When violence overtook Kenya, Eloise Hockett stepped in to help
The call for help came in 2008. A rash of violence had erupted in Kenya following the controversial reelection of President Mwai Kibaki, and leaders of the 240 Quaker high schools in the country saw an immediate need for a curriculum that would promote peace and conflict resolution among their students.
Eloise Hockett was part of a team from the university's School of Education that volunteered to help develop the curriculum, but the educators immediately saw a problem. "We knew that we could not sit in our offices here in Newberg and say, 'We know what you need, we'll write you something,'" she explains. The solution was clear: get on a plane and go.
"I had the time free and it was like my heart kept pounding, 'you need to go, you need to go,'" she recalls. So Hockett did just that, making her first trip in April of 2009 to take part in a workshop with Kenyan educators, and returning several times since, thanks in no small part to a series of university-funded faculty development grants.
That firsthand experience helped Hockett and others on the team develop a curriculum designed specifically to address the unique challenges that face 9th and 10th grade Kenyan students, which range from the threat of violence against young women and hostility between neighboring tribes to a lack of resources and funding for schools.
"I've seen some deplorable conditions in schools, and yet some amazing teaching," says Hockett. "The teachers there are dedicated, and education is highly valued."
With the peace curriculum now fully developed and being implemented in 60 of the Quaker schools across the country, the next challenge involves training teachers at the remaining 180 Quaker schools, and perhaps someday convincing the Kenyan government to approve it in high schools across the country.
"Think about the potential for outreach," says Hockett, as she adds up the thousands of students who could be impacted by the curriculum. "If they are bringing that information to their homes and into their communities, and they keep reaching and touching other people, it's huge."