On Nov 12, 2015, a group comprising of 22 children and 9 adults all immigrants from St. Louis MO embarked on a long educational road trip from St Louis to Washington DC. The trip was not only exciting but will also remain historic and memorable to these kids not because this was their first time to visit DC, but because they had the opportunity to tour the White House, the US Capitol, the Kenya Embassy, and other Historic sites in Washington, as well as meet with Kenya diplomats stationed in DC.
In a meeting hosted at the Kenya Embassy – our first stop on arrival – by the Kenya ambassador to USA, H.E Ambassador Robinson Njeru Githae, our children, some of who were born here in the US, could not have been more inquisitive. Ambassador Githae was bombarded with questions on topics ranging from politics, security, and the economy. The clearly articulated answers that he provided were very simple but profound, and this greatly helped our kids to learn more about Kenya, the functions of the embassy, and its role as a link between Kenya and US government.
The White House is one place that everyone in the group, including Vitendo4Africa (V4A) founder and CEO, Mr. Geoffrey Soyiantet, looked forward to tour. Our pride was conspicuous as we moved inside the rooms and corridors of the legendary building that houses the most powerful man on earth and his family. Oh! You would have seen us posing for photos. All our kids gave almost a similar story of how their American teachers and fellow students could not hide their shock on hearing that we were to tour the White House, since none of them have had such an opportunity. What an honor!
At US Capitol’s Southern Theater, we watched a very informative documentary on American history, the U.S. Congress including how it’s two “chambers,” – the House of Representatives and the Senate – are constituted, and how they both execute their legislative function.
We were then given a guided learning tour inside the building where I personally learned that there is an empty tomb inside the building which was meant for George Washington, and which marks the central point of the entire DC.
Throughout the 3 day tour, our children’s excitement was visible and their aspirations were revitalized, as evidenced by comments and questions sampled as below;
“I am from St. Louis and now I am in the White house where the US president lives”, said a visibly excited Sally Njenga, a 5th grader at Hazelwood School District, while Ian karanja, a 6th grader in the same School District inquiringly asked, “How can I become an ambassador?”
Joy Muiruri, a Middle School student at Hazelwood West Middle, displayed a mixer of both pride and surprise as she quoted her teacher who said,
“Wow! You are so lucky! This is a rare opportunity. I have toured most parts of the world like Germany, Australia and may more, but have never been to the White House.”
Comments on the ‘rare opportunity story’ were simply summarized by Anne Sankale, a third grader at Jana Elementary who said, “I am the first person in my whole school to visit the White House. I have a lot to share with my friends in school when I go back”.
These statements are representative of the many wonderful comments made by the young tourist during this adventure.
We strongly believe that this epic tour to Washington DC, which was both very exciting and educative, will forever be engraved in our children’s memory. Their self esteem and self confidence was highly boosted particularly by the White House tour experience. As they pursue their wildest dreams, they now know, at their tender age, that even as immigrant children, their dreams in the greatest nation on earth are undoubtedly valid.
F4KIDZ program strives to promote mentorship for immigrant students to help them overcome social, emotional, and academic challenges as they pursue their life dreams. Through V4A F4KIDZ program, we inspire and help kids to discover their potential as we invest in their dreams.
Vitendo4africa (V4A) mission is to empower stronger, healthier immigrant individuals and families through advocacy, the provision of supports and services, and by strengthening alliances and developing strategic collaborations.
By Bernard M. Wamarema
White House Experience