Visiting students from St. Mary’s Secondary School in Kenya with
Bro. Dominic Jordan and Vice President Biden
Two students at St. Mary’s Boys Secondary School in Nyeri, Kenya had an unexpected experience while visiting the United States for two weeks. On April 22, 20-year-old Nelson Gitonga and 17-year-old Dennis Mwai were guests at the home of Vice President and Mrs. Joe Biden.
The surprise invitation came after Mwai and Gitonga met Biden’s granddaughter, while visiting the school she attends, who then told her grandparents about them.
Mwai and Gitonga shared their story with the Vice President–including how they spend a majority of their hours studying because they want to succeed.
Biden advised them never to forget their roots and give back to help others get opportunities like they have. Gitonga called the meeting an inspiration.
“It was a great opportunity because we’ve never met our vice president in Kenya,” Nelson said. “Now having met this great man in this country it was like an achievement.”
Mwai said he liked how Biden has not forgotten his beginnings.
“I was impressed in that he treats himself like an ordinary man and not like a special person even though he is in position of power,” said Mwai.
During their U.S. trip, the students saw various landmarks in Washington D.C. and took a trip to New York.
“People here are kind and the place is much more developed and organized in terms of administration, buildings and so on. The subways, everything is amazing,” said Gitonga.
Both were surprised by how much the United States keeps its history alive. This especially impacted them when they visited the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City.
“It brought back a feeling of how Americans really come together in times of difficulties and they help one another,” said Gitonga.
“(Americans) don’t bury what took place in the past, just like Kenyans do,” said Mwai. “Our history is very short, but it’s buried.”
Both students are finishing their final year at St. Mary’s and are set to graduate in November.
Bro. Dominic Jordan, St. Mary’s current Financial and Development Director who served as Headmaster for 10 years, and Rich McKay, Development Volunteer, traveled with the students to the U.S. for an education tour of the east coast. They also visited some of their twin schools. These Lasallian schools are twinned with St. Mary’s: Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, NY; Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, CA; Helias High School in Jefferson City, MO; La Salle Institute in Troy, NY; San Miguel Academy in Newburgh, NY; St. Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, CA; St. Peter’s Boys High School in Staten Island, NY; St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, RI; St. Raymond High School in Bronx, NY.
The students also visited Georgetown University.
From left to right: Richard McKay, St. Mary’s Development Volunteer; Nelson Gitonga;
Georgetown Basketball Coach John Thompson III; Dennis Mwai; Bro. Dominic Jordan,
St. Mary’s Financial and Development Director, former Headmaster.
Gitonga and Mwai with Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, General Councilor,
during a visit to the Christian Brothers Conference office in D.C.