Ami Irmen, Associate Professor of English at Kishwaukee College, has edited a book
that directly aids female Kenyan students in achieving an education.
“Voices of Jane Adeny Memorial School” was released on Amazon in April and explores
memoir writing by the students at Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS) in the summer
JAMS is a not-for-profit institution in Muhoroni, Kenya, that focuses on providing
learning opportunities for Kenyan girls who often face obstacles in completing their
education. On average, school fees can cost up to a quarter of a family’s earnings
for one child, and if Kenyan families cannot afford to send all their children, it
is often the girls who are taken out of the classroom. JAMS was founded by Teresa
Wasonga and Andrew Otieno to help address this issue. Both Wasonga and Otieno live
in DeKalb and work as educators. Irmen said she was introduced to Wasonga when she
took a feminist theory class at Northern Illinois University, where Wasonga was a
guest speaker. Wasonga shared about the school in Kenya, which struck a chord with
In 2014, Irmen visited the school in Kenya and helped lead the curriculum “Memoir
Writing for Empowerment.” The stories the students wrote went on to be the main component
of the book, with all proceeds directly benefitting scholarship opportunities for
future students. Along with teaching memoir during her trip to Kenya, Irmen teaches
composition, developmental English and creative writing at Kishwaukee College with
a focus on globalizing her classroom by providing diverse readings to her students.
“JAMS students told the stories they wished to tell in their own voices,” Irmen wrote.
“Students were given the option to publish within this collection, and they were excited
knowing that their work would go on to help other girls who wished to study at JAMS.”
The stories were then transcribed and edited with the goal of preserving each writer’s
individual voice. While the publishing process took several years, it offered an opportunity
for the authors to follow up with the students who wrote memoirs and learn about their
successes in their professional lives following their time at JAMS.
“Voices of Jane Adeny Memorial School” is available on Amazon, with all proceeds
going to the JAMS scholarship fund. To learn more about JAMS, visit www.jamskenya.org.
To learn more about Kishwaukee College, visit kish.edu.