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!
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.
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
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.
(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).
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.”
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.
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!