Some of the group at convocation!
I know that I have already posted about looking back, but it was a short post and I promised Lisa I would write more when I got home. Now that I am home and cleaned up and rested (to an extent) I am finding myself missing it more and more. I can tell you that it is the weirdest thing to not see my group today! I miss everyone in the group so much. We have gotten so close over these four weeks and it is the weirdest and saddest feeling to not see any of them today! But looking back at the trip as a whole, it was such an amazing growing experience. It made me do things that I would not have done other wise. It grew me not only in my career choice, but in life in general. I am now a stronger, bolder, more confident person.
Being in the classroom for three weeks really allowed me to get used to teaching. It has prepared me for anything! I am so ready to have my own classroom to teach, I am so excited to start getting into the classroom more and more. I was able to co-teach with Diana which was a great experience within itself. We worked so well together and we were able to help each other grow as teachers. Teaching over 20 lessons in front of not only a class, but a class in Africa has made me so much more confident. Diana and I were thrown into many classrooms on the spot and being able to think up lessons in five minutes was a stretch but a great test! We were able to adapt to the different situations that we were thrown into. I have to say again that I am so prepared to be up in front of a classroom and I am even more excited to see even more differences and similarities between the classrooms!
The trip as a whole was a growing experience like I said earlier. This trip grew me physically, emotionally, and relationally. I was able to climb a mountain and I can tell you that I would have never been able to do it with out the group! There was so much encouragement and support from our group which is i think the only reason I made it! I truly think that I have created life long friendships which I am so thankful for! We not only have this trip in common, but we have the love of teaching in common! I am so excited to be able to share ideas and stories with all of them as we begin to have our own classrooms. This trip will be one that I will never forget and I already want to go back!
So today is the second to last day in Arusha and we will be “Leavin’ on a jet plane!” as John Denver would say. We had our last day at school today and it was a lot of fun. We started the day off with a football match (soccer game) and it was students against teachers…
It was a crisp Friday morning and the air was cool as a soft breeze blew. Our ragtag team of teachers and students (we didn’t have enough teachers), dressed in burgundy, made our way onto the pitch. We gathered as a team and did a few quick warm ups and played keep-away until the field was available. Our opposition, dressed in a menacing lavender and comprised of most the best student athletes, used their time to warm up very poorly and instead let their heads swell with confidence as they watched us stumble through the warm-up.
The game before finished in a short amount of time and both of the Sekei teams took the field. We struggle to pick our positions because we did not understand the numbering system that the teachers were familiar with. Despite the massive amount of confusion we eventually ended up in positions that we preferred. The students took the kickoff and the game was underway; both teams hell bent on winning. A long time passed and Zack turns to Dan and I… “It’s only been five minutes.” After about another 5 minutes the Lavenders made their move and scored on a controversial goal (off sides should have been called). The half ended with the score 0-1 in favor of the Lavenders.
The second half brought with it a second wind to the Reds. We came out of the half like a man on fire, scoring 2 quick goals on the Lavs (both were scored by students). Then the time came for me to shine. One of our players passed the ball back to our goalie in a high traffic situation so instead of playing the long ball he tried to dribble though the crowd of opponents. Not surprisingly he lost the ball. Anticipating that happening, I moved directly in front of the goal where the keeper would normally stand. The Lavenders were licking their lips with anticipation as the keeper was out of position and the goal was left unattended. A shot came from about 20 yards out and was heading straight for the goal. Like a dark knight I came to the rescue and jumped in the air, heading the ball out of the box and out danger.
Soon after my achievement, Zack had his opportunity to make history. The ball made its way to the opposite end and the attack for the Reds began. After a bit a fancy footwork Mike gets some room to take a quality strike and sent the ball flying towards the goal keeper. A Lavender foot comes out of nowhere and the ball is deflected into the air. Zack, seeing his opportunity, charges forward. The keeper, realizing that he was the only one who could stop Zack, sprang into action with fear gripping him as Zach rapidly closed the gap. The ball slowly descended. Tensions were high as the two players were nearing collision. Zack leaped with all his might, head cocked back as the keeper reached for the ball. Cheers erupted from the sidelines! Zack spins around to face the field, dirt from the ball covering his forehead, and hands raised in triumph.
The game ended with a whistle and a cheer from the Reds. We were victorious thanks to our “Stonewall” defense and relentless offence. As we walked off the field we shook hands with our opponents and made small talk as we returned to the school, heads held high… 3-1… we had done the impossible.
Here are the final 60 things we’ve learned during our time in Tanzania. This was a group effort and not an exhaustive list.
61. When walking in the rain, you have two choices, fall in the drainage ditch or fall in a huge puddle.
62. Honey tastes like alcohol.
63. The pool guys can predict the weather better than the weathermen.
64. You can never have too much bread and butter.
65. Math majors only do good.
66. If there is a chance of rain, it means it will rain.
67. We are the only country in the United States that teaches math.
68. It is impossible to drink out of a Nalgene without spilling on yourself.
69. Our bladders are directly related to the quality of the bathroom and/or hole.
70. The number of wives a Maasai has is directly proportional to the number of cows he owns.
71. The best food is a simple vegetable broth.
72. Zack is the only one who can get girls’ hair free from the thorn tree.
73. We don’t get tan lines, we get dirt lines.
74. Grand Valley would dominate Survivor: Tanzania.
75. There are hand signals for the colon in number 74 above.
76. There are three different words for flamingo and none of us no which one is correct.
77. Ponchos will never catch on as a fashion statement in Tanzania.
78. Never take your backpack on a six and a half hour hike if it is not absolutely necessary.
79. Euchre is played everywhere, including the top of a mountain.
80. White shoes do not last more than 20 minutes.
81. When you don’t have a television, geckos are the best entertainment.
82. Power can be shut off nation-wide, by choice.
83. When hiking, there is a significantly greater chance of stepping in poop than not in poop.
84. Climbing a mountain is easier than hiking to a canyon.
85. Our parents were right, it is possible to travel uphill both ways.
86. We share everything.
87. The only way to prevent blisters is to not walk. Ever.
88. You can make anything out of a banana.
89. If you ride in the back of the safari vehicle, you will hit your head on the window at least once.
90. People say you’re welcome before you even say thank you.
91. If you don’t have bruises after the first day of safari, you’re doing it wrong.
92. Six Immodium is not too many.
93. You know it’s going to be a long day when you break your first piece of chalk on the first word you write.
94. We will never know what side of the road to walk on.
95. One little leaf can make a whole lot of racket on a tin roof.
96. You can never have enough mints. Well, Zack can never have enough mints.
97. Cody has a husband face.
98. Your passport pouch goes under your shirt.
99. Long bathroom breaks are a cry for moral support.
100. Diana is a walking drugstore.
101. You can be in the middle of Africa and learn about proper dinner etiquette…outside in.
102. If you can’t find your driver, he is probably throwing rocks at the lions.
103. Even given the chance to sleep in, we still wake up at 6:15.
104. You can take a cat down a mountain in a box and have it survive. Nice work, Bahati.
105. People say sorry even when it’s not their fault.
106. There really aren’t any problems in Tanzania. Hakuna matata.
107. Always offer half.
108. A slice of pizza can be passed down the table and touched by 9 people before being graciously accepted.
109. Sun tanning on the equator is dangerous, but gets the job done quickly.
110. You will always have a passport pouch tan line. Just accept it.
111. Ice will never again be taken for granted.
112. It is common practice to mop outside.
113. There are wild hedgehogs in Tanzania.
114. Mzungus can beat Africans in a football game.
115. You will never be able to pronounce all of your students’ names.
116. Lions claim everything, even safari vehicles.
117. You don’t need 100 pictures of zebras, but you can’t help yourself.
118. You’ll never know if a car honking means hello, get out of the way, or go ahead and cross. Just pick one and commit.
119. There are no boundaries when you live with the same people for 26 days.
120. Maisha Marefu
Where to even begin about being here in Tanzania! So many great things have happened in four weeks! Leaving the schools was probably one of the hardest things ever. I am going to miss talking to the teachers during break and not only teaching the students but learning from them. I think one of the biggest things that i learned here was being flexible and going with the flow. I really liked being forced to teach with a piece of chalk and chalkboard. It really forced me to get back to the basics and really think of creative ways to teach. I have really enjoyed learning about the culture. One of the best things was walking in town and recognizing people! We were talking to the locals which means we have been here a while! It was a blast becasue we felt like we belonged here!! It will be hard to leave all of these wonderful adventures, I hope to one day be able to come back and see everyone again! There is so much more i could write but i woudl be here for hours, so I will just keep it to this short synopsis.
As this trip comes to a close, I find myself in a blur of emotions. Before today, I was strictly excited to head back home. I feel so ready to see my family and friends, eat delicious food, and sleep in my own bed. Yet, after going to school today and seeing all of the students and teachers I am not so sure that I want to leave. This morning at school, we played a soccer game– teachers versus students. Surprisingly, our teacher team won 3-1! (see Cody’s blog for a play by play) After the game, we headed back to the school where we savored our last moments there by having chai (or in English, tea) with the teachers and talking with many different students. As we were preparing to leave for the day, all of the students gathered in the courtyard for some announcements so we were called over to say our bittersweet good-byes. Mr. Shayo, the English teacher who took us all under his wing, asked us all to say a few words. We simply could not hold it together; many of us started crying and many of the students were emotional too. Each of the six of us mzungu teachers told the students how appreciative we were for taking us in to their school and how we hoped that they learned just as much from us as we did from them. I honestly did not think that leaving the school today would have an affect me because I was so excited to go home yet; it was extremely hard to leave all of those wonderful people. Teaching at Sekei Secondary School these past few weeks has been a wonderful, eye-opening learning experience and I will never forget the time I have had there. Through teaching here I have learned so many new things.
I have learned about myself as a person, how to work closely to co teach with two other people, how to plan a lesson, and many other important things. Coming here originally, I was very unsure of my decision but being here has taught me to be confident in myself. I find myself being more confident in so many aspects of life including just walking around the busy streets and talking to people I don’t know to exuding confidence in front of a group of students that I am teaching. I have learned that co teaching with others is a very difficult yet rewarding experience. We had different opinions on what should happen in the classroom yet we were able to come up with and execute lessons that turned out very well. I have also learned that being a teacher is not just about the content that you are lecturing. Teaching is established around continually building relationships with your students. Having an open relationship with your students is crucial to communication and participation in the classroom. This fact was highlighted every single day while teaching here in Tanzania. The students here are not used to group work or having a voice within the classroom and so building a relationship with the students was essential in order for them to feel comfortable enough to participate.
Ever since the day we got here, people have been so kind and welcoming to us. I think the phrase I have heard the most while here is karibu which is translated as “you are welcome”. I have seen this welcoming attitude in a multitude of places here from our safari drivers and teachers to random street vendors. I wish that this attitude toward life would be adopted in our culture. I am so appreciative of being able to come on this trip. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend this month with and I can guarantee that I will forever remember, and attempt to pass on, the skills I learned while in Tanzania.