I think the hardest part about writing a blog entry is deciding where to start. In this case, I think I’ll start here near the end.
I’ve been in Tanzania for 3 months now, and the time has certainly flown by. I’m here in I guess a bit of a ‘double-role’. I came through MAD as a Teaching Intern and have been working (and living during the week) at MAD’s partner school, The Royal Junior School in Himo. It’s been here that I’ve been working to teach Secondary Science and also to collect participatory research for an Action Research project I’m working on as part of my dissertation for a Masters in Education. When not at the school, I’ve been ‘moonlighting’ as a MAD volunteer on weekends and getting to be a part of the programs and activities with MAD. It’s been great! Whether making a splash with the kids at the local pool while teaching them to swim, taking in the gorgeous scenery on Sunday afternoon hikes, getting excited for games and activities with the kids at the orphanage, or enjoying the treat of a delicious meal out on the town, the experience with MAD and the scene in Moshi has so much to offer.
With regards to my teaching time at The Royal School, it has been beyond enriching. Apart from getting to see the ‘MAD/Kili kids’ each day at school (they attend the Primary section) and enjoying lots of high fives and hugs, the insight I have gained from my experience at the school and working with the Secondary students has been incredible. I have come to appreciate so many new dimensions to the teaching and learning dynamic (particularly from the perspective of within a developing nation). The research project I have been working on aims to improve issues of social justice in the field of community & classroom-based education, specifically working with programs of empowerment, leadership development and life skills training for Tanzanian youth. Despite a variety of differences in schooling that permeate from the socio-cultural and socio-economic context of Tanzania, the sense of community at The Royal School, and the warmth and sense of welcoming all visitors receive continues to inspire me (‘Karibu sana’ is more than just a phrase here with Mrs. Ndjike). Mrs. Ndjike (the Head of School), the administrative and support staff, and the teachers themselves are really working to create an environment of quality education and learning for the students. And the shining smiles on the students’ faces, along with the ‘Good Morning, Madam’ each day, was just as touching and inspiring on the last day as on the first.
In addition to an enriching experience working at the school, enjoying the comforts of the ‘MAD House’ and the variety of activities in town has also been a blast. Whether enjoying a delicious local dish with ‘Western flair’ prepared by Pena (the guest house manager), admiring the stunning views of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the backyard, or sharing a story and a good laugh with other volunteers, the guest house has come to feel like a home-away-from-home (but maybe with a few more power outages ;). Even Scooby-doo makes an appearance or two when the kids stay over for sleepovers, and that means there’s always lots of laughter!
Well, I’ve managed to do it again with this blog…I’ve rambled on without actually saying much ;D I hope if you’ve read it though, you’ve been able to connect with some part of it – even if only learning a new Swahili word. For a better understanding, Karibu Tanzania – come see for yourself! 😀