James first heard about The School of St Jude in 2013 when he joined Louisville Collegiate School in Louisville, Kentucky.
“The first group of teachers from Louisville had just returned from St Jude’s in Tanzania and were telling wonderful stories about the place,” recalls James. “I was thrilled and wanted to come to see for myself,” he adds.
So when Cindy, a board member of Louisville Collegiate School, President the American Friends of The School of St Jude (AFSJ) board and a pioneer of the newly established partnership between the two schools, asked him if he would be interested in joining, James jumped at the opportunity.
“In the summer of the following year I was on my way to St Jude’s for the first time!” says James excitedly. “I immediately fell in love with the students, teachers, staff, and everything about the school,” he adds passionately. This September, James was back again, along with Cindy and three other education professionals.
Kufundisha Pamoja (kufundisha pamoja means teaching together in Kiswahili) is a partnership program between schools in the United States and St Jude’s in Tanzania. Through the program, teachers from both sides exchange their skills, knowledge, and experience in pedagogy through running professional development programs, team building training, co-teaching, and more.
“Both teachers and students have greatly benefitted from this program,” says Mr Elineema, St Jude’s Primary School Deputy Academic Master, who has been working with James during his recent visit.
“It is different from other programs because the facilitators are actively engaged in the day-to-day activities at school. So their input is timely and relevant,” he adds.
Mr Elineema was part of a group from St Jude’s that travelled to Louisville Collegiate School in Kentucky as part of the program in 2016. He looks back at his time in the United States as one of the most eye-opening experiences in his 15-year career in education. His most interesting discovery was how similar students in the United States are to their Tanzanian counterparts.
“For example, the discipline challenges we face with students in Tanzania were identical to those in the United States,” he explains. “Yet their approach to disciplining students is different from most schools in Tanzania. So an exchange program like this can go a long way to help us re-evaluate our approach to pedagogy,” he elaborates.
Along with James is Jim, the Associate Head of School at Louisville Collegiate School. Like James, Jim uses his 24 years’ experience in education to enhance the exchange of knowledge and skills within the program.
“What I love about the program is that it is a true partnership,” says Jim. “We learn and we’re also supportive of the work that’s happening here at St Jude’s,” he explains.
Jim joined the program in 2014 and has been to St Jude’s three times since then. In addition to helping out with the program, he is inspired by St Jude’s mission of fighting poverty with education and has since joined the fight himself.
“I knew I wanted to sponsor a scholarship for a student right away,” Jim recalls of his first visit to St Jude’s.
“During my first visit in 2015, there was a small group of students that would play games with me after class hours. When I enquired about the sponsorship process, I was told one of the students from that group was unsponsored and asked me if I’d like to sponsor him,” Jim shares.
“And that’s how I met Isack!” Jim says excitedly.
Over the years, Jim has grown to learn about Isack and his family through regular greetings, letters, and updates. The sponsorship experience has been a fulfilling one for Jim, who now looks forward to hearing all the wonderful things happening in Isack’s life.
Since its inception in 2013, Kufundisha Pamoja has brought together 43 different participants between the United States and Tanzania. The program has expanded to include four schools in the US with participants meeting at least once every year. Through the program, the St Jude’s community has grown and welcomed many wonderful new members.
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