The Last Day of School

May 28th, 2010

Today, we went to the Engarenarok Lutheran Tetra School one last time to say our goodbyes. I am very sad to leave the children, but am happy that I got to experience this for at least a short time. Leaving Tanzania is bittersweet, and although I have been very homesick lately, I have still enjoyed every day that was spent in this beautiful country. This morning, I got to say goodbye to the teachers, headmaster, and all the precious students. I was told that I was welcome to come back at any time and I hope that is something that will one day be a reality. The students are testing all this week, so we were not able to stay long, but that was probably for the best. I cannot wait to send the school some of the wonderful pictures that I took of the students, especially during kickball.

After the Lutheran School, we were taken to visit the Assumption School, where four of my classmates have been working this past month. I was able to sit through one of the French classes and talk to some of the teachers about the school and their careers. In comparison, the two schools are very similar, with the Lutheran School being slightly more strict. The teaching methods were the same and the teacher/student set up was the same. The students were equally respectful and I really enjoyed even the short amount of time that I spent there. Since it was nearing the end of the school year, there was a long mass that took place while I was there. I stayed behind in the staff room to talk to the teachers a while longer, but toward the end of the mass, I heard a very familiar sound. From all the way across the campus, I heard hundreds of voices screaming our battle cry: WAAAARRRRRR EAGLE!!!! HEY!!!!  

-Kelly B.

Education Outlook

May 28th, 2010

I have truly enjoyed my time here spent in the schools and with these incredible children who I have grown so attached to. I had a lot of concerns about traveling here and a lot of anxiety that was focused on how I would handle myself in the classroom. This was my first try at teaching an actual class conceptual lessons and I was really surprised at the amount of fun and ease that was attached to it. I’ve always had teaching in the back of my mind and this just really sparked my interest even more. Although, there were language barriers from time to time, we were still able to communicate in a question/answer sort of way. I tried to use as much student input as possible and was really surprised at the outcome and how much these children really wanted to learn.

We were always so busy in the classrooms and I never got a chance to ask some of the students the questions that I wanted. I wanted to know what they thought of America, the importance of education, and the difference between education in America as compared to Tanzania. It is difficult for me to compare the similarities and differences since I lack a great amount of classroom experience. I do realize, however, that there are methods of teaching that are effective and others that are not. If I could throw out a method, it would be the talk and chalk, or the repeat after me. If I could push for a method, it would be one that involved the student in every aspect of the learning process and was student focused, instead of teacher focused.

Every classroom and teacher is different, however, and there are many ways that I could improve the methods that I decided to teach in. I am very lucky to have spent some time with the wonderful teachers who accompanied me on this study abroad trip. I learned a lot not only from the teachers that I observed in the classroom, but also from the students who are with me who have strived everyday to be better teachers. We have completed what we can and hopefully laid our own foundation for our improvement as educators.

-Kelly B.

Samaritan Village Orphanage

May 28th, 2010

Today, we went to the schools to teach in the morning and then traveled around 25 minutes out of Arusha to the Samaritan Village Orphanage. There are many orphanages in Tanzania and we passed around seven or eight just on our way there. We have been lucky enough to spend time at two very special orphanages during our time here. Our first one was St. Joseph’s Orphanage where we got to meet some amazing children and hear Sister Chrispina sing the cake song. These children were primary school age and welcomed us right into the classroom. They were all very happy despite what little that they had, and I feel that I learned a lot from those children in the small amount of time that I spent there.

The Samaritan Village Orphanage was definitely a challenge for me. The special thing about this place was that not only were there school age children, but also many babies who had been abandoned and left by their families in dumpsters or worse. The stories that I hear of these children and what they have been through always breaks my heart and I want nothing more than to take each one to a family who will give the love and care that they deserve. The older children were amazing. They had so much fun just playing kickball and running around without a care in the world. You would never be able to tell that these children had experienced more pain and neglect in their childhood than most of us do even as adults. The older children watched over the younger children like one very large family, and it was wonderful to see them relate to each other in this way.

After talking with Josephat, the director of the orphanage, we were all taken down a hallway and into a room that was full of cribs. There was a baby/toddler age child in each crib, and this is where I met Elijah. Elijah was a one year old boy who put his arms up and came straight to me without any hesitation. He was so happy just to be comforted and held and I could tell that he didn’t get very much attention. He was very small, had beautiful dark brown eyes and a very sweet smile. We were at the orphanage for around three hours and Elijah never left my side. When I tried to put him down to play, he cried. When I tried to give him to someone else to hold, he cried. He was comfortable being in someone’s arms and he didn’t want that to end. I really enjoyed holding him the entire time and thought that I would be okay when it was time to go. I took him back to his crib so the staff could get him ready for bath time. He screamed and cried as I walked out the door. A few minutes later, I brought another baby in for bath time, and Elijah recognized me right away and started crying again. This is something that brought me to tears instantly and I knew that I would never forget him. I must admit that this was my most special experience here in Tanzania. It showed me the reality of this place and children that I had been overlooking this entire time. It also gave me ideas for my own future and possibly adopting one day.

-Kelly B.

Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater

May 27th, 2010

                        What an amazing four days I experienced in the Serengeti! Friday morning, we left the Outpost at 8:00am and began our three hour drive past the Ngorogoro Crater and into the Serengeti. Serengeti is a Maasai word meaning “endless plains” and is an absolutely beautiful site to see. The description is perfect in that when you look in any direction, the scenery and fields reach all the way to sunset. I got to experience a sinus cold on the trip and it was almost difficult for me to enjoy the first day of safari. I was, coughing, sneezing, and couldn’t find my voice ANYWHERE!!! But lucky for me, my cold was slightly better by the next day and I was able to really enjoy all the awesome animals! The roof of the jeep comes off and you are able to stand on the seat to get the best view!!! This was so much fun and I basically stood up in a car for four days straight. This is also something that WILL give you bruises on your hips, no matter how many ways you try to avoid this…just know that you can’t do it.

The two lodges that we stayed in were luxury at its finest. The food was amazing, the buildings’ architecture was beautiful, and we got to use warm water for the majority of the time which was fabulous. On the first day of safari, we drove around all day and then in the middle of the Serengeti, the Seronera Lodge just pops up out of nowhere. On the first morning, I awoke to find a family of monkeys sitting on my window seal, and they all decided to pose for some awesome pictures.  We stayed there for two nights and did our animal watching in the Serengeti until Sunday when we made our descent into the Ngorogoro Crater. We spent the night in the extremely luxurious Ngorogoro Lodge that overlooked the crater and revealed the breathtaking scenery. We could see elephants from the top, but they looked like little puppies roaming around from that distance. On the last night, we could hear some pretty intense roaring outside of the window, which we mistakenly thought were the roars of lions. In reality, a family of buffalos decided to have play time long enough to wake us up and creep us all out.  

 This trip, we were all lucky enough to see the Big Five. This includes elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos and rhinos. The President of Tanzania was also on the Serengeti at the same time as us because he was introducing 6 new rhinos into the conservation. I am so glad that we got to see a mother rhino and her baby. We also saw gazelles, giraffes, crocs, hyenas, warthogs, and miles and miles of wildebeasts and zebras. They all seemed to be too close for comfort for me, but it was still an awesome experience. It is important that when you need to “check the tire pressure” or use the restroom, that you scan the area for lions or anything else hazardous to your safety before you actually “go.” When eating lunch, DO NOT let your food out of your sight because there is no guarantee that a little hungry monkey or bird won’t come down from a tree and snatch it. If you leave your room, please remember to close your windows…or else the resident monkeys will come and have a two second party searching for food and leave your room in a mess. And one last thing: if you hear about an elephant stepping on the main water line, then expect to not have water at all for the next few hours.

-Kelly

Education at First Glance

May 27th, 2010

Arusha, Tanzania is a very charming place filled with endless beautiful scenery, a booming downtown area, and many wonderful people who are ready to help you, regardless of the situation. I was placed in the Engarenarok Lutheran Tetra School and absolutely loved being with the children there. Previous to our travels, we studied that Tanzanian culture and obstacles facing the children here in the local schools. There are many differences in schools here when compared to schools in the United States. The teachers, the students, and the schedule are very different, but also the same in some aspects. Kiswahili is the main language in this area and serves as the foundation for most languages in Africa. It is recorded that there are 1400 languages in just 51 countries. Education varies from school to school as well. Students who are on the poorer side must attend public schools, meaning that the only language of instruction that they receive is spoken in Kiswahili. Children who are slightly better off may choose to pay to go to a private school, where the language of instruction is English. It’s not to say that one group is receiving a better education than the other group, but there are some language barriers that we have been anticipating and experiencing in our time here.

One of the problems associated with only English speaking schools, is that English is a second language for both the students and the teachers. There is a huge debate on whether teachers should speak in English or in the native tongue. I see this as being one of the main issues in education associated with this area for the learning process in general. Sometimes, in the classroom, the teacher will speak in English and the children may or may not understand the language, but they could still understand the concepts if they had just been spoken in Kiswahili. Other times, when grading homework, the student may have answered the question correctly in Kiswahili, but was still marked incorrect for not being written in English. So, what is really being assessed in the classroom?

Science classes utilize the talk and chalk method with little student interaction. However, one good thing that I have noticed is that the science classes make the material relevant to the student’s everyday life, and this helps to spark an interest in the science class involvement, which has recently been declining. There are so many solutions and opinions lurking behind every corner, but when will some of these plans be put into action and what is the right path? And what can we do as a country and as teachers to help make this a better learning environment for these children? These are questions that I have asked myself many times in hopes of seeing the big picture or finding a small piece that I have left out. I can only hope that my time here has been beneficial to these children and that they are able to learn more about themselves and what makes them special to my heart.

-Kelly

SAFARI :)

May 26th, 2010

Friday morning came soon enough and we were lugging our packed suitcases to the front of the Outpost to be stored for the weekend so they could rent out the rooms while we were gone on safari for the weekend. I have never had to pack, unpack and repack more than I have this month. Ill be glad to have a closet and drawers full of clean clothes and a washer and dryer nearby- this is one of the few things I have missed the most. Anyways, we all split into 4 safari jeeps for the day-long drive towards and through the Serengeti National Park. I rode with Ashley, Emily, Kelly, and Jill, and the first couple hours were pretty quiet and slightly uneventful, so of course my mind just spins out of control thinking about things while driving and watching the African countryside fly by my window

Anyways, the plan was to drive all the way past the Ngorogoro crater and through some of the Serengeti, to reach our lodge in the Serengeti that we would stay for two nights. We would then come back and stay one more night at a lodge in the Ngorogoro crater, go down in the crater Monday and spend some time animal watching before making the short couple hour drive home. So Friday around lunchtime we reached the rim of the crater, and got a taste of what we would be seeing more later- it is so beautiful- and even started seeing some animals! The Ngorogoro crater was formed but a volcano that collapsed millions of years ago, and is now filled with an abundance of African wildlife. Of course there are baboon everywhere, and then when we stopped at a campsite for lunch, a stork that was probably almost the size of some of the shorter girls on the trip swooped down and poked around the whole time we ate our lunches, sprawled out across a huge dead tree log.

After the decent down the other side of the crater, the scenery changed quite a but and thankfully the previously cloudy and chilly weather cleared up and warmed up. Surrounding the crater, we drove through the three different landscapes, which led to the Serengeti. The rim of the crater is considered the highlands, and is much damper and colder. We then passed through the acacia woodlands that was slightly drier, filled with diverse types of acacia where we started seeing tons of punda milia (zebra) and a few twiga (giraffe). Finally, we reached the lowlands, or the savannah, on a dusty road that led is straight into Serengeti National Park. The savannah had almost no vegetation, just grasslands that were literally filled with Thompson gazelle and punda milia, and a horizon that never ended….anyways here is the rest. Safari Adventures via lista:

  • The horizon at times never ends, and at times it crowded with acacia tree, sausage tree, and monstrous boulders all flanked by distant mountaintops
  • The animals you will without a doubt see a TON of: gazelle (Thompson and grant), zebra, wildebeest, baboons, monkeys, giraffe, hippos, hyena and a ton of different birds including flamingo in the crater
  • The big five we were lucky enough to see entirely over our 4 day safari (in order of viewing): buffalo, leopard, lion, elephant, and rhino
  • While viewing a cheetah within about 4 feet and the remaining gazelle after it dined on it, don’t make noise. It is the cheetah’s siesta time.
  • The Serengeti Lodge is ridiculously nice- resort style complete with awesome food, pool, sun deck, the local critters scampering about everywhere- baboon, monkey, the resident python, lizards, and rock hyrax, and the noises all night from the wild animals surrounding us (hippo, hyena, baboon, etc)
  • Keep the sliding glass door in your room closed and locked to avoid monkey visitors who reached for and apparently are well aware of how to open a sliding glass door.
  • When having a stare off contest with the monkey on the other side of the glass panel, they can lift their tale and relieve themselves making a mess on your deck. Automatic win for the monkey.
  • Just because the resort is so nice, does NOT mean a herd of elephants won’t bust the water tank located 28 km away, and therefore deplete the entire lodge grounds of any water supply for ya know, showers after being dust covered from safari or perhaps flushing toilets if the African foods just happen to get to ya…
  • You will get dust covered on safari. And sunburned it you aren’t careful- mom I reapplied sunscreen often, sometimes 5 and 6 times a day, and therefore no burn for me! (at least not from safari…)
  • The pool is cold and relaxing during the day before an afternoon game trail, and makes for a refreshing shower in the evening too
  • If given the incredible opportunity to watch an entire pride of lions (male lion included) feast on a wildebeest within 10 feet of your jeep, just watch and enjoy, as we were able to! No, this is not the time to make a short call  (slang for go pee) or a long drop (poo) right outside the car (which we didn’t, just thought I would emphasize the importance of that).
  • Battle scars are inevitable when standing, sitting, swaying, etc in the jeep whilst in movement. My backbone and Stacy and Claire’s hipbones will prove it to you.
  • Going to the platform in the sky at 6am to watch the sunrise is highly recommended. Walking down the slippery stairs to get a different view, not so much. Battle scar #2 entire back of forearm swollen and bruised.

Thats all for now folks! Lala Salama—–Laura

The Samaritan Village

May 26th, 2010

The chemistry lesson did not go as well as I had hoped. The students had memorized Le Chateliers Principle, but when it came to applying the concept, they all seemed to have a really hard time. One student was even able to stand up and say the principle word for word out loud. The lesson was on applying Le Chatelier’s Principle to the industrial world and how chemical engineers can produce more products by changing the factors of the chemical equilibrium. I hope that this material will not be on their test because I was not able to finish the entire lesson and they really did not seem to learn anything.

After school, we went to the Samaritan Village orphanage. There seems to be a lot of orphanages around Arusha; I counted around 7 or 8 on our way to the Samaritan Village. I later learned that in order to adopt a child in Tanzania, the parents have to live in Tanzania for at least one year. While this is a good idea and really shows the dedication of parents, it seems that with so many orphans they would make this time period a little shorter. When we got the Samaritan Village, Josephate, the person who organized and is responsible for the orphanage told us that many of the children have been abandoned or found in really bad situations. He said that many of the children are mentally and/or physically handicap due to the maltreatment or lack of care they endured before being found. He showed us their newest arrival, a little baby boy who had to be in a specially heated room so that he could recover. We were then able to play with the other children outside on their playground and inside the common area. There were about six or seven little toddler babies and about 10-12 four-six year olds; they were all so adorable, sweet, and so excited to have a bunch of people to play with. There was this one really hyper little boy named Everest who ran around and had so much energy; he would throw up the ball and then we would compete to see who could get it the fastest. It was really sad to have to leave; I really wanted to take them all with me. Kelly had a particularly hard time because this one little boy named Elijah attached himself to her and wouldn’t let Kelly put him down or let anyone else but Kelly hold him. All the kids were so sweet and I really hope that they can find good homes.

Things we will miss about Tanzania:

May 26th, 2010

May 26, 2010, 7:35 AM Arusha, Tanzania/ 1:36 AM Auburn, Alabama

  1. Being greeted by the students every morning as they stand and say “Gooooood mooorrrning teeeecha”.
  2. Seeing the amazing wildlife.
  3. Being like celebrities wherever we go.
  4. Most things being cheaper.
  5. Turning your key in to the front desk and coming back with your room clean and your bed made.
  6. The children.
  7. Getting to school at 8 and leaving at 12.
  8. The awesome dinners at the Outpost.
  9. Being able to stand through the roof while driving in the Serengeti.
  10. Simon being at the Outpost to look after the girls.
  11. The Purdue people who we only knew in Tanzania. (Boiler up!)
  12. Being with people who are happy with what little they have. In Tanzania, we can really say that money does not make happiness.

animals & a bittersweet goodbye

May 25th, 2010

So, this past weekend was such an amazing experience!! I know I have said that about everything that has happened here but honestly, it has all been some of the most amazing experiences I could have ever imagined.  On safari, we saw giraffes, elephants, zebra, buffalo, wildebeast, gazelle, lions, cheetah, leopard, rhino, hippos, warthogs, hyenas, a ton of cool birds, and many more!  Our guides taught us about the BIG 5, which are supposedly the 5 animals that are the hardest and best to see and you are considered to have a very successful safari if you get to see all of them. The BIG 5 are the rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, and elephant, and we saw ALL of them!!!! We didn’t think we were going to get to see a rhino because there are very few here. The president of Tanzania was staying in the Serengeti at the same time we were because they just transported 6 new rhinos from South Africa to the Serengeti and it was this huge event.  But we didnt think we were going to see any because they hadn’t released the 6 new ones yet.  So anyways, we were all really excited because our guides told us we got SUPER lucky to get to experience seeing and watching all 5 of the special animals! :)
Then…something really funny and kind of scary happened to me.  We stopped for lunch at this hippo pool and were eating our boxed lunches on top of the jeeps. The guides had told us to either stay inside of the jeep while we ate or hang on real tight to our food if we were going to eat outside because the birds would come down and try to grab it from us.  I didn’t take them very seriously.  So as I’m taking a bite of chicken, this HUGE eagle comes down and snatches my entire chicken right out of my hand!!  It was so scary cause there were like wings all in my face and I already hate birds to begin with!  It was really funny though.  So all in all, this past weekend was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had and I will never forget it.

Today was my last day at the Lutheran school I’ve been teaching at and it was really sad to say my goodbyes! :( We are teaching at a different school this week because the kids in the primary school at Lutheran are taking exams and testing all week so we would just be like proctoring tests. So it was really tough to say goodbye especially to my teacher i’ve been working with, Martha, because I really grew to love her over the past few weeks.  I will be missing her very much in the states, but we exchanged email addresses and hopefully we will keep in touch.

I cant believe I leave to come home in like 3 days..that is crazy. I am really going to miss it here in this amazing place but I am ready to see everyone at home at the same time. I already have an ongoing list in my journal of things I can’t wait to eat & drink when I get home.  I am sending my mom a list in a few days so she can have the fridge and pantry stocked when i get home! I have never craved a REAL diet coke more in my entire life!! (here they have coke lite..and its quite different).

Tomorrow, I am going to another orphanage in the morning at 9. I am excited because this is a different orphanage than the first one we went to and they have mostly babies instead of toddlers. I think it will be really difficult to experience, seeing that these babies don’t have any parents to care for them, but I’m excited to get to play with them and provide service for the people that run the orphanage.

I am going to make the most of the next few days here and just enjoy every last minute in this amazing country.  Man, am I going to miss it.

Kristen

Things we’ve learned in Tanzana: Volume 3

May 25th, 2010
  1. ‘Tis the seasoning!
  2. It is possible to get three men on a bike.
  3. Schedules are subject to change.
  4. When you think you see an animal, don’t be surprised if it is just a rock, tree, or dirt mound.
  5. If an elephant steps on a water pipe, you will lose water for a few days.
  6. Don’t be alarmed by monkeys jumping on your window in the morning, and when you think you hear a lion roar outside you window, it’s probably just a couple buffalo playing.
  7. If you ever need to say random sentences in Swahili, just ask Rukoeli.
  8. Even after being here a month, it’s still hard to remember which way to look when crossing the road.
  9. Sing-a-longs in the car while on safari are always welcome and encouraged.
  10. When the say watch for eagle that will steal your food, they mean it! (Kristen and Emily)
  11. Who knew standing out of the sunroof of a jeep could be so hard on your hips.
  12. When you see a donkey in the road, slowing down is not an option. You just swerve.
  13. “Checking the tire pressure” is code for “I have to use the restroom!”
  14. You realize you’ve been here for a while when you get protective of your hotel when other big groups come in.
  15. Things you will miss when you leave: Simon, driving on the wrong side of the road, “Goooodd Mooorning Teeeecha!”, being welcomed everywhere, and  inexpe