I know that I’ve been insanely lax in blogging so I wanted to write at least a few more before I go home for xmas break.
After a few wonderful but crazy weeks of traveling before and after MSC (midservice conference), I came back to site more than willingly. It’s been great connecting and reconnecting with people from my region and just getting back into a routine. Not that I don’t incredibly mind living out of a backpack but for some reason I tend to pack mine so full (literally and metaphorically) that it becomes a huge chore fitting and refitting everything in. Even though the next couple months will be low key and within the borders of Manyara region, I have little things to keep me busy, and as usual, a wonderfully made up house to come home to as well.
So, last week, I went to my school’s graduation ceremony for Form 4’s. I’d been teaching them for almost a year now and it was great to see them all excited and ready to be done. Graduation is done a little differently here, with the students all sitting on one side of the big array of chairs positioned in front of 2 classrooms under several strung up tarps, and the parents on the other side. In front, at the “head table” as its deemed, are all the teachers, the headmaster, and anyone else considered important enough to join them. In our case, this included one of the parliament representatives from Hanang district (basically the equivalent to a senator…kinda big deal) and the head of school’s version of the PTA, who also happens to be my neighbor, Tom. The schedule mimicked that of a long parade with a choir, dance, introductions, play, bike tricks, more dances (one even mocking the tribal dances from the area…which I got a huge kick out of) and lots more speeches and talking. Additionally, the headmaster read off an inventory of everything within the school (books excluded) and this meant he explained things ranging from the exact number of functional desks and chairs to the gender of each of our cooks. Odd. The Form 4’s did something similar, reading off a summary of how many students started in Form1 here and how many were left and the like. As you can imagine, this was now short endeavor. The ceremony was written to start at 10am, it actually started at 12pm and I sat in the one darn seat until 5pm when we were finally fed lunch and soda. It was grueling but not horrid. I enjoyed some of the plays and dances but listening to Kiswahili for 5hours nonstop is tiring.
These last weeks, since Form 4 is done being taught and merely waiting to take their exams in 2 weeks, I’ve been getting back to teaching Form 3’s and started on Form 1’s. I’ve avoided the younger forms because, after internship teaching last year, I wanted to explode after any instances that I had with the younger forms. But, so far, they’ve been okay. The other teachers (of whom are now gone or too lazy to teach) taught them the majority of the topics expected to be covered so it makes me job a lot easier. I’ve just been filling gaps in their notes and adding on bits of information to catch them up. Now that I’ve written this, however, I’m sure that I’ve jinxed myself and they will turn into little monsters.
Another update from the area of academics is that I finally (2 weeks ago) finished revising my grant to renovate a school library and sent it into PC. Due to horrible timing on both our parts, the grants coordinator went on break the day that I sent it to her and hasn’t been around since so I’ve been patiently waiting out the time until she returns. My school (teachers and students alike) are anxiously awaiting the funding to build their first library and furnish it with books and desks. My fingers are crossed that this funding comes through successfully within the next months because, even if I have to extend the length of my service, I’d like to see this project through. It’s something that I’d already committed a lot of thought, time, effort and heart into and it deserves (for the school’s sake and mine) to come to completion.
Another project I’ve been actively working on is starting a Zinduka club at my school. Two counterparts and myself went to a training in Dodoma back in June and due to school breaks and graduation stuff, have been unable to mobilize the students into forming our school’s first club. Zinduka uses soccer skills and language to educate and initiate discussions on HIV/AIDS. It’s a great program despite still being in its prime here in Tanzania but I think that my school could greatly benefit from additional HIV//AIDS education and awareness, even if the rate of infection in Manyara is relatively low for TZ. More updates on that to come. Hopefully by the end of this week we’ll have chosen the students.