Three Is Always Better Than One

Thursday, May 11th 2017

Tuesday afternoon, after my first day of class, I came back home to find out that a new volunteer was coming to my homestay!

The guy who lived in her room had left the night before without saying a word. His name is Orlando, I had only seen him once during my 4 days here when he still lived at the house. I thought he was weird from the beginning. He’s from England (he’s African) but he has a wife from Tanzania, a kid and he was a volunteer…? He was never home during the day and he came back really late at night. I was really happy that he had left. He was at the house for two months. I secretly hoped he would leave so the new volunteer would live with me.  I couldn’t believe my luck. Anyway, more about Orlando later, the story gets very interesting.

I was eating lunch when Ana, the new volunteer, came in. She’s Brazilian and had stayed in South Africa for two months volunteering in a hostel. She had found both the hostel and our current school from workaway. I also found this volunteer opportunity on workaway if anyone’s interested. This website offers the cheapest way to travel (sponsor me workaway).

A typical African meal: green banana (tastes like potato) and meat stew with rice


We went to the organization’s office after lunch where another new volunteer was staying! Her name is Ingrid and she is from Italy. She’s older and works full time at a hotel. She has one month off each year in May when the hotel is closed and she uses that time to travel. She has a beautiful Italian accent and says si instead of yes. When I talk to her she often says, “Ahhh siii”. I love it.

I was excited to be meeting two volunteers in one day. The three and a half days I spent here alone was so dull. By the third night I had contemplated if coming here was a mistake. I wanted to go home. Did I spend all that money buying a plane ticket, my insurance, medication, visa… for nothing?? Those thoughts disappeared immediately when I started talking to Ana and Ingrid. I’m a social person; I need people to talk to in order to survive.

Ana on the left and Sam (the other program coordinator) on the right

I spent the afternoon in the office editing and posting my blog posts (the office has wifi). Ingrid was looking through my english book and Ana was on her cellphone. Ana looked like she wanted to die. Her trip from South Africa to Tanzania took 24 hours (I know right?!) because there was no direct flight. But she was determined to not sleep until the night, strong girl.

I woke up the next day and went to school alone at 8 am. African time is fairly lax. School starts at 8 am but when I got there at 8:05, students were still strolling in. I had a long day ahead of me; back to back math classes, and back to back english classes. Each period is 40 minutes long.

I had first period free so I spent it preparing the material. The math teacher for my class was there too so I asked him some questions regarding his teaching methods. He’s only 21 but had taught at this school since he was 18. He is currently studying to get in to a university in Tanzania (I forgot which one). He asked me if I was married and if people in Canada marry in university. This is the question I get asked the most here. After I finished teaching, we chatted again and he tried to ask me for my number without really asking for my number.
Him:  So when you are not in school and teaching, I can text you and say hi hahaha.
Me: Hahaha okay.
And then I left.
Is every man in Tanzania looking for a wife.

The math teacher told me that he has two math classes at the same time, so I have to teach the class 5 math classes by myself… I am only supposed to be an assistant. I overheard two teachers talking, they said that a couple of teachers had stopped showing up one day. Some classes have not had a math or science class in two weeks. This is why teachers need to be paid more.

My class was a lot better on my second day. They were more responsive, quiet and overall more pleasant. It was very encouraging. The look on their faces when they are listening to you or when they understand something, there are no words to describe this feeling. I have always loved teaching. People have told me that I should consider teaching as a professional career, but I’ve always brushed it aside. Chinese parents do not aspire their kids to be teachers. Maybe professors, but not teachers.

My beautiful class, they look sweet but can make chaos rain

In math, the children learned about how to convert decimals in to fractions. You do these things for so long that you almost forget you had to learn it at some point. Some children really understood fraction simplification but some were just completely lost. Most children stayed in class during break to work on math and I could help those who struggled.

In english, I did mostly listening and comprehension. They do not have workbooks so everything I do has to be on the board. I read a story and had them answer questions about what I just read. Their comprehension is fairly good, I was impressed. I also did a dictation, I read five sentences and they wrote it down. Sometimes they could not understand what I was saying, slowing down and over-articulating didn’t help. They pronounce their “er” as “ah”. So “ov-ah”, “clos-ah” instead of over and closer. I hope they get used to my “accent” soon.

The class working hard on math problems

My funny story of the day, during English one of the girls starts crying. I asked the reason why, and the entire class pointed their fingers at this one boy sitting beside her. He said he took her pencil and was throwing it around but was going to give it back. I had the girl sit somewhere else and tried to give the boys a talk. They sit in the back left corner of the room; a bunch of trouble makers.
I told them that if they’re not nice to girls then they will not be able to find a wife when they grow up. They thought it was pretty funny. I told that boy (I still don’t know most of their names) to be nicer since none of the girls wanted to sit near him. Then, I made him apologize to her, and I made the girl forgive him. This guy puts his head down AND STARTS CRYING. I gave up and went back to teaching. He was okay after a few minutes.


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