For years, Langley Fine Arts School has partnered with schools in Kenya, sharing in the learning process through a project called the Butterfly Effect.
Students from Langley work on projects via Skype and the joint Butterfly Effect website with students in Kenya.
But this year for the first time, with the support of the Langley School District, parents and staff at LFAS decided to bring some of those students from Kenya to learn at LFAS.
James Muraguri, 16, Victor Mageto, 20, and George Gidonga, 18, have been experiencing Canadian culture and sharing their own traditions since arriving in January.
The young men have been living with home stay parents while they participate in school. They also make presentations to classes, teach traditional Maasai dance, make African foods for kids to try, teach their Canadian counterparts some Swahili words and share their culture.
They have taught students how to make soccer balls out of plastic bags tied together. The young men gave one of those soccer balls to the Langley Board of Education when they spoke at the May 24 meeting.
“Canadians are very kind, polite and willing to learn,” said Mageto.
“It’s hard to sum up five months here. It’s been magical.”
The group has been to Whistler, where they experienced snow, and have taken part in a blanketing ceremony with the Kwantlen First Nation.
“The longer we are here, the more we develop relationships. We’ve seen great change. The first day we were here, students didn’t have the courage to ask us questions,” said Gidonga.
“Now they are very comfortable asking us all questions. They learn from us and we learn from them.”
Now the three Kenyan teens are greeted in the hallways with “hello” in Swahili.
Gidonga had some advice to Canadians that he shared at the board meeting.
“People really feel like they want to help us in Kenya, but use the right path,” he said. “For example, volunteers come to carry water for two weeks but then the leave and what has been gained?
Kids in Kenya need libraries and scholarships. I got scholarships and that’s what changed my life. It should be about sustainable helping,” said the 18-year-old.
LFAS Grade 2 teacher Amber Ilyss has been integral in getting the boys to Langley.
“This initiative has great potential,” she said. Next year they would like to bring four students, two to go to another Langley school.
The group of parents that organizes this, is hoping for corporate sponsors to come to the table to help with airfare, etc. To learn more go to PA-MOJA.com.