Each lesson in a Kisa Class introduces new ideas about leadership to a group of capable young Tanzanian women. How is this important information best digested by 1,700 Kisa Scholars? It’s all a matter a taste!
I like to think of the Kisa Project like a restaurant, made up of a menu of many different dishes. Kisa Mentors use a variety of approaches and techniques (or ingredients) to deliver a class (or meal) to her Scholars. Each activity is unique and tasty in its own way – there is something that sure to appeal to or resonate with each person. She wants each Scholar to leave feeling full, satisfied (but eager for more) and ready to share what she learned (ate) with others.
It is during Kisa Classes that Mentors really connect with the Scholars. While delivering the Kisa Curriculum, they also get to know their Scholars as people, finding out what they most enjoy, their unique talents, and what they do outside of Kisa Class. Mentors learn the differences between individual Scholars’ interests, and because the program is taught over a two year period at 27 Partner Schools, the differences between entire classes.
The Spider Web!
Enjoy this video of a group of Kisa Scholars at Arusha Girls School doing a team building activity, which requires problem solving and cooperation. Their laughter when they succeed really says it all!
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Among the things I enjoy the most is Scholars having the chance to show their creativity as they demonstrate their love for Kisa. One of my classes particularly enjoys the arts. It is always cheerful in the classroom whenever we draw, write, use drama, or include music. They even composed a Kisa song, which I found to be very impressive! The song explains how Kisa has taught them to be leaders and changemakers, but also how it has lightened their lives and awakened the fire in them as young women. It is always healthy to let Scholars use their talents during Kisa Classes.
Some of my Scholars have been thinking about how they can connect with their fellow Scholars at other schools. Apart from meeting each other briefly at Career Day or Health Symposium, there aren’t many opportunities to come together. So, they came up with the idea of being matched with Kisa pen pals from one of the other schools where I mentor. This has become one of the most effective ways to build loyalty to the class. The Scholars never want to miss a class because they know they have letters from their pen pals each week! They love to respond, so the end of each session includes a writing activity. What a great way to improve communications skills!
The most rewarding part about this partnership between schools is when the Scholars met their pen pals in person recently at Year 1 Presentation day. Everyone was so excited to get to know what their pen pals looked like, to see who they had been chatting with, and to share some great moments together. This also helped Scholars to work hard and be creative in preparing their Year 1 Presentations. Knowing they were finally going to have the chance to mix with their pen pals encouraged them to be in their best form for their new friends.
Another enjoyable part of Kisa Classes is a surprise ingredient: visitors! Having an occasional visitor in class has been among the best moments for the Scholars. The learning is mutual – the Scholars learn a lot from the visitors and are happy and excited to see a new face in their class. And, most visitors have little chats with the Scholars, to find out what they learn in Kisa. There can also be fun new games and activities. No matter how good a Mentor is, she is still the same face and the same voice each week all school year, so when visitors come to class, the atmosphere pops with joy.
Indeed, it is always best to have several activities ready to enliven the class, whether a guest is present or not, because most Kisa Classes start late in the afternoon after the Scholars are done with their regular school day. They are tired from hours of heavy academics, so it is important to refresh their minds with some juicy activities.
There are a variety of things that can make up a successful Kisa Class and they all depend on Scholars’ interests. Some Scholars want you to come with an inspiring video for them to watch each time you have class. One of my classes feels most at ease when we start with a word of prayer at the beginning and end of each day’s Kisa lesson. Once the first few weeks of the school year are underway, the Mentor usually has a pretty good idea of how to make the material palatable for a particular class. She also has ten fellow Kisa Mentors to bounce ideas off of.
Chonge, another Kisa Mentor, explains that “starting my Kisa Classes with greetings and updates makes for the best sessions. Before starting the class, I hear from the Scholars what new things have recently happened at school. I also tell them something new that is going on in the world outside of school, sometimes using an example from social media. I really enjoy hearing my Scholars’ ideas and perceptions on different issues. This helps me to better understand these girls and the best way to relate to each one of them. Scholars love their Kisa time, especially games, and they will always ask ‘Madam, aren’t we having a game today?’”
Chonge suggests that dedicating a session to Scholars speaking about their life experiences might make Kisa Classes even more appetizing. This would build a tighter bond within the class, allow the Mentors even more exposure to what the Scholars are going through and facilitate ways to assist those who are in need of help.
Eliakunda, a very experienced Kisa Mentor says “I like seeing my students improving in so many ways. I like seeing the best out of my students. I like when some of my Scholars say they are not confident and we work day-to-day on that, and with time, their confidence is improved. I like learning from my students because I feel they know so much.” Ellie adds “the best part of Kisa each year is listening to the judges’ feedback for the Year 1 Presentations, because they speak about the girls even when they do not know them well, which confirms to the girls that they have improved.”
We try to make each and every Kisa session the most delicious using the best possible ingredients in order to appeal to the Scholars’ taste buds! Cheers to all the Kisa Mentors for cooking up the best Kisa Classes!
Get to know Einoth and the organization that she started to promote reading and writing among youth in Tanzania.