The Kitale Connections Project (KCP) emerged as the flagship service-learning project for the Mashburn Center for Learning–Institute on Research for Social-Emotional and Service-Learning. KCP grew from the partnership between the Chicks for Children Foundation with support from the College of Education and the Department of Elementary, Literacy and Special Education. The Kitale Connections Project was designed with the overall purpose: to gain a deeper understanding of the various factors, especially extreme poverty, that impacts education around the world.
In May, 2014, a group of professors and teacher candidates, along with a medical team from Tennessee, traveled to Kitale, Kenya. For the professors and candidates the trip was guided by three objectives. One, teacher candidates, with their professors, would provide professional development and training on Making Minutes Matter to teachers at the Seeds Academy. Making Minutes Matter is an instructional technique to integrate social and emotional lessons into the daily routines. Two, teacher candidates and professors would cultivated relationships with orphans, students, teachers, community organizers and clergy in Kitale with the goal of sustaining those relationships. Three, gain a more global perspectives of education, engage in self-discovery and reflection, and embrace the idea of global citizenry and education. The trip was more than anyone expected and provided everyone with unique and life-changing experiences. In many ways, the teachers became the students and they learned invaluable lessons from the many individuals they encountered throughout Kitale.
As part of the over arcing goal of KCP, students and faculty have shared their experiences through various presentation and articles. Most recently, a representative group presented to the College of Education for its Tea Time Talk–a monthly activity where faculty share their work with other colleagues and others. There was also an exhibit organized in the lobby of the College of Education. The exhibit provided teacher candidates an opportunity to share what they learned with other students and empower those students to find ways to make a difference in their local and global communities. The group has also submitted a proposal to the Gulf South Summit on Service-Learning & Civic Engagement through Higher Education with the hopes of being accepted for presentation this March in Little Rock.