Just a bit more than 4 weeks ago when leaving for Africa I thought I knew what to expect and what the next month would be like. If I had to grade the accuracy of my expectations to reality I would give them a “D”. As high as my expectations were, my experience went far beyond.
The first lasting impression I have is the generosity of the teaching staff at Tetra Lutheran. They took us out for roasted goat last Friday, on the last day of school they presented us with gifts and a prepared a special lunch to tell us goodbye. It is not something that I would expect from a group of people that even though they have a respectable profession, most do not earn enough to keep a personal bank account open.
The second lasting impression would be the sincere love and fondness of the students for us. On the last day at school we spent hours playing, talking, and saying goodbye to the students. While I thought the 3 hours would be enough, the goodbyes could have lasted twice that long, as every student wanted a hug and to personally say goodbye. The general conversation that I had when saying goodbye was only one word, “tutonana”.
Monday the 20th I was prepared to teach my students find the missing number for addition and subtraction. I was also going to try something that my students have never done before. I wanted to try and give students a word problem dealing with finding the missing the number. I was prepared for students to not understand because I knew this would be way out of their box. I gave them this problem: “I have 8 pencils. There are 12 people in the class. How many more pencils do I need?” I wanted students to tell me that 8 + a number =12. I had students come up to the front of the class and actually hold the pencils in the math problem. We left an empty space between the 8 and the 12 because we needed another number there. It was really hard for them to grasp the concept of counting up. They only know to “cut” or take away. They always use sticks to either add or subtract. So I wanted to really try and get them to count up instead of “cutting sticks”. They did struggle with this but I am so glad that I did this problem with them so they could see something different.
Tuesday and Wednesday we did the same thing with find the missing number but I just gave them problems instead of another word problem. They did really well and I am so glad that I concentrated on find the missing number with subtraction because that is what they have the most trouble with.
Also on Wednesday, I tried a very sweet food at tea time that my teacher brought me. It is called visheti. It is almost like a small donut that is covered in sugar. It was so good but very filling! My math teacher, Rehma, also taught me a cheer that they say when they are really excited about something. They say “werra werra” and wave! It was so fun seeing them do this and they wanted me to do it as well!
Thursday was a busy day for me. I taught all morning and then one class after tea. I taught math in two classes and science in two classes as well. In science, I did an activity to help students learn how you can and can not get HIV/AIDS. I cut out construction paper cards and wrote one way you can or cannot get HIV/AIDS on each card and passed them out to each student. They had to read their card aloud and then tell me if that was a way you can or cannot get HIV/AIDS. They loved participating and holding those cards. It was different from what they normally do because my activity didn’t involve copying down work on the board. We just talked about it and afterwards they wrote down homework. My teacher fully enjoyed my lesson and really learned a lot from me about HIV/AIDS as well. In math, I still did more review with finding the missing number with subtraction and addition. Many of my students did such a better job with their work.
Friday was just a review day for math on addition, subtraction, and finding the missing number. Friday is also sports day and this time I was able to stay and play with many of the students. They were playing soccer, jumping rope, running, and playing catch. I wanted to play catch with some of the students so I threw the ball up in the air and they would all try and catch it. I loved seeing their smiling faces when they caught the ball.
Today, Monday the 27th, was a great day as well. In the morning, I had the privilege of going to my teachers school that she built and started at her house. She took me to her home and walked around with me and showed me everything. Her school was only two rooms so far with only 10 students. It was such a good experience to see her school and to see her plans of building a bigger school. I also received a dress that my teacher made me. She took my measurements about a week ago and she made it that fast! It is such a beautiful gift and I will always remember my teacher. I am so grateful for her!
This past week went really well and I am getting so sad that this week is my last week here in Africa. I am going to miss my students so much but I know they will really succeed because my teacher has learned a lot from me.
Our first view of Arusha was walking off the plane at night and into the airport…in the pouring rain. It really wasn’t that bad though! I kind of got caught up in the moment of finally arriving in Africa (after 24 hours) and was too busy looking around to notice that I was soaking wet. We then got our luggage and walked out to the trucks to take us to the Outpost.
My first impression of the people is that they are all very nice. All the people in town stared at us as we walked around Arusha the first day and we had a ton of guys come up to us and try and sell us things (like paintings and bracelets). In the last few days, we have had time to actually talk and have conversations with some of the locals, which is really cool. They are just as interested in our culture as we are in theirs. They also love to teach us Swahili, which is a blast!
My first impression of the city is that it is more developed than I thought it would be. I honestly thought we would be seeing a lot of shacks and collapsing buildings in the main part of the city. Instead we saw a city that had traffic, restaurants, and stores. It wasn’t until I walked to school the first day that I saw a part of Arusha that looked like what I thought Africa would look like. We saw shacks that people lived in, run-down buildings, and trash in the streets. It was a really overwhelming sight and it still hasn’t sunk in that this is life for people who live here.
Overall, it has been an eye-opening experience so far and we’ve only been here for 3 days. I can’t wait for what we will see and learn in the next 3 weeks!
Getting off of the plane in Tanzania was a surreal moment for me. I could not fully comprehend that I was in a different country, let alone Africa. The drive to the Outpost was so dark, which also did not help me think that I am here. I have always dreamed to visit Africa and still I cannot believe that I am here and teaching these kids.
When I used to think of Africa, I thought of open plains with animals roaming or flat land with little villages scattered through out. I did not think of cities that are busy and with a lot of people. Many of these views are because of movies that I have seen, Walking around Arusha really opened my mind to the fact that even if we believe something is only one way, there is usually another side to it. My vision of Africa has changed drastically in just this short time that we have been here. Knowing that my view of this country was not completely accurate makes me wonder about how my students here view America. I hope to open their eyes about the many aspects of American culture as much as they have opened mine.
The schools in Africa are very different compared to what I believed they would be. The students love to learn and will do anything to be the best at what they do. Coming in I thought they would be similar to the students back at home, but so far they have proved me wrong. I highly enjoy working with them, even if it is at a slower pace then I am used to, and I cannot wait to bring everything I have learned back home.
Tanzania is EXTREME! Holy smokes, the city is definitely not what I was expecting. Actually this whole environment and atmosphere is not what I was expecting! I was expecting there to be dirt roads, a pretty small quiet city…this was not the case! Arusha reminded me of the streets in Honduras. Where there were tons of people, people just standing around not doing a whole lot, trying to talk to you and SELL YOU things. These salesmen are pretty extreme and it is extremely exhausting to continuously say ‘Hapana asante sana’. They don’t take no very seriously and I guess being a westerner we don’t say no that harshly. They also remember your face and name when it accidentally slipped.
Walking through the city was a little bit nerve racking to me for numerous reasons. One reason is that the roads here should not be considered as holes. There are tons of pot holes! Actually, they are more like big pits all over the road. In our first adventure into town, it was rainy. Due to the rain and the pits in the roads, our eyes were mostly drawn to the road so we wouldn’t trip. Also, there were so many men just standing on the side of the street watching us go by. This was a bit nerve racking since I didn’t know much Swahili when they would say something to us.
My senses have been heightened by all of the new things. From smells, sounds or sights, everything that I am taking in is new. I am having so many different experiences and am so excited for what to come!
The first we went into town was Monday. It was such a different but amazing experience. The sounds, people, smells, and commotion of the town was so thrilling. I was just admiring everything and taking it all in. All of the cars and Dala Dalas drive on the different side…which freaked me out at first but I will eventually get used to that! They drive really fast and pass other cars whenever they want. The Dala Dalas are like taxis but they are vans that are loaded with however many people they can pick up! Sometimes we see people hanging out of the window trying to pick up others who need a ride. They will yell and whistle to see if someone needs a ride. I am lucky to go to the school that I go to because it is farther away and we get to ride the Dala Dalas home! All 8 of us get packed into the Dala Dalas and ride home!
There are tons and tons of people that are out on the streets walking, selling, and just hanging out. All of the people are so friendly and greetings are so important here. If we walk past someone and they greet us, we need to greet them back. I am getting better at greeting people in Swahili. We smile and wave and a lot of people are interested in us. They wonder where we come from and want to talk to us. The men here mostly are the ones hanging out or just relaxing on the street. The women are walking around with buckets on their heads that are full of either corn, beans, nuts, or bananas. There are women that are sitting on the side of the road with little fires with corn being roasted and other veggies. All of the women wear skirts. Another interesting thing about town is that we have seen a lot of Maasai mean walking around in their Shukas. They are wrapped in a cloth material that are usually red and blue.
Finally, town was actually overwhelming because of all of the people coming up to us trying to sell us items. We went to exchange money and then the town people were waiting for us outside of the exchange shop. They call the girls “sista” and just talk about how their items are so unique and special. I didn’t buy anything from them that day because I wanted to just admire the people and practicing my Swahili with them.
I just can’t believe that I am here in Africa and everyone is so friendly. I really love town and I love thinking about how different or similar it is to America. Overall, town is basically a huge shop where everyone is selling things in order to make a living.
Jambo all the way from Arusha, Tanzania! What a trip it has been so far! After many hours of traveling we are finally here. We landed at Kilimanjaro Airport around 10 pm Tanzania time on Sunday night and following that got on a bus to drive to Arusha. The bus ride experience was quite a welcoming! Although it was at night, I took a lot from the experience. From the bus we could see and hear and smell all different things. We passed animals and people walking on the street, which gave us the feel that we were definitely someplace new.
Arriving at The Outpost Lodge, I was very impressed! Going to bed that night I could not wait to explore our new home and get a feel for where we would be living for a month. I woke up to a magical place! Not only was the lodge very clean and beautiful, the staff members are very friendly and definitely welcoming of our presence. The first day in Africa we spent time venturing out in Arusha. After enjoying lunch at The Blue Heron, which was so delicious, we traveled around town to a local market and a Conga shop. Shopping in Tanzania is definitely a new experience and one I wouldn’t ever be able to forget. The people are so concerned with your business they will follow you around town and more than once I was pulled in to a deal! At the Conga shop we experienced a power outage and it went dark while we were shopping. It was interesting to me how the locals just carried on about their business like it was something they were so used to. I can only imagine in America the chaos something like that would cause and it caused me to think about how we take advantage of our resources much too often at home.
Another thing I must talk about is the people of Arusha! Never have I felt an audience quite that large. Anywhere we went in town looks were directed our way. Not in a negative way though, much more of a wondering stare. The people were also very welcoming of us being there and many were willing to greet us as we walked passed them. Hearing Kiswahili everywhere was definitely a culture shock, but a pleasant one!
Can’t wait for more adventures!