Education is truly a gift
08.04.2011 - 24.07.2011
To be quite honest with you all I was as nervous as hell on my first day of teaching, I hadn't thought too much about the teaching before I arrived in moshi. Packing up my life in America, the whistlestop tour of England seeing my nearest and dearest and arriving in Tanzania had taken up all my Brian power. But now overnight I was to become an English teacher to 40 Tanzanian women!!
I was taking over the class from Anne a lovely lady from the us of a who had been teaching English at give a heart to Africa for 3months and to be honest was a very hard act to follow!
So here are some of my highlights of teaching, truly one of the most wonderful and rewarding experiences I have ever had and subsequently why I am thinking of it now as a proffesion!
On my first day the students asked me lots of questions, a great way to practice their English and a good introduction opportunity for me. One of the students asked me why I decided to come to Tanzania. As you all know I am honest so quick as a flash without even thinking I answered to see the giraffes of course!! 20 shocked faces looked back at me, I guess they were expecting something different! Haha
I was teaching on a blackboard omg my hand writting isn't neat at the best of times so this was a real struggle for me!! I decided the only option was for me to get new longer pieces of chalk and to practice as much as possible after class.. By the end of the 3 months I had improved!!
Gerunds and infinitives??!? Wow I had no idea.. Ok so it turned out I had a lot to teach myself about my mother tongue before I could teach it to 40 students!! So most nights when I was covering a new topic and there was power I was googling the subject and learning it to teach the students! It turns out you need to understand a subject in depth before you can teach it as well it just is doesn't fly!! And how complex our language is!!
I went to Moshi town and I bought.. So Thursdays are for practicing spoken English.. With the top set we have debate but with the lower set they aren't as advanced so instead we played some games. I adapted the memory game where you say I went to town and I bought x and then the next person says x and y.. Anyway they loved it, there was 2 teams create a bit of rivalry! We almost had a riot in the classroom! V funny!
I realised quite early on that laughter and fun in the classroom makes dry subjects so much more exciting so English class was always a bit of a riot and we had a lot of fun.. It usually involved me jumping around at the front of the class and making them do funny things but it worked well and we made a lot of progress!
Debate on Thursdays with group 2 was fantastic, I learnt so much about life in Tanzania and about the students. There was always a few key players that had a lot to say Lisa and phi lemon have great English and always have an opinion! Some of the topics included - is rural life better than urban, is dhay school better then boarding, life of a Maasai and many political debates. I was so shocked when I arrived with the enthusiasm everyone has in politics, they have so much more interest than the average person in the west. Everyone is so motivated for change here and they are not afraid to give their opinion! The most interesting and heated debate we had was about women empowerment. We have 5 men in class so it was fascinating to get the different opinions between the men and women! All the men agreed it is good to empower women but as soon as we got onto the topic of are women more valuable as a race than men the conversation really heated up! The men were adamant that they were the superior race and the shovanistic opinions really came through! At one point My blood was boiling with what they were saying but as the facilitator I tried to stay on the fence!
During my teaching I made a lot of friends, I had the most amazing translator Penina a former student who helped me amazingly. The higher set didn't really need the translation after the first month or so but the lower set really needed her. Penina also picked up on my mistakes which was nice..no one is perfect definitely not me! The students also became great friends of mine. Seeing them on their home visits allowed me to really put into perspective their struggles which allowed me to relate to them a lot better.
As part of the six month teaching programme we take the students to an Internet cafe to allow them to get familiar with using the Internet and set up email accounts. There is a few students with Facebook and email but most of them hadn't been on the Internet and it was totally a surreal experience for them. Helping them on the Internet required a great amount of patience but it was very rewarding!!
The monkey forest - as part of the business class the students have assignments, their first assignment was within their 4groups to come up with a business idea for the day a service that will make money. Each group came up with 2ideas the services were hair bradding, church performance and 2 day trips one to the waterfalls and one to the monkey forest. I went with the monkey forest group.. It was the funniest experience ever.. They had to find customers the week before but unfortunately they put the quietest team members on sales so subsequently no tickets got sold! We decided to go ahead anyway with the trip so they took me and Melissa.. Well they were totally disorganized! The ticket negotiations did not go well instead of an anticipated 10 shilling charge they negotiated50shillings! So we abandoned going into the forest and went around the edge of the forest which was free! We still saw a lot of monkeys which was very cool and they tried ever so hard to make sure we had a great day out. At one point we got totally lost and at that time we agreed it was definitely good there was no paying customers!!
It was terribly hard for me to leave GHTA and I am excited to be going back next week for a quick catch up with my students and my fantastic friend Monika who made my volunteering extra special - she runs the NGO and truly has a heart of gold! I am really not looking forward to saying goodbye to them all..
If you are interested about finding more out about the NGo the website is www.giveahearttoafrica.org