Beth Waweru, a Mandarin teacher at Kitengela International Schools in Athi River, found her passion for teaching later in life. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Kenyatta University, she currently serves as the Secretary of the Chinese Language Teachers Association in Kenya. Additionally, she is pursuing a Master of Arts in Education at Shandong Normal University in China.
Ms Waweru shared her career journey via Saturday Magazine.
“The idea of me standing in front of students, giving them assignments, and marking their books was not even a pipe dream 10 years ago. I was sure I would never be a teacher, so I began laying the groundwork for my engineering career in high school by taking all science subjects. The engineering course was related to my father’s profession as an architect. I had hoped to be his assistant at some point in my life, and I knew that pursuing a course in the same field would make this dream come true.
However, before I joined campus, I had mentally enrolled in 10 of courses because I would think of a new course every day. Some of them were requests from people. For example, my father wanted me to study law or medicine, but neither piqued my interest.
After passing my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations, I stayed home to await my acceptance to university. Shockingly, my university invitation letter was for a bachelor’s course in Education, English Literature, and Special Needs at Kenyatta University because. That came as a surprise to me, and I refused because I wanted to pursue engineering.
It took the efforts of my elder sister, who challenged me that I choose subjects in which I have interest in. She advised that I think about combining English with Sign Language Interpretation. She made education appear more enjoyable in front of my eyes, so I decided to take the course. I have been grateful since.
In my first classes on campus, I realised none of my new friends wanted to be teachers. They held that teachers were underpaid given the many times teachers in the country had downed tools to demand pay raises. It was hard imagining us sitting at University, pursuing that same career.
However, by the end of our first semester, we all knew we wanted to be teachers. We kept learning, getting good grades, and participating in projects, and we were always the first to volunteer to honour teachers on National Teachers’ Day.
I am very passionate about languages, which is why I chose Literature. I enrolled in a Chinese language beginner certificate program at Kenyatta University’s Confucius Institute. The university offers a package for students enrolled there. Shandong Normal University in China provided a virtual component of my Chinese language course.
I began studying Chinese because I was interested in its writing, pronunciation, and culture, and this is how my Chinese journey began in 2017. This foreign language helped me land a job at Kitengela International Schools in Athi River. I’ve been teaching Chinese language and culture for the past four years.
In the process, I was elected the secretary of the Chinese Language Teachers Association in Kenya, where I work closely with the Chinese embassy to improve the professionalism among Mandarin teachers. The association also helps in creating jobs and training opportunities for its members. As the association’s secretary, I am exercising my leadership skills and interacting with other teachers from other schools and other positions in life. So it’s an opportunity for me also to learn.
Being a teacher has provided me with opportunities to positively impact the lives of others. Witnessing the academic and personal growth of my students brings me a great deal of joy and fulfilment. Also, teaching allows me to constantly learn, adapt, and see the changes in my student’s lives. I had no idea I had such a compassionate nature towards children, people, and learning environments until I became a teacher.
As an Akorino lady, I have encountered challenges when interacting with people who do not understand my denomination, such as constantly covering my head in a white turban. Whenever someone approaches me with questions about my denomination, I answer them because if I were not an Akorino, I would also be curious about why they do so.
I now love and enjoy teaching and through my hard work and commitment, I got a scholarship through the Confucius Institute at Kenyatta University to pursue my Masters of Arts in Education at Shandong Normal University in China.
My advice to young students on campus is that the knowledge we gain as teachers is not intended for us as individuals, but for the people we will share it with and the impact we will have on their lives.
It is also beneficial to find something enjoyable to do outside of your profession. For example, my younger brother who is a DJ and I are co-founders of Swift Sound Events. We provide sound systems for corporate events, weddings, dowry, different gatherings and parties. We offer DJ and MC services too.”