Today was my second day of teaching. But before I delved into that, I have stories about tonight with my homestay that I need to share. We just had the most wonderful misunderstanding in relation to the rat that I discovered (see previous posts) inhabits our home. I heard him in the kitchen when putting away dishes from dinner and of course, still got a little scared and scampered back into the family room, much to the pure amusement of my host fam (mama, kaka, dada wawili). So, my host mama asked me if I’d closed the door to my room…which of course I hadn’t. So, I went off to close it. But here’s the thing: the latch on my door doesn’t work. I can lock it, but I can’t close the door and have it stay closed without locking it. It’ll just swing open. So, in order to keep my door closed, I locked it and took the key with me. So, over the next hour we got into a ridiculous conversation where I missed the point of some conversation about octopus’s, Germany and the World Cup. Even after Happy explained it to me in English, I was sooo lost. Let’s not even bother worrying about what that mazungumza (conversation) was actually about. Oye! So, then, I said my “usiku mwema (good night!)” and went to walk down the small hall to my door. I took my flashlight as well, but I didn’t go more than like 3 feet before hearing what sounded like the rat again. So, of course I retreated to the family room making a disgusted face while my mama laughed again. This time, she got off the couch and proceeded to the hall calling out “Panya! Panya!”( which means “rat” in Kiswahili) down the hall. Its was great. Then, she got to my room, where she proceeded to attempt to open the door but discovered it was locked. When I pulled out my key to unlock it, she nearly died laughing. Lighty came following behind and mama started explaining that I’d locked the door in fear that the rat might know how to open the door via turning the door handle. OMG were they dying laughing. I nearly cried I was laughing so hard too. Finally, I took her inside my room and demonstrated how the door doesn’t latch and she finally understood but boy I have never seen her laugh that hard yet, and this is a very jolly family. It was so great. Goodness, you just have to love it when humor translates across cultures. So so so great.
*side note: let it be know that admist typing this anecdote, I heard continual scampering of the panya in the ceiling. And the ceiling is really just a sheet of wood, so that’s basically like hearing it scamper right next to you. Oh, my!
*double side note: you know how I said the latch on the door doesn’t work. Well there’s another catch to working this door too. If you lock it from the inside, you may find that it won’t UNLOCK. So, yes, I’ve locked myself in my room so far a total of 2 times. It’s been great (note the American sarcasm).
*triple side note: sarcasm does not exist in Tanzania. They just think you are being dumb or…no, its usually just dumb. Luckily, I taught my host fam the joys of sarcasm early on, so my older host sister enjoys using it on me. This is even more unexpected and usually leaves me looking even more dumb because it is so unexpected. Like when I asked Happy if we needed plates for dinner one night (we always use plates) and she said “no, we just eat out of our hands.” And she did it with the best most serious face and I looked astonished until she broke out smiling. Goodness, you have to love cross cultural adaption. Welcome to Tanzania!!!! (Karibu Tanzania!)
In all seriousness, I have been really busy preparing for and teaching my first actual lessons. We started Monday and I taught an 80 minute Form I class on Biology, which, in form 1, is really just personal hygiene and god manners, waste disposal and first aid and, after a while, a little little bit of the important (actually biological) material such as cell organization. It was quite an adventure just seeing as I’m a bit crunched on time, I’ll indulge in the wonderful details of teaching a over-filled, underfunded classroom of students who only understand about every third word. It definitely threw me for a loop but after adjusting my teaching methods and standards for comprehension, it seems manageable. Far from easy, but do able. I have quite the challenge ahead of me. Please send a little luck and prayer this way…I’ll need it.
Lots of love and best wishes from Morogoro - <3