School has been in session now for just a few weeks, and there is an unbelievable amount of work to do.
My new home.
Yeah, it’s been an adjustment.
The kids are, for the most part, pretty cool. Most of them are from Somaliland, from the major city Hargeisa, but there are also many from the countryside, including from the disputed regions of Sool and Sanaag, out by Puntland. Some grew up at the pinnacle of privilege (the son of the Vice President is in my 9th grade English class), and others had lived as nomads and had never seen a computer or toilet before coming here. It is truly marvelous to see them all learning together, and (miraculously) there are almost no fights between them.
There are also few are members of the Somali Diaspora who have returned because they feel our school can provide them with a world class education in a setting that will allow them to experience Somali culture. For example, we have a pair of half-Somali, half-American brothers who joined this year because their mother (from the area) returned home to work for a local NGO. Whenever I think I may be culture-shocked, I think about those two brothers, and remind myself that they have it much worse. There is also a pair of brothers who grew up in London, and their fabulously wealthy father occasionally treats the entire teaching staff to dinner at the swank Ambassador Hotel in Hargeisa. And then there is a boy who grew up in Nairobi, who was given only a week’s notice to prepare for attending boarding school in a country he has never visited and barely understands. He handles it well, and has a great attitude, although he can be a little disrespectful at times. I like to call him “Kenyan Cartman,” because he resembles the character Eric Cartman from South Park, both in sense of humor and, um…shape.
I should say that we have an INCREDIBLY talented group of kids here. During the first week of school, we had a fundraising event, and this one girl gave the most moving speech about how our school was the first time anyone cared enough to give her a progress report. She’s one of our top students.
"Somewhere in Somaliland, there is a child crying out for attention. That child was me. That child was all of us.”
Watch out, Harvard 2016!
What else do we do besides study? We have the only basketball court in the country (although, Sheikh Secondary School, the other premier boarding school in the country, and our bitter rival) is supposedly building one. We make sure that both the boys AND the girls get a chance to play, although they cannot be on the court at the same time.
Since we live in a strikingly beautiful area, sometimes we go on hikes.
And climb trees.
And it’s windy most of the time, so we fly kites.
Or we just hang out. This must be the only high school in the world where the students actually like seeing their teachers.
More to come! Thanks for reading, everyone.