Thursday, May 30, 2013

I want to be a _________

A fun way to remember some of my students and their ambitions. What do Tanzanian students aspire to be? Here’s a sampling: though most say a teacher, nurse, or a doctor.








Friday, May 10, 2013

Peer Education Day

As a follow up post about the boys’ empowerment conference that we held a few weeks ago, last Friday we arranged for our students to facilitate their peer education day. We arranged with our school for all of our ninth grade students to gather in the largest hall at school Friday after school. We helped prep our boys the Wednesday before. Our boys stood up in front of their peers for two hours and taught about 160 students about goal settings, HIV and AIDS, and gender roles. Their presentation was absolutely wonderful and I was so proud of them. Some pictures below:


Fredy & Fanleck doing the Peel Banana energizer song


Fredy teaching about the difference between a long-term goal and a short-term goal


Nassoro teaching about the difference between HIV and AIDS


Victa doing the exercise of showing two males (or one male and spiderman) and two females and guessing which of the two has HIV. In the end, the students discuss how you can’t tell just by looking at two people who has HIV and therefore, if you are in a sexual relationship, you need to abstain or use protection.



George and John leading the lesson of the difference between sex and gender and identifying gender roles with the help of Fanleck, Victa, and Nassoro

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ruhuji Falls in Njombe

One of the only tourist attractions in our nearby town are the beautiful Ruhuji falls. It’s only a short 10 minute walk from the central area of Njombe. During the rainy season, the waterfalls come to life in full force and create a stunning scene of beauty. Locals come to relax by the waterfall or to do their laundry in the water.


Ruhuji Falls in the rainy season


Ruhuji falls in the rainy season


Ruhuji Falls in the dry season

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Garage Sale

Two years ago some volunteers had a great idea to sell all of their belongings at the end of their service. When I first heard of this idea, I thought it was kind of selfish, to sell your belongings instead of just giving them away. After two years of living and working here, I realize it is far better to make people buy my belongings, even if it’s cheaply, instead of just giving things away for free. By giving things for free, it gives the wrong message that locals should just rely on free things instead of working to earn things. So, this past weekend, Jon, myself, and 3 other volunteers who will leave Tanzania soon had a garage sale of our own in town. We sold various items, mostly clothes. We all made a decent amount of money and it was a lot of fun. Some pictures below to see how much of a crowd we had at our garage sale! I love that I am starting to blog about the last of my few months here.
All of our belongings ready to get sold!
We never anticipated a crowd this large!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tire Sandals

One reality of living in a developing nation is the lack of resources and things available. As a result, Tanzanians are incredibly resourceful and are able to discover ways to reuse nearly everything. This weekend, my sandals broke unexpectedly and so I went and bought myself a pair of tire sandals. A lot of Peace Corps volunteers buy these sandals and I have always hesitated because I worried about how comfortable they actually would be. I was in a pinch and needed some sandals so I figured now is the opportunity to try them out. The sandals are put together by old, cut up tires and four nails. The man cut them to fit my feet and wa-la, I have a pair of tire sandals for the cost of $2. My first day wearing them, I was correct, they aren’t terribly comfortable, however today they don’t seem as bad. I am hoping that they become really comfortable because let’s face it: while not beautiful, they allow me to leave a light footprint on mother earth (pun completely intended) by giving old tires a second use!
The 4 nails that hold them together: two in the middle and two by the toe wedge.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Boy’s Conference

Last weekend, six Peace Corps volunteers gathered in Njombe and held a boy’s conference. Each volunteer brought 6 boys from their village school, grades ranging from 5th grade to 8th grade. In addition, we all brought one Tanzanian adult to help us with the conference. The conference’s main focus is teaching life skills especially about HIV and AIDS. The idea is for the 6 students from each school to learn as much as they can about these topics and go back to their schools and present it to their peers in a peer educator fashion. The money comes from a grant to help educate Tanzanians about HIV/AIDS. Jon and I brought 6 students of ours who we thought would be great leaders, peer educators at our school, and in addition, we brought some boys who we see have potential but could use a conference such as this to boost their self confidence. We brought a new teacher from our school named Mdotta to the conference. He was amazing. He is a rare Tanzanian who has a lot of training in working with youth in regards to HIV/AIDS. He was seriously so amazing. The life skills topics that we covered included decision making skills and gender roles. We had 4 children living with HIV come talk to our students about what it’s like for them. A doctor and a nurse who work specifically with HIV/AIDS patients came to talk to them as well. Some fun activities included dance parties, games night, and movie night. Our boys were by far the strongest boys at the conference in terms of their leadership and engagement. I felt like a really proud mom and I really enjoyed the whole weekend. It was a great way to end my last couple of months here. Our boys are yet to do their peer education at school, but they are excited to do it.


Jon and I, our 6 students, and Mr. Mdotta


Getting the boys to dance!


John, Fanleck, Fredy, and George


Teaching the boys about gender roles and they had to bake a cake to give them experience of a “woman’s job”


The boys learned about leadership by creating a “pole” that can hold an egg. The idea was to get the boys to realize that leaders need to listen to each other, delegate work, and cooperate.


The students working on their short term and long term goals after a goal setting session with the message of setting goals will help them choose to avoid risky behavior.


Group shot of all the participants


There is a program called Zinduka which ties HIV/AIDS education with soccer. One morning consisted of Zinduka activities. This activity is a metaphor where the students dribble a soccer ball through the risk field of HIV and AIDS.


We took the boys out for ice cream. 4 of them liked it, 2 didn’t! They didn’t know what it is really and they tried to put it into their pocket to eat later!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My little heartbreaker

I have a student who I have completely fallen in love with! He is such a smart kid and he tries so hard to study and improve in all ways he can. I have been spending more and more time after school time with him to improve his English. To be honest, his English needs little improvement, just some tweaking. I thought that he must have parents at home that speak English to him. But, it's not the case, his father died several years ago and he just lives with a guardian. He hasn't seen his 3 sisters in over a year. Yet, this little 14 year old will try to be the best he can be is so apparent. I worked on an essay contest with him and he needed to answer the question of why is water precious? in at least 500 words. He did it! I helped him with some grammar points, but they were 100% his thoughts and ideas and 95% his grammar. It has been noted in several publications that when a student is acquiring vocabulary, the average student can attain 7 new vocabulary words in one lesson. He can acquire about 20. Now that the essay is finished (one week of after school work with him), I have been giving him flashcards to memorize vocabulary. At the rate we are going, he is attaining about 100 new vocabulary words per week.

Recently, he came over to my house and we were having a "chat session". A session where we don't learn new vocabulary but where I ask him questions and he responds and then he can ask me questions. We only speak in English. His questions were these: when you are on an airplane to Tanzania, how do you eat? how do you bath? what do you do for that many hours? Then, he asked me if it's true that Americans have pictures of the sun, moon, and the planets. I told him it's true, they exist and that I will show him pictures of space His smile was ear to ear and he responded with I will become so smart!

Selfishly, Jon and I want to keep him at our school because he's so great to work with and it's so rewarding, however, we are looking into the possibility of having him accepted into a better boarding school about 1.5 hours from our school. The students at the boarding school are much brighter than most of our students. He will excel at a better school and be surrounded by smarter students. We asked him first if he would want to switch schools and he said yes without hesitation. We hope to work it out, if possible, before mid-April. He is just so smart and bright, he deserves a better education and we're going to do all we can to try to make it work out for him. In the meantime, I am ecstatic to be spending so much time with a Tanzanian student who aspires to be the President of Tanzania when he grows up. He's so hopeful and studious, he just breaks my heart with how adorable he is!