David Hooley, from First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, Ohio, knew education was important, but not until he taught in Kenya did he really see the impact of his work.
He recently completed a one-year Serving and Learning Together (SALT) assignment with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Songhor, Kenya, where he taught physics and math to students at Songhor Secondary School.
[highlight]David was among nine EMU alumni who joined SALT last year. Read more about them here.[/highlight]
Hooley was one of 46 young adults from Canada and the U.S., ages 18 to 30, who served in 24 countries from August 2015 to July 2016. MCC will commission a new group of 56 young adults for service with SALT on Aug. 16. They will serve through July 2017.
In addition to classroom teaching, Hooley set up physics lab activities and assisted teachers. He also led individual tutoring sessions for high school students and taught community members basic computer theory and skills at a local community resource center.
By the end of his term, Hooley was able to see some of his students using the skills that he taught them.
“There was one student named Tito Frank that I met very early in my term,” recalled Hooley. “He was a very motivated young man in his third year of high school. He came to the community resource center often to study and get help with certain topics.
“One afternoon I helped him practice and master a topic in biology. Several months later Tito came back and told me that he come across a question on an exam in that very topic and had received full credit for his answer. It felt great to see the results of my help and his hard work in his studies.”
Teaching in a cross-cultural setting is one of the opportunities that attracts young adults, ages 18-30, to participate in SALT, a program that immerses young adults from Canada and the U.S. into a new culture. There they use their skills to serve with local churches and organizations that focus on agriculture, health care, information technology, peace and more.
Hooley was interested in the SALT program because it was an opportunity to be immersed in a local culture and community. Living with a host family enabled Hooley to engage in everyday activities and conversations.
“It revealed to me more than ever that happiness and comfort are both relative,” he reflected. “They are experienced in so many different ways in different cultures and families.”
“I was eager to not only learn about the community I lived in, but to share my gifts and knowledge with the youth and adults of the community that eventually taught me so much,” said Hooley.
Hooley recognizes that education plays a huge role in the life of his host community.
“Primary and secondary schools are healthy learning environments for children and young men and women to prepare for the future,” he said.
“Education also empowers community members to act as a role model for younger children in the community,” Hooley added. “Many educated young men and women return to the village to teach in the schools they themselves have grown up in.”