This afternoon, I saw the Bishop and Marilyn having a quiet lunch together, so I decided to ask if they wouldn’t mind some extra company. I was planning on having a light-hearted chat with the two of them when the topic of conversation turned to my take of the music program.
I was surprised. I wasn’t even sure that the music program was on the radar of the Bishop, with his traveling around East and South Africa to have religious and political meetings. It is incomprehensible to me what this man has seen in his life, so I figured that he wouldn’t care what little ‘ole me was doing musically at the primary school that is named after him.
Little did I know. The Bishop told me that he formed the Thiiri Centre with the MAIN goal of having a music program for the community. The pool, the accommodations, the kitchen, the festivals – they are all secondary to the main goal of developing a music center. How did I not know this? It was obviously not apparent from how the Thiiri Centre is run – it seemed that the Centre was supposed to be a center for activity, but not necessarily musical activity in the area.
The Bishop summarized the situation as the result of his not properly pursuing his passion and his dream for the Thiiri Centre: music. During my time here, I have often felt alone, having no direction from above. I thought that maybe this was a result of the Kenyan culture, but after my conversation with the Bishop today, I came to realize that this was a result of his decision to be hands-off about the music program. He and Marilyn had decided to let the music volunteers from America do what they thought was best. On my trip, this meant that I have often been left to make political, curricular, and pedagogical decisions on my own.
I was relieved to hear the Bishop take from his conversation with me that there needs to be a great deal more oversight for the music program. Without this oversight, I can easily see the string program (not the band) slipping through the cracks, moving through a slow and drawn out demise.
A little bit of attention from the Bishop will go a long way; now that he is ready to take an active role in the direction of the music program, I feel as though now there will be a clearer direction for what is expected and how to execute the music program. Who knows if this oversight will really happen – I know better than to count on it. But I do know that now, I feel much better about leaving this Friday. Before my talk with the Bishop and Marilyn, I was ready to leave with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I felt as if I had volunteered my summer only to have the program wilt after I left from a lack of attention from the powers that be.
I’m leaving Kenya on Friday. While my journey here has been rough at times, it is impossible to deny that this program and Boniface both have heaps of potential. I’m just seeing the beginning of it. I wish I could go forward in time to see where it ends up in a few years!