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Kemoi Shares Extraordinary Life Story with Students

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Mrs. Hannah Kemoi (center) with the 8Gs

When Hannah was a young girl in Kenya, her trip to school was equivalent to walking the distance from the L-S campus to Lancaster City. She switched to a more rigorous school in fourth grade and the walking distance increased from Lampeter to New Holland. Hannah and her friends visited a local creek at lunchtime to drink and to distract themselves from being hungry. Even then, Hannah focused every day on learning. She knew that “without education, there is nothing else.”

These days, Mrs. Hannah Kemoi is raising four children (all students at L-S) and recently received her degree in business administration from Strayer University. She immigrated to the United States in 2003 through the Diversity Visa program and became a citizen in 2010. She loves America and finds joy in everything from playgrounds to the water that comes out of her tap at home. Kemoi embodies a positive attitude, living by the motto “as long as you have breath in your body, there is hope.”

English/Language Arts teacher Mrs. Joanne Williard invited Kemoi to speak to eighth grade classes about life from a perspective completely different from their own. She shared the experience of growing up poor and without easy access to medical care in an area where many young children must drop out of school to help their families survive. She also told of the hard work and perseverance that went into immigrating to the United States - a two-year process, studying for her citizenship exam, and supporting her family after her husband passed away in 2013.

Students listened intently to Kemoi’s life story and asked thoughtful questions about everything from what surprised her when first arriving in America (how to dress for the weather) to what makes a traditional Kenyan meal (milk, vegetables, meat, and corn meal). Students enjoyed hearing Kemoi speak in Swahili as well as in the Kalenjin tribal language.

Kemoi left the students with a clear-cut message. “When you have food, water, and sleep you can do anything.”

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