Workshop – Rongo University

At the beginning of the second week we travelled to Rongo ( one looong bus ride ) but when we finally arrived we were kindly welcomed and introduced to the university staff. Before I start I have to say that Rongo University were great hosts feeding us literally every two hours. Thank you, that was appreciated.

Day 1

On the first day we got introduced to the students we were going to work with. After the first workshop in Kenyatta University, we were feeling much more confident and relaxed. We started with a casual chat about our own experience with photography trying to get to know each other. After that we went out and started practicing with the cameras because nothing is as helpful as ‘hands on’ experience. We wanted to teach them but we also wanted them to have fun so we were using each other as models jumping around, playing football, etc. This time our group was smaller so it was easier to work with; we also had Fred who is extremely talented and was of great help. We had to decide as a group on a theme for the next day’s shoot. We knew we were visiting a local school where children from the Luo tribe were going to sing and dance for us. Performing is an important act for the tribe as it is a way of preserving their culture and traditions. We thought it would be a good idea to practice portraiture to be prepared for the next day. After that we decided on an additional theme. The students took us to a local gold mine where we were able to follow the process of digging, to washing the gold. We wanted to focus on the question of fair trade and exploitation of the workers there. In order to express that in the best way possible, we decided to create a digital story. After we got back, the guys from the video group filmed Boyana and Spencer talking about their experience and thoughts on the gold mine. We were full of ideas for both themes and were excited to go to the school on the following day.

Day 2

When we arrived at the school, everyone was excited and curious to see us. It was an absolute pleasure to watch the dances. Firstly, we watched the girls performing then the boys sang and danced for us. It was really really interesting and I believe we all really enjoyed it. The students took some incredible photos. Later on, we photographed some of the performers individually practicing portraiture. We were playing around with some of the younger pupils; they loved sticking their faces on the cameras.  We ended up with a lot of really good photos we could use for the final project. After lunch, we decided to start sorting out all the images and pick up the best ones. Again, that was a really long and difficult process. Luckily, by the end of the day we had a collection of photos for both themes. We further discussed how we wanted to structure our digital story and had a clear idea of what we needed to do on the next day.

Day 3

Of course we were wrong. There was a power cut on the next day so we could use our laptops only for a limited time. The day started with a basic Photoshop session. The students edited some of the images we were going to use. Then we manage to finish the Luo tribe presentation. We arranged the photographs in a particular order, put one of the songs the boys at the school were singing as a soundtrack, added some text to give a little bit more information about the tribe. However, we could not create the digital story for the gold mine as we wanted it. We had no time to add text or voice over as we initially planned. I think the images themselves were very strong , we put on music as a soundtrack which made the presentation even more influential but the project would have contributed greatly if we had had the time to add a voice over or at least some text explaining more about the process. At the end of the day, we were ready to present despite the technical issues we all had. I think we all did a great job considering the time and the obstacles. At the end of the day we were taking selfies, exchanging emails and facebooks. It was quite sad because we were leaving Rongo but we also started to realise that we were leaving Kenya pretty soon.

Bulk blog catch up

A well needed pause – Monday 26th

Today we had planned to meet up with the students from the university of Nairobi to discuss and reflect on the Stories from our Cities exhibition, but our meeting was cancelled at the last minute after news reaching us that the traffic would not enable us to reach the meeting point.
Instead, we took advantage of our day off to keep up to date with blogs, pack our things for the trip to Rongo and the Maasai Mara, and relax to recharge before the 2nd phase of our trip.

The longest journey yet – Tuesday 27th

We all woke up early on the Tuesday and did our last minute packing and arrangements before heading off to Rongo. We were scheduled to leave at 10am, which turned out to be 11:20am as expected from Kenyan punctuality. Our first stop for a break was at the Rift Valley – a valley which starts from the northern part of Africa down into Kenya and Tanzania. Even though we got hassled by touristy shopkeepers, the stop was worth it as the view was one of a kind.
Our next stop was in Narok where we had lunch. We finally arrived at Rongo University College at 8:30pm, making it a total of 9 hours travelling.

Rongo University round 1 – Wednesday 28th

On Wednesday we headed down to Rongo University at 9am, and after having breakfast we got introduced to the people we were going to be working with. We had a brief meeting with the university head, which we presented and donated the Raspberry Pi’s, followed by a short tour of the university campus and establishments, and finally met the group of students which would be working with us in the Audio Workshop group.
Following a similar technique from when we were at Kenyatta university, we sat down and briefly introduced ourselves and discussed what the workshop aims and objectives where, and when we had a clear understanding we proceeded to plan out our pre-production, such as ideas on who to interview, what questions to ask, how to follow up on questions etc.
We spent the rest of the day learning how to use the Zoom microphone by performing various experiments while getting familiar with the Audacity editing software. I made sure that the students would get the hands on the Zoom as much as possible so they could get familiar with it and learn its functions, as they would be using the equipment in the following days when recording interviews and editing material. The day ended with dinner at the university and finally us heading back to our accommodation.

Rongo University round 2Thursday 29th

Our 2nd day at the university included us going out recording interviews and preparing material that we would use to structure our audio podcast, following our plan we had made the day before. We went to a school a short walk away from the university which both students and teachers belonged to the Luo tribe, and the curriculum revolved around Luo upbringing and customs. We were interested in interview some teachers about what some of the Luo traditions and customs are, and to what extent they are still practiced to this day.
We were welcomed by a few dances by the school students – the first dance was a traditional Swahili dance performed by the girls, followed by a traditional Luo dance performed by the boys. I captured the songs from the dance on my Zoom microphone, to use as a potential background effect or introduction to our podcast, which would add an effective ambience to it.

We then interviewed a couple of teachers from the school, discussing the Luo tribe as well as how they aim to educate children on Luo culture and traditions and what challenges they might come across.
The material we gathered provided us with useful information to go back to at the university, as we had the opportunity to listen back to the recordings and decide what would fit best in our podcast in order to effectively inform potential listeners of the podcast. By the end of the day we had already decided what and what not to use, as well as performing some initial editing. Like the day before, the university catered dinner for us (which was amazing!) and afterwards we left the university for our accommodation.

Rongo University round 3 – Friday 30th

Our aim today was to have our work edited and refined for a final presentation by 4pm. We got to work as soon as possible (around 9:30am) and continued the editing that we had started from the day before. We came across a major problem unfortunately, as the buildings we were in had a power cut and so we only had a couple of hours until the battery on our laptops would die. Fortunately, we had good work ethic and determination, and managed to accomplish the bulk of the editing process up until 12noon.
At 3:30pm we moved over to the administration building in which we would have the presentation of all the workshops, and finished off the final touches there before presenting our work to the rest of the groups, as well as to the dean of the university and our group leader Peter Day.
At the presentation we faced further technical issues, as the speakers provided for us were of bad quality and extremely low volume, but nevertheless we got very flattering feedback from everyone who was pleased and impressed from our work. I was particularly pleased to see that the Kenyan students in our group were really happy and felt accomplished from the work we had done, in which they thanked us for after the presentation.
Once again, the university fed us some lovely food and we then headed off to our accommodation for an early night, as the following day included an early start for the journey towards the Maasai Mara.

Day 13, 31st – Departure day

 

Today was the day I left the group and waved them off into the early morning sunrise, ok maybe a few hours after sunrise, but the sun was shining and they were leaving on a coach. I wont go on about my travels home, but instead I will reflect on the trip.

This trip has been the trip of a lifetime, I can safely say you will never get this many experiences crammed into such a short amount of time!

As I mentioned at the start of my blogs a few weeks ago, Kenya and its people have blown me away! The energy of this amazing country is something that everyone should feel! This country should not be overlooked, it terms of this position in Africa and the world! I feel that the country no longer needs just aid or even services from other nations, yet this country needs to offer its services and its people’s knowledge! I feel Kenya may not know it yet, but it has a lot to offer, more than just minerals and tourism, but its culture of rich diversity, kindness and passion! Ok, I could win honorary citizenship if the president read this blog, but what’s the point in seeing the negative, which may I add is so often mentioned when talking about Kenya and its continent. I will be back to Kenya as soon as I can, hopefully to carry on this wonderful work, of shared knowledge, communication and development.

Moreover, I would like to thank all the different institution’s, charities and individual’s that we have worked with over the last few weeks! If it were not for their generosity and willingness this trip would not have been the same!

Finally, it comes without mention that this trip would not have been possible if it was not for our teacher DR. Peter Day. Moreover this shared experience that has integrated two Kenyan Universities, local charities, the Kenyan National Youth Council and the University of Brighton would not have been possible without the effort put in by Peter. I sure I can speak on behalf of all those listed above and past students from this course in thanking you for all your work. Again I’m not looking for honorary citizenship or in this case a degree, but I’m sure everyone would agree with me that your effort is next to none.

Spencer Curtin – 2015.

Day 12, 30th – Final Day

 

This morning after breakfast, the group got straight into editing the photos into a digital story. After the group got settled, I headed to another room to revise. Most of the day was spent popping in and out of the room. Around 2pm the group had completed the project, so had time to relax and chat about each other’s lives. Late afternoon, all the groups showed their projects, it’s so nice to see how as a collective group all our work liked, not just through the themes, but media. Later in the evening we said our goodbyes and exchanged Facebook’s, emails etc. it was sad that the trip had come to an end! However its was not a ‘goodbye’ but instead a ‘till next time’!

 

Day 11, 29th

 

Today we arrived at Rongo University, very excited to see our friends. After breakfast we got straight into planning the day. We already knew that we were going to the local school at lunchtime, so we just planned how best to share the cameras and take photos. After a slight delay (which in Kenya is a common thing) we headed to the local school. It was delightful to see the children ready to perform their culture. The singing and dancing was beautiful, the students took some really great photos and really took onboard the theme. After an hour of playing with the children and getting them hyper on sweets, we left for lunch. In the afternoon we looked over the photos and the group ran a photoshop lesson, during this afternoon I went off with other students to revise for a coming exam. I did pop in to see the group a few times and check on the project, safe to say the where fine without me.

Day 10, 28th

 

Today we left our accommodation at 8.30am we headed to Rongo for breakfast; afterwards we went to the practical media rooms and met our cohorts. It was far more relaxed this time, maybe because we knew what we had ourselves in for, or maybe just because Rongo has such a calm atmosphere. Firstly, we introduced ourselves to each other; we then started talking about each other’s skills within photography. We decided to leave the room and get ‘hands on’ the cameras. We felt a good way to keep the atmosphere relaxed, would be to use each other as models, this released any tension and made the day far more fun. After lunch, as a group we decided on a theme for the next days shoot. The theme was about how local school children from the luo tribe are keeping their culture alive through singing and dance. Moreover, as we had covered the basics of photography by lunchtime, we decided to set another theme for the afternoon. The students told us about a local gold mine and how the men and women of the community were getting exploited by buyers who pay them so little. We felt this liked to our core value of community. The gold mine was amazing, it was said to see such basic conditions for the community would work seven days a week, digging and panning for gold. As a group we felt we could create a digital story of photographs, the students followed the process of digging, to washing the gold. It was a great experience to witness and I felt it set us up for the next day.

Day 9, 27th

 

Today we headed to Rongo University College. It took around 9hours by coach. The trip was broken up by a few stops, one being the rift valley; it is said that the first human bones were excavated here, this was deferentially the highlight of my day. We arrived at Rongo around 8pm. We were greeted by a candle lit dinner! The university grounds are amazing, in a way a small version of Kenyatta University. After dinner we headed to our accommodation, which are small en-suite rooms with doors onto a shared courtyard.

 

RONGO 2 AND 3

RONGO WORKSHOPS.

Day 1.

Groups were allocated today which meant our group didn’t get the workshop they wanted. Charlie took charge and we eventually headed out to a Sugar Cane farm to interview the owners.

We got there, and it looked like a scene from Harry Potter (no shame) the Weasleys house surrounded by fields of crops.. We walked through to some tin shacks and found the owner who seemed uncomfortable to talk to us, but then his aunt came out of literally thin air and gave us a much more indepth interview, of which I cant tell you about as it was entirely in another language.

Regardless,  while the interview was going on I was heavily distracted by almost being killed by a dog and then I saw TINY PUPPIES . TINY. TINY. PUPPIES.
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We gave the sugar farm some money so they could buy soap and water and in return they ripped up some sugar cane from the ground and gave it to us.

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Our group decided to just get on with the work we set them and began translating and giving voiceovers.

Day 2/3

We headed to a local school where they showed us traditional Loar singing and dancing. I really really enjoyed this and the history behind it.

The boys sung a song about a musician who lost the love of his life and was singing to get her back.
The girls sung a song about a woman whose lost her husband to another woman but she doesn’t care and sings about how the other woman can have him because he’s no good.

This day was spent complaining and being heavily unorganised. Eventually we decided the Rongo students should concentrate on Sugar Cane Farming and the three Brighton students will make a video on the school.

I think it all ended pretty well, all the groups did an amazing job and the videos/audio were all so much better than Kenyatta

RONGO

It’s  currently 7.21 in the morning (4.22am English time) and I’m sitting in a nunnery listening to birds and distant speaking. I’ve gotten so used to hearing everyone talking and laughing in the morning this is unusual…

I feel like a mix between Whoopy Gholdberg and Julie Andrews only I’m not in a light hearted family musical set in America/Austria, I’m in Rongo, Kenya and I’m tired and couldn’t find the button to turn on the boiler so I could have a warm shower. I had a cold shower and then realised the button was above my head, out of my reach.

Unlike Julie Andrews the hillls here are not alive with the sound of music. More so, they are alive with the sound of crickets, goats and the boys screaming about caterpillars.

Our coach journey here took around 9 hours, that’s longer than our entire flight (including layovers) from Heathrow to Nairobi. Our plane had films,T.V shows, games, food, drinks,  blankets and pillows. Our coach had minor concussion from smacking your head off the windows if we were on a dirt road and you weren’t paying attention.

Today after breakfast, we head to the university  to start workshops. 🙂

CM4K  QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You have prickely heat because it’s hot and you’re  a prick”