Friday, January 20, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
No buckets in the night, as everyone has recovered from our recent bouts of illness. We got up early today to go visit a secondary school in the village in which we have been working. The idea to visit the school came up in our very first meeting with village leaders and has been discussed regularly ever since that day. Finally, we made arrangements to go there today.
The SMC students were mildly freaking out going in because Jesse and Shawny had made plans with the headmaster to have them teach classes in pairs. No one was totally confident about lesson plans and everyone was unsure about how we would be received in general.
Two of the girls from the school (called Salcayo Mosha) came to meet us at camp to walk us through a series of shortcuts (through cornfields, over rivers, and, of course UP HILLS!). We showed up a bit winded and sweaty but the sight of the eager teenagers who were jazzed about our arrival helped us recover quickly.
We were marched onto a stage in front of all of the students where we each introduced ourselves and gave a short greeting. Then we met briefly with the teachers over tea until we headed off to our paired teaching assignments. Each pair had different plans, most of which involved icebreakers and then questions and answers about the U.S. education system vs. the Tanzania one. Some involved songs or dances. No matter what plans we made, each class responded totally differently.
Some students were shy and quiet, hesitant to speak up for any reason. Others were bouncing off the walls to ask questions about U.S. American history, about boyfriends and girlfriends, about our impressions of Tanzania, and more. No matter what we planned or what the climate of each class was, things turned out great! We each had great experiences, even if all of the experiences were totally different. When the bell rang to start recess, we were all abuzz with stories from inside our individual classrooms.
We then did a series of photo ops and learned about the school’s needs going into the future. Clearly, the headmaster and the rest of the staff hope that we will return to work on a project with them. Who knows . . . ?
We went home for lunch and packed a few things before heading back down to the fence site (our last time on that LONG walk) for “closing ceremonies” with the villagers, the local Rotary Club reps (including Simon), and some local political figures. There was much welcoming, thanking, and praising, as well as a number of invitations (from all directions) to see each other again. We said goodbye to many of our local friends, then headed out to walk the shortest possible shortcut (still about a 20 minute hill walk) for our final time this trip.
We packed some more then headed off to the local Council member’s (Stanley’s) house to enjoy one of the greatest homecooked meals that any of us might ever eat. His family welcomed us into their home and provided an incredible feast of banana soup, pork, rice, beans, spinach, sauce, handmade chapati (bread), and loads of fruit, tea, and coffee. It was heavenly.
We also got to meet Stanley’s lovely daughter, whose name is Happiness (Happy for short). She is 17 years old and wiser and more poised than most of us. She is a great conversationalist and a brilliant student who will go very far. We hope to see her in the United States someday, especially if she finds a way to attend a university there. We hope so.
We said goodbye to Stanley's family and to our dear friend Wilson, who has been with us almost every day since we arrived. Other than Juma and Kenja, Wilson is our most constant companion. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs helped us make our break from him and the rest.
We then came home for the big packing push, as we are awakening at 5:00 a.m. to prepare to leave for our safari. We won’t take all of our goods with us so we have to sort through what we are taking and what we are leaving until we reconnect with the “left behind” bags at the airport. As none of us is terribly experienced at assessing safari needs (though three of us have been on them before), we are having trouble figuring out which stuff belongs in which pile.
On our four-day safari, we are camping for two nights in our tents and then staying in a lodge the night before we fly back to the U.S. Our trip will take 35 hours of travel time so we thought we might benefit from a good rest before we begin.
We are about to shut down for the night over here, as 5:00 a.m. is not very far away. The vets of the recent Haiti trips will be glad to hear that the power went out right in the middle of our biggest packing frenzy. Headlamps were, of course, at the ready.
Here’s hoping we can post from the wild over the next few days . . . !