2005 Entry
Spring 2006 Entry
Summer 2006 Entry

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