Things I have learned so far

This past week was a great week at school and in town. So many people are recognizing us on the street and school has been going a lot smoother.

At school, I have learned so many interesting things about how students learn, Tanzanian culture, and things about my teachers. This week, I have taught math and science. In the math lessons, I taught how to add and subtract vertically and horizontally. The students learn in a way of counting sticks together (for addition) and cutting sticks (for subtraction). For science this week, I taught about sitting and walking proper, and HIV/AIDS. I have learned that the language barrier is the hardest thing about teaching here. I try to ask the students questions about the math or science and they only respond with “yes”. I ask the questions in a different way, but the students still have a hard time answering what I am asking them. I have tried different ways of getting responses and it has worked great. I modeled first how to do something, then I would say, “tell me all together” and they would repeat what I just said. They understand better by choral response and I noticed that in their classwork notes. Also, I stepped out of the comfort zone of the students and did an activity that didn’t involve writing in their notebooks for classwork. The students will always learn a lesson for about 15-20 minutes and then they will copy the notes in their notebook. This copying process takes a very long time because they are such young students. I learned that they LOVE the individual attention by me so I tried a math activity that involved picking cards. I went to each students desk and had them pick a card. I would have 2 students pick one card at a time and then I would tell them to either add or subtract those two numbers. This was such a different experience for these students because they weren’t used to doing a classroom activity. I learned that my teacher wanted to really teach the way I did.

I have also learned a lot about Tanzanian culture by just talking to my math teacher, Rehma. She was asking me and telling me about differences or similarities in America. She first asked me if I was married and how marriage works in the USA. I told her that I wasn’t married but had a boyfriend for a long time. She told me that usually women get married here at a young age and then have kids. She has 3 children 12, 8, and 4 months and she has been teaching for over 10 years at Lutheran. Then we talked about beggars on the street here and beggars on the street in the US. She told me that we had to be careful because some of the beggars use the money for drugs or other bad habits. She also told me that those people will sit out on the streets and just wait for people to give them money. Most of the women will cook corn, beans, and nuts and try to sell those to make money for their families. Then we talked about religion here and in the US. She said most of the people she knows are either Lutheran or Roman Catholic. They have certain times during the day for prayer where everyone goes to pray. She asked me if we had certain times and I just told her that I go to church on Sunday’s and other people can go to church more than once a week if it is offered. I also shared with her that we can pray when we need to pray, like when we need to ask for forgiveness, pray for meals, before bed, and for guidance. She was shocked to hear that we could pray whenever we needed too because their prayers are always scheduled. I learned so much about her culture and a little about Tanzanian culture last week that I am so interested in hearing more this coming up week!

On the street, we made friends with the locals who have been trying to sell us items at the beginning of the week and now they don’t try to sell us things anymore. They will help us cross the street because the streets are super crazy here! They will also ask us about Michigan and Obama. They are becoming our friends and they are really nice to everyone which makes us all feel more comfortable while walking. I just love the culture here in the streets and seeing how friendly people are. I learned a lot about the street life and how much people want to talk to us. I love being here with all the hustle and bustle of the city!

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