Thursday, June 3, 2010

Last Day of Class

It's true. Tori and I today taught our last lesson, thus making our last impact on these impressionable young Tanzanian minds.

Let's review what we've successfully accomplished as apprentice teachers of English and mathematics:

1) Some of the students know realize that 7 comes between 6 and 8. Not all of them. But at least the bright ones.

2) The teachers no longer say, "goody," but instead say, "good."

And, as a finale, our proudest accomplishment:

3) We managed to teach the children that classic masterwork of children's music: Ten Little Monkeys. Never mind that we've spent the past three weeks jumping up and down screaming "Ten little monkeys / Jumping on the bed!" to the amusement of every teacher in the school--the kids love it. And Tori and I like to think it's teaching them to count, despite the fact that they mostly just like leaping around like... well, monkeys.

In all seriousness, though, looking back on the past four weeks, we can see definite improvement in certain students. Not all, of course, but in many of them. And, moreover, we've taught lots of adult classes while we've been here, teaching (or attempting to teach, anyway) things like articles and possessives.

If nothing else, I can say now that even witnessing minute progress from a student is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.

I promise that's the only trite (though true) sentiment I'll express for the remainder of this post, don't worry.

And so now Tori and I begin the slow process of preparing to go home-AKA locating the clothes and trinkets scattered hither and yon by a curious 5-year-old and arranging transportation to the airport. We fly out Saturday around 11 PM (or 4 PM EST) and arrive in Atlanta Sunday at 5:20. Between now and then, we'll be taking the kids to the beach one last time, going dancing Friday night, and touring a hospital a Dutch donor to the school established a few years ago.

Probably, then, I won't have time to say how much I can't wait to see you all when I get home. But I can't wait to see you all, just in case any of you were wondering.

As I have a 20-something hour plane ride to look forward to on Saturday, I expect I'll have plenty of time to reflect on my month in Tanzania and write something appropriately profound. Until then, however, I hope everyone is enjoying this first week of June!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Exploits in Zanzibar

This is going to be one of those cheesy posts where I gush about how beautiful the place I visited was... so if you're not in the mood, feel free to skip it. Seriously, though, I wish I could post pictures, because I definitely do not have the poetry to descibe Zanzibar.

It's a spice island, so it's incredibly green, with plantations growing everything from cloves to cinnamon. It also served as a trade port--the hub moving Arabic and Indian consumer goods (cloth, salt, brassware) into Eastern and Southern Africa in exchange for exotic raw materials (gold, ivory, and mangrove poles). It was also the final destination for East African slaves bound for Asia and the Middle East.

Tori and I explored on our own, using our residency permits to secure bettern deals at our hotel and for our boat ride. We witnessed firsthand the relics of several hundred years of history, from the Sultan's palace to the Portuguese fort. We also saw the site of the old slave market--there's now an Anglican church built over most it--and the spice markets--which are still thriving.

It's definitely worth a visit for anyone in the East African neighborhood--the people are incredibly hospitable, it isn't overrun with tourists, and the beaches are pristine.

Expect more about it when I have a faster Internet connection and can share pictures!

Until then, hope everyone is having a lovely summer!