Wiki Tano – Kwaheri Tanzania

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers finished up our work Orkolili secondary school. During our final days in Tanzania, we continued to teach English at Orkolili and observe more classes. Friday was an exam day for them so we were told not to come in. We took up having a long weekend as the chance to head back to Moshi and visit the project sites we had been working at previously. We spent Friday and much of Saturday at both Margaret’s and Msamaria brainstorming project ideas for next year’s team to work on.

On Sunday, we went on an excursion with some of the other people staying at Eva’s to the base of Kilimanjaro, a local Chagga museum, a coffee plantation, Chagga caves, and a big waterfall. It was a great last big trip to do in Tanzania that allowed us to learn more about the local tribes.

Monday was still exams at Orkolili so we took the morning slow before eventually going into school. Once there, we were finally able to meet with Tom, Mama M’cha’s son who helps manage the school. He helped explain to us how their water system works and the plans for the rainwater storage system that they are currently building. Emily was able to provide some input into the water system since that is her specialty and Tom set us up a trip to the local water filtration plant to tour the facilities and ask some questions that might help Orkolili establish the safety of the water that they use. After our talk with Tom, we met another volunteer visiting from England who was starting out her four week stay here teaching sports. She had set up a ping pong table so we watched a few rounds before heading home for the day.

We headed to Orkolili bright and early on Tuesday to finish up working on PowerPoint we were creating on engaging teaching techniques before heading off to learn more about Boma’s water system. It was a great experience to get to learn about where their water comes from and how it is treated.

For our final day, we headed to Snowview Hotel to work on finishing up some homework and to relax! Our flight did not leave until 9 PM so we enjoyed the last moments of our trip before heading off to go home. It was such a great experience and we were really sad to leave Tanzania and all of the amazing people we met along the way!


Wiki Nne – More Fun at Orkolili

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers continued our work at Orkolili secondary school! On Thursday, we were planning on attending day two at the Nelson Mandela Institute but unfortunately, the school decided not to return so instead, we spent the day observing classes such as form I English and English literature (approximately eighth grade), form IV mathematics, and form IV biology. These observations at least gave us a basic understanding of how classes at Orkolili function and what kinds of methods are being used there.

Friday was a shorter day for us since Friday afternoons are dedicated to religious studies in Swahili which they sent us home before but it was also our first day teaching there. We were popped into form I English again for the 80 minute block where we had the students create and present dialogues focusing on going to the market, read a part of the book that they had been reading the previous day (Hawa the Bus Driver), and played two rounds of “Simon Says” to practice both English and commands, something they had also been discussing the previous day.

On Saturday, we went back to Arusha one final time to explore a bit more and meet up with Brenda, a contact who had previously gotten her PhD at Michigan Tech before moving to Tanzania to work. We met up with her at a coffee shop and discussed both her experiences and ours. Afterwards, we did a bit more shopping for souvenirs before heading back to Boma where we spent the rest of the weekend relaxing.

For the remainder of the week, we pretty much repeated the same routine of going to school, teaching a class English, and then observing some classes. It was great getting to chat with the students after class about both our lives in the U.S. and their lives here in Tanzania. Learning what we can from the students is one of our favorite parts of being in the schools.

Week four turned out pretty good! On to the final week in Tanzania!


Wiki Tatu – Finishing up at Nkwamakuu and Nelson Mandela Week

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers finished up our time at Nkwamakuu primary school and attended a STEM conference. On Thursday and Friday, we continued to work in classrooms on English and math activities that seemed to be real hits along with observing classes in order to continue to learn about the methods of teaching that are currently in use at Nkwamakuu.

On Saturday, we hit the town and took a bus to Arusha to do some shopping and have lunch. We met up with Charles from Asante Africa and he showed us their offices before we headed to a Maasai market. After we picked up a few things, we wandered around downtown before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. It was cool getting to experience such a big city after having been living in tiny Boma Ng’ombe for so long at this point.

We spent Sunday resting up while Sam was recovering from being sick before heading into school on Monday and Tuesday to finish up teaching, observing, and handing over information that Andrew from the 2018 Tanzamaniacs team had worked on during the year to go with his tippy-tap hand washing stations. The posters he made were in both Swahili and English with instructions on how best to wash your hands and the reasons to do so.

It was so hard to say good-bye to everyone at Nkwamakuu that last day. We were given about 3 rounds of hugs and a million rounds of patty cake before we took off for the final time. It was an incredible experience getting to be at their school and we appreciated the hospitality we were given each and every day.

Wednesday was a special day for us because we were able to go with Orkolili secondary school to the Nelson Mandela Institute near Arusha for their annual STEM conference and science fair during Nelson Mandela week. The event was focused on encouraging girls to go into STEM fields as a career and to make it seem more approachable to them. We listened to a variety of speakers such as the ambassador to Tanzania from South Africa, current graduate students doing research and pursuing their degrees as the Nelson Mandela Institute, and faculty there sharing everything from their stories to tips and tricks for doing well in STEM classes. While the girls were all working on the final activity, we got the chance to tour some of their labs with a current masters student. We were able to meet others doing research into reusing charcoal, trying to produce disease resistant bananas, removing fluoride from water, using artificial intelligence to tell whether tomato plants were suffering from diseases, and more.

Week three was another great one! We can’t wait to see what will be in store for us week four!


Wiki Mbili – The Tanzania Tree Huggers Get to Boma

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers moved to Boma Ng’ombe where we will be staying for the remainder of the trip. On Friday, we said our good-byes at Old Moshi Hostel and Tesha picked us up. We would be staying at John’s house, a friendly man with a passion for gardening, for the next 3.5 weeks. It was exciting getting to start this leg of the trip because we knew that we were going to have a great time working at both Nkwamakuu primary school and Orkolili secondary school.

On saturday, we got to go on one of the most exciting parts of the trip – a safari! We headed to Snowview Hotel to meet the tour guide before dawn before heading to Arusha (about an hour away) to pick up Mary who had just come in from Kenya the night before. Our guide picked up our lunchboxes and we were off to Tarangire National Park. It was about 2 hours further but along the way, we got to see Maasai herding their cows and a lot of the more rural parts of Tanzania. On the safari, we saw wildebeests, ostriches, antelope, elephants, giraffes, cheetah, a whole bunch of zebras, and nine lions! A monkey even managed to steal Madi’s sandwich!

After such an eventful day, we mostly used Sunday to rest up before starting in the schools that week. Monday was dedicated to going to the district office for the schools and talking to the folks over at Nkwamakuu and Orkolili about what their expectations and goals were for our time with them. Nkwamakuu encouraged us to pursue a project of our choice and to teach everyday while Orkolili invited us to attend a science fair with them in Moshi, teach, and help teach a class on PowerPoint to teachers the following day.

Tuesday was our first real day in the school and it was a whirlwind. We started the day by giving lessons in mathematics and science to the standard seven class at Nkwamakuu before jumping in a bajaji and heading to Orkolili. We spent 3.5 hours working with the teachers on their PowerPoint skills and then they created a slideshow to present to the group about the topic they normally teach. There was a lot of enthusiasm from some of the teachers who did not have much prior experience with PowerPoint but saw how it could be beneficial to their arsenal of teaching methods.

 

Wednesday was the first day that we got to spend entirely at Nkwamakuu. We planned to go back to the standard seven class and work on english and mathematics. The activity that we had planned to make teaching english more engaging was to play a form of charades where the students got to act out things written on the board like animals, activities, and responsibilities. One of our favorites was the group of students acting out elephant turned their school sweaters into trunks. After our lessons, we enjoyed breakfast before going and observing standard four, the class we were planning on teaching next. We wanted to get a feel for what they were learning and what methods the teachers used so we sat in on mathematics and swahili. Before heading out, we had some lunch and played a million rounds of patty cake with the kids!

Week two was an exciting one! We can’t wait to see what will be in store for us week three!


Wiki Moja – The Tanzania Tree Huggers Get to Moshi

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers got to Tanzania and spent the week in Moshi.  After getting off of our plane at about 9:30 PM Wednesday night, Ewald Tesha from Asante Africa picked us up and brought us to stay at Snowview Hotel in Boma N’gombe for one night before we continued onward to Moshi.  We got up the next morning and after having a delicious first meal in Tanzania, we headed to tour the two schools we would be working with later on in the trip – Orkolili and Nkwamakuu.  First up, we stopped at Orkolili where Mama M’cha gave us a tour of their facilities.  They are a secondary school that offers vocational programs such as welding and masonry to help prepare their students for the workforce.  We then headed over to Nkwamakuu where we had chai (morning tea and snacks such as fresh fruit) with the headmaster before getting a tour of their school.  Both schools were not in session so we did not get a chance to meet more than just a few students at each school.

After finishing up at the school, we drove over to Moshi to get situated at the hostel we would be staying at for the next week, Old Moshi Hostel.  We got to meet Eva, our wonderful host who would be helping us organize projects, excursions, and showing us the city.  She is the best! After settling in to our room a bit, we went to visit Msamaria Children’s Home.  Having not heard anything from Amani’s Children’s Home (one of the sites past teams had worked with), we were exploring new options for future teams.  Msamaria Children’s Home was home to about 80 children who come from the streets, are orphans, or are from destructive homes who haven’t been able to be re-united with their extended families.  The kids were mostly around 7-12 years old and were excited to dance with us or use Madi’s hand sanitizer.  We identified a possible future project for teams to do as preparing some lessons on things such as sanitation to teach the students, a need that was expressed by the man who runs Msamaria.

The next day, Eva organized for us to head over to the Kiviwama Conservation Center to work on their tree planting project.  It was a beautiful slice of the rainforest just seconds from the city center of Moshi that had a lovely river cutting through it.  This project involved us being given a huge pile of native seeds and planting them in soil to start growing.  Another future project for teams would be to take part in their weekly tree transport and planting at schools around Moshi as an attempt to create natural shade using local plants.  It was a really cool project that we wished that we could work on more, but we lacked the necessary funds and time.  After planting all of our seeds and getting an overview of the different trees and plants that they raise there, we headed back to Msamaria’s to take part in a birthday party being thrown there for one of our fellow hostel-mates.  We all danced with the kids to fun renditions of “Happy Birthday” that we had never heard before, had a lunch of chicken and potatoes, and a celebratory chocolate cake.  It was so fun seeing all of the kids having a such a great time!

We were off the next two days since it was the weekend and we got to enjoy a few excursions! All three of us went with the hostel to the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro and hiked the 8 km up to Mandara Hut and then headed back.  It was incredible getting to experience such a iconic part of Tanzania.  The next day, Emily joined the hostel in a trip to hot springs where she got to see lots of monkeys and fish that nibble on your toes.

On Monday, we met up with our professor Mary Raber to discuss our time here so far and our upcoming plans for the next few weeks.  After hanging out for a bit, we went to lunch with Tesha and Eva at a local restaurant where we all tried some different Tanzanian dishes such as chips mayai (omelette with french fries) and maandazi (fried donuts).

We dropped Mary at her hotel and then headed over to check out our final site here in Moshi, the Children of Destiny Foundation children’s home.  It was conveniently located just two streets away from Old Moshi Hostel and it consisted of an orphanage that took care of about 20 kids that went to Kenya for boarding school much of the year and also a daycare for local children.  The orphanage had been running for about 12 years with the same group of kids growing up there as a family.  The children attended boarding school in Kenya through sponsorships by people around the world because they were able to get better educations that would prepare them to go to college or enter the workforce for about half the price ($720 USD) of what it would cost to get the same type of education in Tanzania.  The first of the kids to go off to college was Gideon who we had gotten to know at our hostel.  The day we had arrived had been a tumultuous one, there had been a complaint about their sewage leaking so they had received fines and due to a lack of communication from some of their sponsors, the kids had missed the first week of school because they lacked the funds to attend.  Spirits were overall down but Margaret, the woman who had lead the operation since the beginning, was optimistic that things would turn around as she explained some of their plans to work towards being less reliant on donations by opening a store and selling crops such as coriander, lettuce, and kale from their garden.  The daycare had been created in order to help generate more money to fund the orphanage and it currently has about 15-20 kids in it, many being away during our visit because school was still out for the season so some of the parents that are teachers at the nearby school were around.

We discussed the ways in which we could work with them and it was established that we could be the most helpful by helping update their website so that it had current information in order to make it easier for potential sponsors to get involved.  It was agreed between us and Margaret that the site was the most beneficial help we could give during our short time with them.  In our extra time, we would help out around the preschool doing things like teaching lessons or helping with feeding them.

When we went back to Margaret’s the next day, we heard the exciting news.  The students were going back to school! The Spaniards that had been staying at our hostel had given enough money to get them back into school in Kenya and all of the kids looked overjoyed.  With most of the focus being needed on getting the kids ready to head out, we helped out in the daycare until lunch.  For lunch, we tried out IndoItaliano, a great restaurant in downtown Moshi that lots of tourists visit for their great Indian and Italian food.  Emily and Madi tried tawa chicken and butter naan while Sam and Eva had margherita pizza.  We then headed to check out some of the stores and pick up some souvenirs.

The other project that we have been working on was updating Old Moshi Hostel’s website.  When Madi mentioned that she was going to be working on Margaret’s site, Eva asked if we could help her on her website too as it was out of date and in need of new pictures.  Wednesday morning while Sam and Emily headed back to Margaret’s, Madi worked with Eva to figure out what should be changed on the website.  Overall, it gave off a better impression of what the values and goals of the hostel were and the different projects that could be done by visitors.  In the future, teams could check back up with Eva and see if there is anything else she needs changed on the website.

Overall, it was a great start to our time in Tanzania! We are looking forward to everything that wiki mbili brings!


Team Tanzania 2019

Meet the Tanzania 2019 Team

 

Samantha Dertinger – scdertin@mtu.edu

Samantha is a third year Biomedical Engineering Student at Michigan Technological University. She is from Harrison Township Michigan, which is approximately 30 minutes north of Detroit, with her parents and 6 younger siblings. She participates in the Pavlis Honors College, Mind Trekkers, and the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Research group. In her free time, Samantha enjoys playing piano, video games, and spending time with her friends.

Emily Rutledge – ecrutled@mtu.edu

Emily is a third year Environmental Engineering major at Michigan Technological University. Emily grew up in Holland, Michigan with her mom, dad, and two dogs. At Michigan Tech Emily is involved with the Ski and Snowboard club as a member of the executive board, is in the Pavlis Honors College, is a member of the Green Campus Enterprise, and volunteers with the YWLP mentoring program. Emily enjoys volunteering and is passionate about sustainability. In her free time Emily enjoys downhill skiing, running, hiking, camping, backpacking and spending time with friends and family.

Madi Vachon – mtparis@mtu.edu

Madi is a fourth year English major at Michigan Technological University.  She is from Brighton, MI and grew up with her five siblings, her dog (Wookie), and hedgehog (Humphrey).  She is involved in Pavlis Honors College as a peer mentor and ambassador. In her free time, she works as a food blogger and an entrepreneur at mildlymeandering.com and snacksandsips.com, spending most weekends developing recipes.  Additionally, she loves to travel around the globe and try different foods.

About the Trip

Departure Date:

Three weeks from today (6/4/2019), Team Tanzania 2019 departs for Mount Kilimanjaro.

Projects:

Each member leads their own projects including updating a handwashing station at Nkwamakuu Primary School, STEM activities at the primary school and Orkalili High School, and English education activities at the same schools. Proper sanitation is necessary in all schools in order for the schools to make long lasting impacts on the children it serves. As sanitation continues to improve in schools, it allows to children to be more present in school, missing less from preventable illnesses and other health reasons that may otherwise force them to stay home. This with sustainable growth in the STEM field of education will help the students prepare themselves for upcoming exams and higher levels of education. In turn, with high levels of education in the community, the standards of living will improve and the students will be able to give back to their own communities, using their education.  English education will help the students prepare for the English-based high schools that many will attend and to help them prepare to use English in the work force through hands-on, interactive activities that will help them learn the language.

About the Global Leadership Pathway:

The Global Leadership Pathway in the Pavlis Honor College, at Michigan Tech, inspires and prepares students to become leaders who challenge themselves, work effectively on diverse teams, and achieve their goals through life-changing courses, projects, mentorships, and international experiences. The highlight of the Global Leadership Pathway is a 5-week international experience from June 25th through July 31st, and this year we will be heading to Tanzania. While there we must use the skills we have developed to successfully complete meaningful projects that will have a positive effect on the Tanzania community. For our trip, we have three projects, which are outlined below.   We will be working on these at an elementary and high school in Boma N’Gombe and with Amani’s Children’s Home in Moshi.


Wiki Tano: Kwa Heri na Asante Tanzania!

It’s hard to believe how fast our time in Tanzania has gone! In some ways it feels like we just got here (our bartering skills have at least improved a little since our arrival, especially for Ian, who could only get better after that first day in Arusha), yet we are also all looking forward to what comes next (home for some, Europe for others). Our last week has definitely been bitter sweet. We hope you enjoy our last blog post and we thank you for following along on our journey!
We spent the majority of our last week working at Amani’s Children’s Home. On Monday, we all went to Amani’s in the morning. When we arrived, there was a large staff meeting going, which meant we got to spend the morning getting to know the children at the home more. The kids at the home are all so extremely sweet that would never guess some of the challenges they have encountered in their lives. We met many of the kids in the yard, where they were practicing their acrobatics skills. Although all of us tried our acrobatic skills, some had more success than others (aka Andrew, with his gymnastics background). While Andrew continued to show the kids new moves, Lauren and Ian joined in on another soccer game (and got out-played and out-ran), and Jennifer had fun talking with some of the girls.
After the staff meeting was over, we got to work on our project. As explained in our last post, the project we were working on was to create a data metrics display board, with the capability of displaying real time statistics of the organization (number of children rescued in a month or year, number of children reunified with their family, etc.). On Friday last week, we had come up with two potential methods of accomplishing this task. The first was to use Microsoft exclusively, however the problem with this was that Amani is currently transferring their database from Microsoft Excel to another software. Our intent with this plan was to bring the project back to Michigan Tech to get some help from some computer science students, but this would have taken more time and would have possibly led to more work required for the Amani staff. The second option was to use a software that has the compatibility to work with both excel and the database software they are working with. On Monday, we proposed both of these options to the Executive Director of Amani’s, Meindert Schapp. We also showed him a prototype PowerPoint in order to make sure that we were on the right track. After showing him the options, he decided that it would be best to use the more advanced software. Now that we knew how they wanted us to proceed, we were able to get to work on actually implementing the project. As Lauren and Ian got to work on that in the afternoon, Andrew and Jennifer went to the technical college (yes, we still had to be at two places at once again). Last week, we agreed with the principal that we would be assisting in a computer class. However, when we got to the college, we were informed that the computer teacher was not at the college that day, so the computer class was cancelled. Luckily, we were prepared for this outcome (after being in the schools in Boma for three weeks, we had picked up on a few things). We asked the principal which other class we could assist with, and he pointed us to the math class. However, when we got to that class, it turned out that the math teacher wasn’t there either (unfortunately, we were not as prepared for this second setback). We ended up just spending 15 minutes just asking the students questions on what math topics they knew so that we could better prepare for the physics lecture on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, we all headed to Amani’s and continued to work on the PowerPoint. We spent the morning getting more familiar with the software we would be using and working on a project proposal to keep Amani’s informed on the work we were doing. At this point, the main challenge was that we hadn’t yet received the statistics or data we needed to display on the PowerPoint (Amani’s was working on compiling this information for us). This meant that we had some extra downtime in the afternoon, so we got to spend some more time playing with the kids. Andrew continued to make new friends by impressing all the kids (and everyone else) with his backflip skills. He was also able to assist in the kids’ acrobatics class with a coach that comes in weekly. Lauren and Ian spent some time losing to the kids in arm and thumb wrestling (while also being laughed at for having small muscles). Ian also learned how to play tag (and was again outran). While everyone else was playing with the kids, Jennifer had the opportunity to talk with one of the counselors about cultural phycological differences between the US and Tanzania.

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Wednesday was a busy for everyone. In the morning, Andrew and Lauren headed off to the technical college for the last time to lecture in an Engineering Science class. That day they taught physics, specifically the topic of work and energy. Physics proved to be a much easier subject to teach than technical drawing (if you ever find yourself teaching a college level class in Tanzania, stick to subjects that are math based). The kids even asked for homework at the end of class (we could learn something from their enthusiasm about receiving homework). While Andrew and Lauren were teaching, Jennifer and Ian went to Amani’s and continued to work on the project. Andrew and Lauren then joined them at Amani’s in the afternoon. That afternoon, Ian and Lauren went with an Amani IT employee to local shops to look at monitors for the project. They looked at two different types of monitors, one with a computer integrated into the monitor and one that was just basically a TV screen. They decided that the monitor with the computer would be the most cost-effective option while also best serving the needs of the project. Once back at Amani’s, they shared what they had found and made a plan to buy the monitor in the upcoming days.
On Thursday and Friday, we continued working on the PowerPoint while also testing our graphic design skills. Thursday morning, we received some of the statistics and we were able to start finalizing some of the slides. We quickly learned that designing PowerPoint slides that are visually appealing is a lot easier said than done (keep in mind 3 of the 4 of us are engineering students so we really have no idea what shapes and colors look good together). On Friday after tea, Ian and Lauren headed back to the shop to buy the monitor. This proved to be a much bigger challenge than we had anticipated (we had never missed set prices so much in our lives, except for maybe when Ian ended up with his elephant shirt. See blog 1). The story of the price of the monitor is one for another day, but it was not our favorite Tanzanian experience to say the least. We did get the monitor though and brought it back to Amani’s to get to work on setting it up. Unfortunately, the IT employee only works half days on Friday so we weren’t able to get the PowerPoint software on the monitor but we are excited to see pictures of the working monitor when it is all up and running. After finalizing the initial version of the PowerPoint, we had a short goodbye ceremony with the kids and the staff of Amani.

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During our final weekend in Tanzania, we learned how to make Tanzanian Guacamole (apparently Mexico isn’t the only country with amazing Guac) and Chipati (a Tanzanian bread), which proved to be much more challenging than we anticipated, as it took us almost two hours to make. Although after tasting our food, we all agreed that it was definitely worth this amount of effort, as well as some minor skin burns. We also visited Msamaria children’s center, where we gave at least twenty piggy back rides—each. After this visit, we then made it to the airport (surprisingly without losing any luggage) and said our final goodbyes to this amazing country.

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Final Blooper Reel (and other humorous and slightly painful events)
1. It was fitting that our very last interaction with the kids at Amani was them pointing at our hand sanitizer bottles attached to our backpacks and asking, “What’s this?” (We got asked this question by anyone, of any age, and at anytime during this trip)
2. Ian died again, although this time it was Lauren’s fault (since she introduced all of us to a flu, which Ian couldn’t shake for the last two weeks of the trip)
3. When some of the children would try to talk to us in English, they would ask us, “My name is?”. It was very cute. Although to be fair, we probably made that exact same mistake when we tried to talk to them in Swahili.
4. We (intentionally) forgot to mention in the second blog that Lauren, Andrew, and their translator, Sadick, all technically hitch-hiked back to downtown Boma from Nkwamakuu Primary School during one of the days when busses weren’t running. (We chose to wait to disclose this blooper to not scare our parents. Sorry Mom and Dad.)
5. Apparently contact lenses are not only uncommon, but completely unheard of here. We learned this the hard way when Andrew started touching his eyeball to take out his contacts one day, which immediately caused mass confusion and concern from everyone at Nkwamakuu.
6. People in Tanzania still haven’t gotten painstakingly sick of those late 90’s boybands by now like the U.S. has, which is something we learned after listening to “Queen of my Heart” by Westlife for four entire hours on repeat while waiting at our favorite restaurant (and source of free wifi) in Boma.
7. The children LOVE touching the hair of wazungu (white foreigners), and will even rub their faces against our arms to feel our arm hair.

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Finally, we would like to thank you all for taking the time to attempt to comprehend our incoherent blog posts each week. Our trip has been overall amazing and we feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Tanzania. We hope you enjoyed reading about our (mis)adventures and welcome you to make any comments you would like to share with us!
Asante sana na kwa heri!
(Thank you very much and goodbye!)


Wiki Nne: Meet the Newest Bajaji Drivers

Mambo vipi! Over the past week, the Tanzamaniacs had a mixture of good-byes and hellos.

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The week started off well with a trip to the Chemka hot springs. Our favorite bajaji driver (and our favorite person in general), George, drove us part of the way to the springs. Halfway to the springs, on some very sketchy roads, George pulled over and asked Andrew if he wanted to drive. Andrew half jokingly-half nervously said yes, which then prompted George to get out of the vehicle and switch seats with Andrew. After four or five jump starts, and the direct quote from George: “I value my life, mon,” Andrew was finally able to get the bajaji going. After driving for about 5 minutes, George asked if anyone else wanted to drive, which prompted Ian to excitedly yell, “Ummmm YES!” (since his dream is now to become a Bijaji driver). So then Ian drove the bajaji (much better than Andrew did), followed by Lauren (who was as bad as Andrew, if not worse), then Jennifer (who drove the best out of the group). Also, it might be noteworthy to mention that the bajaji was a manual transmission, so all group members can now say that they drove a stick-shift bajaji before they ever drove a stick-shift car. The hot springs turned out to be more like lukewarm springs, but the group did not mind since it was the first warm water they had felt in three weeks (since bucket showers apparently only comes in the cold setting).  Upon entering the springs, the group was swarmed by hordes of flesh-eating fish, making them very uncomfortable (except for Jennifer who seemed to enjoy the madness and insists on calling them merely “kiss nibbles” (we’re not sure how she hasn’t been voted off the island yet)). Ian almost died jumping off a 30 ft tree, while Andrew nearly broke his leg after attempting a double backflip off of the rope swing.  Lauren and Jennifer exercised basic common sense and didn’t come close to dying (in reality, no one actually almost died and the team enjoyed the day swimming in the springs, relaxing, and jumping off of trees).

The work week began much like the ones before, with Lauren and Andrew traveling to Orkolili Secondary School and Ian and Jennifer attempting to travel to Nkwamakuu Primary School. On Monday, Lauren and Andrew taught English to the Form 2 and 3 classes. Due to a minor accident (check out Jennifer’s bloopers), Ian and Jennifer did not make it to Nkwamakuu on Monday, meaning they had to finish up some teaching on Tuesday.
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Tuesday was a crazy day for both set of school teams. The day started with Ian and Jennifer teaching Standard 7 at Nkwamakuu. They led the class in multi-subject Jeopardy (covering the subjects of English, Swahili, Math, and Science) and followed that game up with a round of Math Bingo. They said their goodbyes at Nkwamakuu at the end of this class, which ran late, and hurried off to their next destination that day, Orkolili. There, they were meeting up with Andrew and Lauren to help teach a final lesson of English to Form 1 students followed by leading an HCD workshop with Form 4. Lauren and Jennifer led the workshop for the Form 4 girls and Ian and Andrew led the workshop for the Form 4 boys. Each group tackled different problems as they worked through the 5 Phases of HCD. After the classes, the team said their goodbyes at Orkolili.

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Wednesday was the start of a new adventure for the Tanzamaniacs as they left their home of 3 weeks (Boma Ng’ombe) to go to their new home (Old Moshi Hostel) for their remaining 2 weeks in Moshi. Surprisingly, none of them lost their luggage during the travel and they were even able to fit (barely) all their luggage in one car. It was a good thing that three of the team members are fun-sized (Thanks for the leg-room, Ian). They were all excited to have a day of rest on Wednesday, arriving around 10:30 am. Eva welcomed them to her Hostel and they were instructed to tell Gideon (who also works at the hostel) when they were ready for a tour of the town. They left around 1:30 pm to walk to downtown Moshi, about a half hour walk from the Hostel. Gideon showed them the way to downtown and pointed out a couple of the restaurants that they might enjoy, but there was only one thing that the entire team was looking for… Pizza. It had been 3 weeks since anyone had gotten to eat any cheese and the team had started googling the nearest pizza place during week 2. Lauren asked Gideon if he knew of any good places and he led the way to a restaurant by the name of Indo-Italiano. To say the the team was  excited when they saw that the menu listed about 26 different pizzas would be an understatement. They ended up settling for a four-cheese pizza and cheesy bread (and swearing to come back for more). After pizza, Gideon showed the team where the market place was and then where to go to catch a bus back to the Hostel. Once on the bus, it was the team’s responsibility to make sure that the bus stopped where they needed it to (Gideon had a laugh at the team’s confusion. Very funny, Gideon). This may or may not have caused some flashbacks to being abandoned on day two by their professor. (Very funny, Mary). The team also learned that just like the busses in Boma, people were crammed together like sardines. Good to see some things never change.

After the restful day of Wednesday, the Tanzamaniacs were thrown back into work on Thursday. They started their day traveling to a local Technical College, where they met the principal and introduced themselves. Upon hearing that three out of the four students were studying engineering, the principal proceeded to ask them which classes they would be teaching. Feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure how to say no, they felt as though their plates got loaded with things to do. Initially, they were going to be lecturing two classes a day (we weren’t sure when we had been granted the honor of being a professor but we all agreed we probably were deserving of a pay raise). Lauren and Ian landed on only teaching Technical Drawing for Level 2 on Friday and then discussed with the principal that it would be better to only have them teach two classes the next week. Their second location for the day was at Amani Children’s Home, a refuge for street children found in the area. They got a tour of the facility and a run down of what the home does before enjoying lunch with the students. After lunch, they sat down with Rebecca, Communication Manager, for Amani, and discussed the projects that Amani’s hoped the team could complete while here. One project was to work on creating a welcome display board for the front entrance. They wanted the board to show a slideshow, on a automatic loop, that gave statistics, photos, and videos of things happening at the home. Some of the features they wanted was for it to be automatically updated when they updated their own database. Amani’s hope is to have it up by October 2018, but the team was unsure if this was doable in the short amount of time they are spending there. They expressed that they could get Amani’s a prototype to test and then take back the information to get help from some students at Michigan Tech. After the meeting, everyone got to go meet the children currently at the home. Andrew wowed a group of kids by doing flips in the yard, Ian and Lauren joined in on a small football match, and Jennifer sat to watch, allowing kids to come to her to talk.

On Friday, Lauren and Ian set off to teach Technical Drawing for Level 2 at the Technical College in the morning and Andrew and Jennifer set off to start working on the project at Amani’s. Teaching at the college was definitely the most challenging teaching assignment the team had encountered, especially since they were teaching technical drawing, a topic they had not thought about in two or three years. The lesson went just as well as you would expect a college-level class taught by two (barely) college-age students to go (so much for that pay raise).  By the end of the lecture, the only thing more incomplete than the students notebooks was their understanding of the topic. By the time Ian and Lauren joined Andrew and Jennifer, Andrew had discovered how to PowerPoint to update whenever he updated a spreadsheet on Excel. By the end of the day, the team had figured out how to start up the Raspberry Pi and had created a very simple prototype of a looping PowerPoint presentation with database compatibility.


Saturday was a day of adventure for everyone. Upon asking Eva, she set up a trip to the base of Mount Kilimanjaro that involved visiting the entrance to the Kilimanjaro National Park, a waterfall, a Chagga (tribal) cave, and learning how to make coffee. Their first stop was the starting point for hiking up Kilimanjaro, where they got to learn some history about the mountain and take photos. Since they did not have permits, they were not allowed to go on any of the trails. From there, they headed to Kilasiya waterfalls, where they got a guided tour down to the falls. After climbing down into a ravine, they reached a river where they could view the waterfall from a distance. Thinking this was the end of the hike, they took pictures and got ready to head back up. However, instead of the hike being over, it was really just beginning. They all took off their shoes and were lead one by one across the river with the guide as an anchor (in the US it would be breaking probably at least about 100 safety rules). After making it across the river, they climbed barefoot over boulders to reach the bottom of the waterfall, which pictures just don’t do justice.
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After the waterfalls, the group was taken to a Chagga cave, where they also learned how to make coffee from raw coffee beans. The cave was a guided tour, starting with a brief history of why the caves were created. Since Mount Kilimanjaro produces an atmosphere great for growing many crops, many nomadic tribes tried to claim the area. The Chagga Tribe and Masai Tribe often competed for the land, so the Chagga Tribe created caves to protect themselves from the Masai. The caves had three main parts: the opening, where the Chagga would defend themselves against the Masai, the mortuary, where they would discard of the Masai’s bodies, and the living quarters, where the families would go when the Masai came. The cave was a series of tunnels, dug out using rocks, wood, and mammal bones. The entrance went down into the earth and led to a small indent where the Chagga guard would wait for the Masai to enter. The Masai would usually enter in two groups, the first group would be large and often would hit their heads on the low ceilings of the tunnel and the second group would be small and often crawled through the tunnel. The Chagga, using a weapon appropriately called the skull crusher, would hit the invading Masai over the head. Those bodies would then be taken to the mortuary, where the Chagga would dismember the bodies at nights, throwing the pieces into the river below to be washed away in the darkness so civilians wouldn’t see (we’re not sure why after explaining this they handed us the weapons they used to use to perform these actions). When it was a small group invading, the Chagga would use another weapon to capture the Masai and would keep the group as slaves. Our guide led us through the tunnels, explaining what would happen in each area before leading us back up. Once out of the tunnels, the guide took the tour group to a Chagga hut and explained how it was set up, with the husband having his own bed and the wife sleeping next to the children. Half of the hut had a place for goats or other livestock to stay and they also built overhead storage areas, much like an loft in a barn. After finishing with the history of the Chagga, the tour guided led a lesson in the process of coffee making, starting with how the beans were de-shelled, roasted, pounded into powder, and boiled. The team got to taste some of the coffee in the end.

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Week 4 (Nne, not Quatro, Lauren) Bloopers

Andrew

-At the hot springs, Andrew, a water resource engineering student, asked where the water came from.

-Couldn’t tell the difference between coffee and chocolate, and ingested way more caffeine than he had intended (as if Andrew needs even more energy).

Lauren

-Wanted to impress our bajaji driver by driving no-handed (she was actually stressed by the whole stick shift thing).  He was not impressed.

-Apparently thinks dogs and pigs are the same animals

-Forgot the first rule of Tanzania and contaminated her toothbrush (in her defense there was running water that day, an exciting moment for all)

Jennifer

-Sunday: While getting her bajaji driving lesson, thought running over some goats would give her a speed boost (she missed, so I guess we will never know)

-Monday morning: Deciding that the week hadn’t been difficult enough already (yet) proceeded to impale her knee on a fence post. Scaring Ian by almost passing out several times (*pole sana*).

Ian

-At the Chagga cave tour on Saturday, the tour guide asked where bananas came from, which Ian gave a very proud of answers “trees!”… not exactly the answer they were looking for.

Group

– Got hungry so they went to a pub.  There wasn’t any food there so they tried a restaurant.  Apparently restaurants in Tanzania only serve beer. Next week they’ll try a hotel. Stay tuned to find out if they will be able to successfully order a meal at a restaurant in the coming week.


Wiki Tatu: Switching things up

Poa! We have just finished our third week here in Tanzania, which has been full of adventures, challenges, and fun experiences. We now feel well adjusted to our daily life in Boma Ng’ombe and our work in the two schools. Also, we have an amazing view of Mount Kilimanjaro from Boma!

Kilimanjaro Jennifers good pic that is better than all of ours combined (1)

Andrew and Lauren’s Week 3 Adventures:

On Monday, Andrew and Lauren had their last full project day at Nkwamakuu. The morning started with a new record number of people on the bus, with 25 stuffed into a van made for 14 (we’re always impressed by how many people they can pack). After arriving at the school, we worked some more on the handwashing stations and taught the headmaster of the school how to play the math games we had been playing with the students the previous week. We also taught him and our translator, Sadick, how to play Go Fish and learned a Tanzanian card game called Last Card, which is very similar to Uno. After playing some card games and Simon Says with the students, we had the chance to talk to the headmaster about potential projects for next year’s team. We discussed the challenges that the school faces and ways that our program can collaborate with the school to help work through some of those challenges.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we switched schools with Ian and Jennifer and headed to Orkalili Secondary School. After arriving at 7:30 and doing some introductions with the students and receiving our nicknames (Lauren is Hayika and Andrew is Masawi), we jumped right into action and taught one of the Form 4 (12th grade) classes Organic Chemistry. This proved to be a challenging lecture, as Lauren had not done organic chemistry in three years (and only for one week in University Chemistry 2) and Andrew never had to learn organic chemistry (at least until now). Overall, it didn’t go too bad, the students are very bright and caught on quickly. Some even seemed to have already taught themselves the material on their own! After the chemistry lecture, we were given about a half hour to prepare to teach Form 1 (9th grade) math. They wanted us to play a math game with the students, so we decided to play Jeopardy. The activity went well, except it was a little difficult due to the class size at Orkolili. The Form 1 class had about 50 students in it. After teaching the two lectures, we thought our day was over and that we were going to spend the rest of the day preparing for the next day. However, shortly after finishing our lecture, we were surprised to learn that wasn’t the case, and that we would actually be traveling with some students to the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology. The university is about an hour from the town we are staying in and probably has the best campus lawn maintenance in all of Africa. At the university, the students were led through a short tech workshop with some college students visiting from South Korea. We helped the students come up with problems in their community that could be solved with different types of sensors, which was the primary technology that the South Koreans were presenting on. After the workshop, we discussed what we would be teaching the following day (Wednesday). The teachers told us that we could teach chemistry (as if we didn’t teach enough chemistry already) to the Form 2 class and if we could lead Form 3 through an activity that involved “balancing equations.” We assumed that this would be solving simple algebraic equations, but on Wednesday, we realized that they meant balancing chemical equations (yay, more chemistry). Despite this misunderstanding and our shared dread of teaching chemistry, both classes actually went really well. We were able to lead the students through several example problems, which the students were able to understand a lot better, especially after we walked around talking with them one on one. The experience felt very rewarding after seeing the students understand the material a lot more, especially after they thanked us several times.

Lauren teaching evil chem

Ian and Jennifer’s Week 3 Adventures:

Ian and I had our “last day” at Orkolili on Monday, and the day was moderately uneventful. We missed our bus heading to Orkolili and had to take a Bijaji all the way out, which wasn’t all that bad. We got to the school just in time for the Monday morning activities. On Mondays, the students lined up by class and gender to sing national songs, honor the rising of the Tanzanian flag, and have the teachers give various announcements for the week. Mama Mcha gave us a chance to address the students also, we both thanked the students for being patient and kind to us as we taught them and wished them the best on their future studies. Once announcements were completed, the students went off to do another Monday morning activity, exams. During this time, Ian and I discussed the plans for the day and prepared our lessons. We taught a Human Centered Design crash course to Form 3, which, for as quickly put together and not having a whole lot of teaching time, it seemed to go very well. The students had plenty of problems they would like to address and even more ideas on how to address some of those problems. We asked them to choose an issue and work through defining the problem and brainstorming ideas on how they could fix it. Ian and I talked them through how they would then prototype and test their ideas. After finishing up with Form 3, we got the chance to teach Form 1 English. Since it we were teaching present tense, it went a little better than our attempt to teach Form 2 how to properly answer a phone call. The students were great as we worked through different examples, making our last teaching experience at Orkolili a good one.

Tuesday was the start of new adventures for Ian and I, instead of waking up at 6 am to catch a 7:10 am bus to Orkolili, we got to wake up at 7 am to meet up with Sadick at the bus stop at 8 am to head to Nkwamakuu.  Lucky for us, Lauren and Andrew had prepared the day’s activities for us, so all we had to do was implement them. We were given the task of teaching Standard 7, students who are similar in age to United States’ 7th graders. We first led a Jeopardy game reviewing different Science topics (First Aid, Excretion System, Hormone Systems, HIV/Aids, and Matter). Though the students struggled with a few of the questions, the majority were very easy for them to answer. After Jeopardy and Chai Break, Ian and I introduced a math game to Standard 7, the same one with the cards that Lauren and Andrew had introduced to many of the other grade levels the week before. We ran through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. After going through many rounds of each, which the students breezed through easily, we used the cards to practice learning English numbers. The goal was to see how many cards a student could get through in a minute, the goal was at least 30. As Ian walked around from group of students to group of students, I just kneeled in front of the first row desk and started going from student to student. At first, the students went individually, getting to about 28 cards each time, but then they started working together and as a group got to about 30 cards. We were having a lot of fun, one student successfully naming 30 cards on his own. It was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, Ian and I worked with Standard 7 again. Over the course of Tuesday night, I created a Jeopardy game that would help with learning English words, categories was Kalena (Calendar), Michezo (sports), Safari mnyama (Safari Animals), Shamba mnyama (Farm Animals), and Namba (numbers). We named it Unasemeja…? (How do you say…?) and ran it by asking the students how they would say specific words in English or Swahili, for example we would either ask “unasemeja mbuze kwa kiigereza?” and they would answer “goat” or “how do you say rhinoceros in Swahili?” and they would answer “kifaroo”. After finishing our game of Jeopardy, Ian and I decided to burn time until lunch by playing Pictionary with the students, which slowly turned into the students asking us to draw specific animals (like monkeys) and then rating who drew it better. Jennifer won most of the time. After lunch, Ian taught the students how to play kickball. We split the students into two teams, trying our best to make it equal boys and girls. Though we only spent about 30-40 minutes playing, the students seemed to be having a lot of fun after the initial confusion, even though the rules still were not completely clear to them. It was a good way to end our day on Wednesday.

The Whole Gang Together Again

Holding hands nkwamakuu andrews bad ideaPavlis flag nkwamakuu

On Thursday and Friday, all four of us got to spend our days going to the schools together. On Thursday, we all went to Nkwamakuu because the headmaster wanted us to have a chance to say our goodbyes as a group. We also finished the hand-washing stations after much testing and observation in the past week. We built some wooden ledges for bars of soap to be placed and made some adjustments to the ropes. Then, we taught the children how to wash their hands with the stations, how to refill the water jugs, and how to adjust the rope if needed. We also told them that they could always make improvements to the stations or build more in the future. After finishing up this work with the hand-washing stations, we were able to meet with all the teachers at the school to show them the games we had been teaching the students, get feedback on how the past two weeks had gone, and discuss future projects. The meeting went well, especially since the teachers seemed to be really interested in the games and gave us some good ideas for future teams. They then gave us some traditional Maasai cloths and showed us how to wear them, which we were all very thankful for.

Women at work

(Finished hand-washing station and Lauren and Jennifer proving that women can work)

On Friday, we all first went to Orkolili and then traveled to the Nelson Mandela University (the same one Lauren and Andrew had gone to earlier in the week) for a science fair. Orkolili had three student teams participating and we went to just see all the projects and the university (or at least that’s what we were supposed to have done). Within 10 minutes of our arrival at the science fair, a random man came up to us and asked if we were university students studying science.  We confirmed this and he proceeded to ask us what major we were pursuing.  Upon telling him he said something along the lines of “Perfect. We need judges.” and began handing us stacks of paper.  While we were still in a state of shock and confusion, he began going over the rubric for judging and which projects we were assigned to.  Each of us (besides Jennifer because she opted out on the condition of being a psych major) were assigned five projects to judge by looking, listening, and asking questions.  The fair lasted about two hours followed by a couple talks by university students and a brief lunch of rice, vegetables, and chopped up cow (think if someone skinned a cow, cut off the head and tail, and put the rest in a blender).  After lunch, the winners of the competition were announced, with the first place spot going to students who found a way to manufacture fertilizers and concrete strengtheners using hair waste from salons (which Ian, being a materials engineer, completely geeked out over).

Jennifer super tall

 

Week 3 Bloopers:

Ian and Jennifer: After Jennifer spent a long time sawing the wood for the soap holders, Ian saw an opportunity to make the job easier by stomping on a section of the wood to break it off. While still unaware that this section was the vital piece we needed to be attached, he felt very proud of his successful stomp…for about 2 seconds until he realized his mistake, which is when he started screaming and running away with his arms flailing. Jennifer then joked, “leave it to a man to ruin a woman’s hard work.”

(The poor, innocent piece of wood that Ian killed)
(The poor, innocent piece of wood that Ian killed)

Andrew: Andrew’s army knife broke slightly while building the wooden structures (yes, this simple little project proved difficult for all of us). The next day, Andrew decided that he should try fixing it by pressing down on the sharp side, which could only result in one outcome: accidentally cutting his finger (Don’t worry Mom, it’s not a bad cut).

Lauren: Lauren finally spent a whole week without speaking any Spanish. We are all very proud.

(Ian "blue-steeling" it up while Jennifer actually works...before the incident)
(Ian “blue-steeling” it up while Jennifer actually works…before the incident)

 

Again, thank you for reading our blog! This upcoming Wednesday, we will leave Boma Ng’ombe and spend our final week and a half in Moshi, so please check again next week to find out which one of us loses our luggage during the travel!


Wiki Mbili: New Kids In School

Mambo! We had a very eventful second week. The Monday after the workshop concluded, we met up with our professor, Mary Raber, and Ewald Tesha of Asante Africa. Together, we drove around the Kilimanjaro area to visit all of the schools we would be attending later in the week.  Unfortunately we still couldn’t cut a break from being jammed together as Tesha’s car only had enough seats for five people, so Tesha and Mary got to sit very comfortably in the front while the four of us where packed into the rear like sardines. Tesha first took us to the district offices, where we had to get approval from the higher-ups in the education system to work in the schools. Upon receiving that we visited the first school: Nkwamakuu Primary School. Nkwamakuu has Standard 1-7 students, which is about equivalent to 1st through 7th grade in the American education system. We met with the headmaster, had Chai (a sort of breakfast), and toured the school. Before we left, the teachers gathered all of the students in the yard and then sang welcome songs and introduced themselves.  After we introduced ourselves to them (which included Andrew doing a backflip) we packed back into the car and left for Orkolili Secondary School.  At Orkolili we were given a brief tour of the school by Mama Mcha, the founder of the school. The school is unique because it not only teaches academics but also vocational skills such as culinary, electronics, and auto repair skills. This allows students to be well prepared for life after secondary school, whether they get a job or go to university. After a short visit at Orkolili, we all went to Moshi, which is the second town we will staying at in about two weeks. We were able to meet with the organizations we will be working with while we are there. We first stopped at Amani’s Children Home, which houses homeless children and tries to reunite the children with their family members, if possible. After a short visit there, we visited the Old Moshi Hotel, which is the hostel we will be staying at while in Moshi. They will also be organizing the work we will be doing there. After returning back to Boma, we decided how we would be splitting up for the week, since we had planned to send two team members to Nkwamakuu Primary School and two team members to Orkolili Secondary School.  We decided that splitting up would allow us to spend more quality time at both of the schools.

 

Nkwamakuu Primary School

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Andrew and Lauren spent Tuesday through Friday at Nkwamakuu. On Monday we had discussed with the teachers that they would like us to teach some math, science, and English classes at the school. We agreed that on Tuesday, we would observe some classes to get an idea of what the students were learning and what the teaching style was at the school. However, we soon realized that the school had something else in mind (we would also quickly learn that this would become a common theme throughout the week). As soon as we arrived on Tuesday, the teachers asked us which classes we were teaching. We responded by asking if we could observe the class first, and they agreed. But, we are pretty sure that they did not entirely understand because they still proceeded to set up the Standard 3 (3rd grade) class for us to teach. Luckily, this is something we had kind of prepared for. Prior to traveling, one of the projects that we had identified was a way to make math classes more fun for the students, since many Tanzanian classes are heavily lecture based. We decided that one way we could do this is by playing some math games with cards. We brought several decks of cards over to Tanzania and were able to introduce the game that morning. With the Standard 3 students, we worked on basic subtraction and addition skills. The game is kind of like war, where games are played with two students and one deck of cards. Each student flips over a card and then the students add or subtract the numbers on the cards. Both the students and teachers responded very positively to the game. The students said that they had fun playing the game, while the teachers said it helped the students learn math skills quickly. We ended up showing the math game to Standard 4 and Standard 5 students also, but instead of addition and subtraction we did multiplication and fractions. Along with math, we also taught some science classes. In science, we played Jeopardy with the students. Although none of the students had heard of the game before, they overall seemed to really enjoy a new teaching method (and also really liked the candy we gave to them for participating).

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Additionally, on Tuesday, we asked the headmaster if there were any water, sanitation, or hygiene related problems at the school. The headmaster then walked us over to one of the hand washing stations, which consisted of a bucket with a twist nozzle. He explained that these current stations were unsanitary because the students have to touch the dirty nozzle to close it after they wash their hands. We then agreed that we could work on a project together to create a more sanitary system. After some research and discussion with the headmaster and teachers, we designed a Tippy Tap system that was modified to meet the school’s needs. As shown in the video below, the design allows the children to wash their hands by simply stepping on a wooden lever, so they do not have to touch anything after they wash their hands. It took a couple days to buy the materials, including some metal bars that the hardware store employee cut with just a simple handsaw, which still baffles us. On Friday, we were able to build the three stations and test them with the children. In this upcoming week, we still need to test the stations more and gather feedback to ensure that they will be used effectively by the children, and then we will adjust accordingly.

New imagy

One of the biggest challenges at Nkwamakuu is the language barrier. Most of the students (and teachers) only speak Swahili. Luckily, we had a translator with us, however, we struggled sometimes to communicate with the students. Although the language barrier has been difficult, it has been a good way for us to learn a lot of new words in Swahili (especially lots of new math words!). Also, in our free time at the school, we had lots of fun playing Simon says and soccer with the kids, as well as pretending to be lions eating each other (which the kids found oddly entertaining).

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Orkolili Secondary School

Orkalili

Jennifer and Ian spent their first week (Tuesday through Friday) at Orkolili Secondary School. The structure of the school is very similar to a typical high school in the United States, with four main class groups, called Forms. Going into Tuesday, Jennifer and Ian were unsure of what the week at Orkolili would entail but they were looking forward to the possibilities that laid before them. Upon arriving on Tuesday, they met up with their main contact, a teacher by the name of Joe, who proceeded to explain a little bit about what they would be doing before taking them around to each of the classes to introduce themselves (stating their names, ages, and what they are studying at Michigan Tech). Each classroom has about 37-58 students since each classroom houses one form, except for Form 4f, which is housed in two classrooms, making each class size about 37-38. In the Form 3 class, Joe asked the students to assign Jennifer and Ian Swahili names. Ian was named Mushi (Moo-she) and Jennifer was named Manka (Mah-n-kah). Throughout the week, they switched between their U.S. names and their new names, many students and teachers just called them Mushi and Manka. they quickly grew accustomed to responding when their new names were called.

Throughout the week, Jennifer and Ian taught a few classes. their teaching, though slightly unconventional, seemed to work. they started out their teaching adventure with English to Form 2, with the topic of “How to Properly Answer a Telephone Call”. At first, they thought this would be simple, but it proved to actually be quiet challenging, since Jennifer and Ian soon realized that they did not usually make phone calls and, when they did, usually did not use proper answering techniques. They did their best and Ian taught the class to say “WASSUP” when answering a close friend’s phone call. Tuesday afternoon was spent presenting their areas of study to each Form 4 class. Ian discussed Engineering in General along with his specialty of Material Engineering, trying to build up enthusiasm within the students. Jennifer discussed Psychology and the jobs that are available. The first Form 4 class seemed to be interested in knowing about Jennifer and Ian, whereas the second Form 4 class spend their entire time asking questions about science and engineering, allowing Ian to excitedly explain many concepts to them. Since Jennifer did not get a chance to present on Psychology, she got an entire class period to present on Thursday. On Wednesday, they observed a Form 4 math lesson and Ian taught Trigonometric Functions to Form 3. The students responded very well and enjoyed Ian’s lesson so much, that he was asked to teach again on Thursday. He decided to continue onto Trigonometric Inverse Functions on Thursday and, again, the students seemed to enjoy his lesson. Thursday afternoon, Ian taught Chemistry to a Form 4 class and, again, the students enjoyed it so much that he was asked to teach the introduction to Organic Chemistry on Friday morning, which was also a very good lesson. Though Jennifer did not do much teaching, she got to watch the lessons and how Ian’s excitement of the subjects was passed on to the students.

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On Fridays, Orkolili ends classes around 12 pm and has various activities in the afternoon. At 12, the students break off into different classrooms, according to their religious background, to have a worship service. Jennifer and Ian were asked to join/observe one of these groups and they both obliged. The students sang songs of praise, said prayers, and were lead in devotion by a pastor (probably) or leader. The lesson they got to hear, and slightly understand thanks to a helpful student, was on Ruth 1:1-18. It was a really cool experience, hearing all the different groups in the classrooms singing and watching the group they were sitting in singing songs of praise. The religious services were followed by a short break, and then the students broke into different clubs until lunchtime. After lunch, all the students gather at the sports fields near campus to participate in different sports. They have basketball, football (soccer), and song and dance circle. While Ian ran off to play football on the Form 1-3’s team against Form 4, Jennifer walked around with a few of the girls and took pictures of some of the activities. Though Ian got exhausted and cut up from playing, he had some fun playing with the kids. Jennifer got a chance to talk to the girls about the sports that they liked and learn some more Swahili. It was nice to get to know some of the students.
Jennifer and Ian had a few struggles to overcome during their week at Orkolili, the biggest being the language barrier. Even though Orkolili pushes the students to speak English, they still had to make sure they spoke slowly and emphasized certain words to ensure that they were understood. The smaller struggles were being asked to prepare for a class within an hour and then teaching, since they both have limited experience in teaching, they both picked it up quickly though and Ian’s enthusiasm spilled into the classroom igniting the students interest in their studies.

 

Weekly Blooper Reel

Andrew: After being dropped off by the bus when returning from Nkwamakuu, Andrew and Lauren were berated by dozens of bajaji drivers trying to give them rides. While Andrew was turning around to tell them “Hapana Asante” (No thank you), he was nearly hit by a bus, which wasn’t following the traffic laws (but then again, neither does any vehicle here…at all).

Lauren: After apparently not learning from her mistake from last week (responding with “Si”), Lauren responded to a student on Wednesday by saying, “Bien.” Again Lauren, that is SPANISH, not Swahili.

Jennifer: On the very first day of teaching at Orkolili, Jennifer had already received a marriage proposal, which wasn’t asked in the way you would expect either. She was specifically asked how many cows would be enough to have her hand in marriage (Ian was secretly jealous, and also wondering the same thing).

Ian: After an already exhausting day of teaching on Friday, Ian was asked to play a 90 minute game of soccer. Yeah, that did not go well. He obtained several cuts and bruises, which he mistakenly thought could be cleaned with Lysol wipes (you know, the wipes you use to completely disinfect kitchen counter tops…and that have a big warning label saying “Do not put on skin”).

All: While waiting in downtown Boma for our Bajaji driver George (who is our hero) to pick us up, we witnessed probably the funniest thing we have experienced this trip. A bus was pulling into the parking lot when it suddenly stopped, causing the motorcycle behind it to suddenly stop as well. The motorcyclist became frustrated, and although he didn’t have a horn, that didn’t stop him from releasing his anger out onto the bus driver by yelling, “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP” with the funniest angry face. We (especially Andrew) cannot stop mimicking it and laughing constantly.

 

Asante Sana (thank you very much) for reading our blog! Check it again sometime next week when we have wifi to upload our week 3 post!