Long time no talk (UPDATE)!

Sorry for the lack of updates for the past couple of weeks. Life in Arusha became more and more routine, I didn’t feel the need to write about every single thing. Also, posting these blog posts was using up a lot of data. But these blog posts aren’t for me, they’re for my friends and family back home who want to know what I’m up to. So I’m going to make a compromise, to post more often but without pictures. I will try to make a video about my Tanzania trip at the end, so you can see all my best photos and memories.

Right now I’m in Zanzibar and here’s how that happened:

Before I left for Tanzania, I hung out with a friend whom I haven’t seen in two years. She told me her boyfriend went to Tanzania and loved it. He also went to Zanzibar and said it was very beautiful. It was my first time hearing about Zanzibar, I didn’t do ANY research about Tanzania before going. I didn’t want to “travel”, I didn’t have the money for it. I just wanted to volunteer and learn about the culture. But after hearing about the beautiful island of Zanzibar from my friend, I decided that I had to go. Initially, I wanted to spend a month there, so I went on workaway that night and found a host in Zanzibar. I sent them a message and waited patiently for their reply.

Days passed and nothing. So while in Arusha I started looking for other places in Zanzibar, maybe even Dar es Salaam. I wasn’t very happy in Arusha (so much to tell you, but later). I was eager to find a new host. I messaged a few people but only one from Dar es Salaam replied. I had to pay money for this place as well, but not as much. I paid $70 USD in Arusha a week and there I only had to pay $50 USD. Well luckily for me, the first Zanzibar host replied after two weeks! She was away and could not respond sooner. She told me that the accomodation and food in Zanzibar is free. I could not have been happier.

During this time, Ana told me that she wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. For those of you who are unaware, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa. I had the intention of going, but no real conviction. When Ana said the reason she came to Tanzania was to climb Kilimanjaro, I wanted to join her on this adventure. She said she was going to go on the sixth week of our volunteering stay since she had plans to go to Zimbabwe afterwards. We found a local guide who lived a 5 minute walk away from our house. The trip to Kilimanjaro was perfect, I will have a post later on all about it!

That was the new plan, five weeks in Arusha, one week on Kilimanjaro, and the rest of my six weeks here in Zanzibar. It could not have turned out more perfect. I’m in Zanzibar now and enjoying every moment.

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Kids Say the Funniest Things

I haven’t talked too much about my kids yet, which is a shame because they’re the best part of my trip. I teach class 5, which are 9 to 12 year olds. I’ve been teaching them for almost three weeks and I’ve only finally learnt all their names.

The geography teacher asked me at the end of my first week to teach for him. I couldn’t really understand why, he just said, can you help me. I said sure. Then he gave me the geography book and told me which section to teach. He said that it was going to be on the exam.
Teaching any science subject is quite simple at the elementary age. You basically write everything on the board and the kids copy it. There’s no conceptual knowledge, everything is fact based and all the kids have to do is memorize it.

I’m a slow writer on the chalk board. I write slow and unnecessarily big. Compared to the other teachers who have spent years writing on the board, I look like a child learning to write.
On my first day of teaching geography, I spent most of the class writing the notes. When break started, I continued to write because I wanted to get ahead. Most of the kids had left to play outside but some of the kids stayed to finish copying.
They grumbled and said, “teachah, why are you still writing?”, but then continued to copy. Then finally Judith (one of my brightest students, she’s this little tiny girl, adorable) cried out, “TEACHAH, YOU’RE SUPPOSE TO HAVE TEA WITH THE OTHER TEACHAHS”.
I died.

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The other girls of my class. Please don’t mind the horrible selfie. Judith is the one in the blue hat.
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Some of the girls in my class.

The teachers here all drink tea together in the office during break and eat mendazi (deep fried bread, basically an unfrosted donut). I usually play with the kids instead cause all the teachers speak in Swahili. I feel pretty out of place.

Another funny story from geography:

I taught them about different minerals that are mined in East Africa my first geography class. My second geography class, I asked them to make a chart listing all the minerals, where they’re found and what they’re used for. They’re pretty much just putting their notes into a chart so it’s easier for them to study.
I told them to write one mineral at a time on the chart and to fill in all the information for that mineral before writing down the next mineral. That way you’re sure to have enough space for all your notes.
One kid, Abdulrazza (mouthful, I know) had written all the minerals in a column which left no space for notes on the side. He asked if he should make a new chart, I said no, you can just cross out some of the minerals to make more space. Then he stared at me with wide eyes and said, “but teachah, my mothah will beat me”.
Oh my goodness, these children are the reason I live.

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The troublemakers of the class. Abdulrazza is the one in the light blue hoodie.

This may come as a shock to some people, but they hit children here in school. It’s not physical abuse, it’s “disciplinary”.
Julia teaches a preschool class for the entire morning. When Ana and I don’t have class, we go to Julia’s to bother her. Her kids are so cute. The teacher for that class teaches the younger kids while Julia teaches the slightly older ones on the other side of the room. I haven’t seen the teacher do any actual teaching. She goes over the homework with one student at a time, meanwhile the rest of the class does nothing.

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Julia singing outside with the preschool kids.
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Ana helping teach Julia’s class.

One day, the class was going INSANE. Julia gave up teaching her students because the younger ones were so loud. They were running around, moving chairs, lifting tables (this little boy was holding the entire table bench over his head) and screaming. It was like watching a zoo.
The teacher finally had enough and yelled at them. She told them to line up against a wall and proceeded to give each kid three slaps on the hand with a ruler. The kids who had gotten their slaps went to sit down at the desk. They weren’t gentle slaps, they had some girth to it.
Some kids handled it like it was nothing. They showed no emotion and sat down like nothing happened. Some kids started crying and others tried to move their hands to avoid being slapped, but that just made the teacher hit them more.

I was unfazed. My dad had hit me like that a couple of times when I was younger. It was nothing new to me. But Julia and Ana were so distraught. Julia asked if she should tell the teacher to stop, and Ana started crying. They couldn’t believe that teachers can do that to children. They know that it’s cultural and it’s not their place to judge. It got kinda awkward after so we left quietly as fast as possible.

Want a husband? Come to Tanzania

Continuation from the previous post.

Sam parted ways with Ingrid and Julia when we were near our house. Ana and I decided to go buy some food instead of going home. We found the closest street vendor that sold fries and eggs. We discovered that this omelette with fries dish is called chips mayai (egg fries). I ordered one and Ana just ordered fries, which she ended up regretting. They heat the fries in a pan with oil before pouring in two beaten eggs. They top it with a coleslaw and hot sauce. It’s delicious. From that Saturday till now, Ana and I have gone out and bought it four times.

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Delicious chips mayai, my new favourite food.

 

While we were waiting for our food to be cooked, a random man came up and started chatting with us (this happens quite often here when you’re a foreigner). His english was surprisingly good. He invited us for some beers in the restaurant across the chip stand. Ana was going to say no but I said sure why not. It’s in a public place, what could happen. We carried our food over to the restaurant which had an outdoor patio. The man who invited us was having a beer with his younger cousin. The third and youngest cousin showed up a few minutes after.

We find out that the middle cousin is apparently “internet famous”. He’s a safari tour guide who is also a comedian (whether professional or not I have no idea). He makes these videos for his friends in which he interviews tourists and translates what they say into swahili. But he translates it complete wrong. The tourist would say something good about Tanzania, and he would translate it into something offensive. One of these videos for some reason went “viral”. Someone saw the video and reported him to the authorities. And now the government is trying to get him arrested. Wohoo, we met our first celebrity.

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You can find the video by looking up “fake translator” on Youtube.

Anyway, five minutes into the conversation, Simon says he’s single and looking for a wife. He takes an interest in Ana, saying he wants to marry her and will bring her family cows. It’s a Masai tradition for the man to give the woman’s family cows as dowry. Simon said he would bring three cows to Brazil, I said no less than twenty. Ana wasn’t happy, she wanted a hundred.
The cousins bought us beers, I had one and Ana had three. The two most popular beers here are the Kilimanjaro and the Safari (can these names get anymore Tanzanian). It was a nice change to have someone treat us instead of asking us for money.
Awkward side story, on my third day of school, that weird french teacher asked me for money.
I said no.
He hasn’t talked to me since.

The cousins, especially the older and middle one, were very friendly. The youngest was the shy one. They kept saying, oh we will bring you to this place, I will introduce you to my family (ok there), I have this friend I want you to meet, I would let you homestay in my house for free, blah blah blah. They were pretty desperate for a wife. A foreign wife.

They asked us what we were doing that night (it was already 6pm). We told them we were going to the club Pinpoint. The cousins proceeded to tell us that Pinpoint is a prostitute place. They convinced us to go to another club, we were all going to meet there later on. Keep in mind the youngest is at least thirty, with the oldest one being at least forty.

We ended up going to Pinpoint with the rest of the volunteers and our coordinators. Turns out, pinpoint is not a prostitute club. Can’t trust anyone here.

The club was a lot of fun, we paid a 7000 entrance fee which included two beers. We got there at around 10pm but the club only started getting busy at around 12am. I was too exhausted to drink. I only had a beer and danced a bit. By 1:30am I was exhausted, I had to sit down to take a break. Ana, Julia and our coordinators were having a blast. The coordinators were so drunk, they each had a small bottle of konyaki (Tanzanian liquor).

Sitting down at a club is not a good idea, especially when you’re a foreigner. Guys started coming up to me trying to chat. Because the music was so loud, they had to shout in my ear and stand really close to me. I pretended I couldn’t hear them and they went away.

We left the club at 2am by motorcycle taxi. The gate was locked when we came home so Ana had to climb over the fence, drunk. We knocked on Maria’s window and she had to come unlock the door for us. It was such a long day, I was happy to be finally in bed.

Always Eat Breakfast

Friday afternoon, Ana, Ingrid and I went out to town for the first time by ourselves. Friday marked the end of my first week in Tanzania. We went along Sanawari road which is where our village, Sanawari Village, is located. The street had many stores and vendors along the way. We discovered that fries are a popular street food here. Almost every food vendor sells it. On rare occasions some will sell different kinds of bread and fried fish. Ana had bought a bag of fries… the first of many.

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A cute kid who started following us.
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Walking down Sanawari road.
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Arriving in town

The end of Sanawari is the town of Arusha. We kept walking straight and found a sign for a restaurant called Woodland Cafe. The sign advertised pizza, sandwiches and other western foods. We decided to check it out since all three of us were craving western food. The cafe was empty, literally empty.

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Woodland sign and Mt. Meru!
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The empty cafe.

The menu was all in english but the waitress barely spoke any english. It had traditional breakfasts, desserts, burgers, pizzas, pastas, we were in heaven. You never realize how much you miss certain foods until you are deprived of it. I miss meat and I miss eggs. Sometimes I dream about all the eggs and meat I’m going to consume when I go back to Canada. Eggs are expensive in Arusha, I’ve only had it once for breakfast and it was nearly burnt. Most people here raise their own chickens.

People here eat meat as well but not meat MEAT. They use the bones to add flavour into their stews. Whatever bits of meat you do end up eating is also very tough. I just want a piece of big juicy steak. This is me one week in. I wonder how I’m going to survive three more months.

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What I typically have for breakfast. Saddest part of my day.

At the cafe I ordered a big plate of breakfast. It had two eggs, toast, beef bacon, sausage and grilled tomato. The whole thing was 10 000 (5USD) which at the time did not seem too much. But now that I have gone out more and bought more things, I realize that it is a lot of money. I’m probably not going back to this cafe again.

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My amazing afternoon breakfast.

Every bite of food was heaven. Ingrid and Ana laughed at me for ordering breakfast at 4pm in the afternoon. I guess eating breakfast at any time of the day is a Canadian thing?  I explained to them that all day breakfast cafes and diners are quite popular in Canada. Its not uncommon to order breakfast in the middle of the day. They still made fun of me.

For dessert, the three of us had split a nutella crepe. That was also delicious. They don’t eat many sweets here, which is a good thing I guess. Sugar is not good for you. But goodness, do I miss baked goods.

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Nutella crepe, the first dessert and only dessert I’ve had in Africa.

When we went back to Ingrid’s host family to meet the fourth volunteer. She’s staying for a whole month so her, Ingrid and I are going to be together for most of our program. She’s from Germany and her name is Julia. We chatted on the pavilion of Ingrid’s, and now Julia’s, host family house. The three of us were in a good mood from eating all that food.

On Saturday morning, the four of us went for a hike to the famous waterfalls near Mt. Meru with Sam. The hike took six hours in total. I didn’t eat breakfast and the last meal I had was the breakfast from the day before. The hike was exhausting for me. Even the smallest hill left me out of breath. But it was worth it, the waterfall was beautiful. To get there, you had to walk in a stream which had many rocks. The water current was also strong from the rain. I slipped while going down a mud path and bruised the outside of my foot.

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On the way to the waterfalls.
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More beautiful African scenery.

When we arrived at the falls, there were young boys who wanted to guid us through the path to the falls. We told them we weren’t going to pay them but they came with us anyway. They were quite helpful, they held your hand when crossing the water, and told you where to put your feet so you don’t fall. We saw many foreigners during the hike, the most I’ve seen since coming here. We saw a group of Australians and quite a few Canadians.

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Walking along the stream with our “guides”.
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The amazing Mt. Meru waterfalls.

We ended up giving the boys some money since they actually were very helpful. But Sam, our program coordinator said that it’s not a good idea to pay them since many of them will skip school to do this instead.

After getting out of the waterfalls, we had a little picnic on a nice patch of grass. Ingrid brought lunch from her host family. Ana and I were in shock. She had brought an omelette cooked with fries. It was so delicious. Ana and I were jealous that her host family fed her much better than ours. We wanted to complain to Mike since we’re all paying the same price. But we eat what our family eats, I don’t feel comfortable asking them to change their eating habits. I’m still trying to figure out how to go about this.

The four of us laid down to tan when we finished eating. It was a rare day full of sun. I didn’t think the sun would be such a rare commodity in Africa, but then again I didn’t look at when the rain season was. It was a nice break after a 4 hour hike. We also needed to regain our energy for the 2 hour walk back.

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Our view during the picnic.
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Relaxing after the hike with Ingrid

The way back was much easier. The way to the waterfalls was mostly up hill, so the way back was mostly downhill. I walked in my flip-flops most of the way, which was a stupid decision since I had also hurt my foot. But I realized my mistake in the end and switched to my wet, muddy running shoes.

A Whole New World

Wednesday afternoon, Nancy took us three volunteers into the town of Arusha for the first time. And wow. This is Africa.

This was only my second day stepping out of the house. I felt like a scared cat. The streets were loud and crowded. Cars never stopped honking, its as if the driver’s hand is permanently stuck on the honking button. Motorcycles trying to drive past people, vendors on the road selling fruit, vegetables and grilled corn… It felt like China, but cleaner and busier.

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The way to Arusha, but not actually Arusha. Notice how cloudy it is here.

I wanted to take pictures but I had a fear that someone was going to snatch my phone. I was glad Nancy came with us. I thought that maybe people would stare at me less if we had a guide. Nope. I thought the staring was bad on my way to school, but holy moly, it’s even worse in the actual town. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE was staring at us. The children were sweet, they would wave and say hi. The women would look at us and not say anything. It was mostly the men who tried to talk to us.

This really ticked me off. A couple of people on the streets and in their cars said konichiwa to me. I wanted to tell them, I AM NOT JAPANESE. I’m getting upset thinking about it. I’m learning to filter everyone out. I shouldn’t be too hard on them, they’ve probably never seen an asian person before. It’s hard to live like a local when they gawk at you like an alien. It also doesn’t help that I like to wear shorts. All the women here wear long pants or skirts. But I can’t help it, my legs need to breathe.

Ana exchanged some money and bought a SIM card. I wanted to increase my data at the same place, I had already used 1GB in the span of four days. Somehow, I got 15 GB extra without paying any extra money. I don’t know what witchcraft the employee used. Her name is also Nancy and I think I love her. In Tanzania, they also transfer over the data you have leftover from your current month into the next month.
Is this place sent from heaven.

In town I bought two mangoes, a coconut (a natural laxative), two colourful waist wraps (what most women here wear), a Masai (largest tribe in Africa) shawl and some snacks. Everything here is dirt cheap. 1000 TZS is approximately 0.50 USD. In total, I had spent around 40 000 TZS (20 USD), which is quite a lot here. The wraps and shawl were pretty pricey. 10000 (5USD) for the shawl, and 18000 (9USD) for the wraps.

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Two wraps on the left and the shawl on the right. I have to get the wraps cut by a seamstress before I can wear them.

 

On the way back we took a dala dala which is a large van used as a bus. It had taken us an hour to walk to town. Each dala dala has its own destination. The ride costs only 500TZS per person.
While we were driving, the sliding door of the van fell off! They tried to put it back on with no avail. Finally they lifted the door onto the roof and someone had to stand out of the door to hold it down. So safe. They had to drop the door off somewhere along the way. Ingrid, Ana and I couldn’t stop laughing, everyone else was chuckling.

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In the dala dala. This was before more people came in, I was almost as crammed as when I was on the plane.

Now onto Orland. As I mentioned in the previous blog post, he did not leave a good first impression. In fact, he barely left a first impression at all. The only time he talked to me was when he knocked on my door Monday morning, half naked with a towel wrapped around his waist, telling me that school was cancelled.

When Ana and I had returned from town, we retreated to her room to relax (she has a bunk bed and a double bed). Nancy’s mom comes in and asks us how our day was, what we did, etc. Her english isn’t very good, so most of the time we guess what she’s trying to say. She mentions something about Orlando and we’re both like, yeah, he left without say a word, so weird… She keeps talking and we deduce from her hand motions that Orlando had blocked everyone on WhatsApp after leaving (Ana did actually, I had no idea what she wanted to say). Nancy’s mom gets Selma (the cousin) to the come in and translate; she was at her limit. Selma drops the news that Orlando had left without paying a cent for his two-month stay.

What.

Apparently he kept telling the family that his mom is on a safari and that she will give him the money once she’s back. He depends on his mom even though he has a wife and child? I told you this guy was sketchy. Anyway, they loved him like a son. Nancy’s parents literally called him son and he called them mom/dad. African people are so nice.

He kept putting off giving them money for two whole months. The day before he ran away, he told the family that his mom was back and that he would pay them everything. The cost here is 70 USD per week, he owes the family over 500 USD.

Nancy’s mom wanted us to track him down using GPS. Mike is trying to find him through SIM card tracking. He’s looking to get permission from the police so he can get the phone company involved.
To be honest, I think it’s a lost cause. There was no signed contract, no legal binding. As I said before, people here live life very relaxed. Even if they find him, how are they going to make him pay?
I think it’s funny that as a Chinese person, I probably would have kicked Orlando out by the second week.

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

My First Day of School

Tuesday May 9th, 2017

My first day only lasted four hours but it’s been a crazy day. I didn’t end up going to school on Monday due to the funeral that took place. I can’t say if it had hit international news but it’s definitely big here. A school bus carrying 38 children and 3 teachers rolled off a street in Arusha on Saturday morning. 29 children, 2 teachers and the bus driver died from the crash. The day before the funeral, another 3 children passed away. I watched the funeral on TV Monday morning. Nancy had tried to go but told me that there were so many people that it was hard to breathe. It was a sad day but I was happy to be blessed with another day of sleeping in.

Nancy walked me this morning, it took around 15 minutes, the streets were muddy and wet from the rain which had stopped by the time we reached school. A lot of people were staring at me on the way there, it’s something I need to get used to. Mike told me that I would have an orientation where they would tell me everything I need to know. In reality, this “orientation” lasted no more than a couple of minutes, and it took place while a teacher was walking me to my class. She gave me an english work book, pointed to a section and said “ok start here”. That was it. She took me to a class, the children seemed to be around 6-8 years old. When they saw me they ran up to me and hugged me. I was happy to be working with such sweet kids. But then this teacher said, “sorry wrong class” and took me to another room where the kids looked slightly older. They weren’t as sweet.

I struggled to get the class under control. I could hear kids say mchina (Chinese in Swahili) which is fine, nothing wrong with being Chinese. A lot of them asked me if I was Korean, apparently the Korean fad is pretty big here too. My main strategy today was to get answers by going through each kid individually. But when one kid spoke, the other kids would fool around. It’s only 40 minutes per class, which goes by super fast. I taught them how to play Hangman at the end of English which they really enjoyed. I kept playing with them while waiting for their geography teacher, but he/she never showed up. Instead the math teacher came running and told me that the geography teacher is not coming and that I should take up math answers instead. Keep in mind that my school (Sotwa) is private and one of the best in the region. I can’t imagine what the public schools are like.

I observed the math teacher teach after the break. My approach with has always been sugar instead of stick, being stern when necessary. But after observing his class, I think I need to be more stick. The class was dead silent when he spoke. It’s hard to earn that kind of respect from kids. What he did instead of having kids answer one by one, is to ask a simple question and have all the kids answer. He would also ask the same question repeatedly in order to drill it into their heads. On another note, the school is english, everything is taught in english, all the teachers speak english, but they all speak english with a Swahili accent. It’s like they have their own dialect. They all understand each other but I can’t always understand them. When the math teacher taught, he said right-y side-y and left-y side-y, I thought it was kinda funny. The kids understand me most of the time, they’re very smart. However my accent is strange to them, a couple of them were trying to make fun of the way I speak. They tried to imitate me by talking nasally, which is apparently how Canadians speak, I wasn’t too pleased. Watch, they’re all going to have Canadian accents by the time I’m done with them.

One really funny thing happened to me today. Teachers usually go to the office to prepare for their next lesson when they have a break. The office is made up of two long tables and two long benches. When I was in there after my first class, a teacher with his back to me asked, “est-ce que tu parles francais?”, which made me assume that a lot of people here spoke french. I said “oui” and we started chatting. He was super excited about finding another person who speaks french because apparently nobody here speaks french. I asked him if he was here with his family (cause he looked kinda old) and he said, “no I am not married. I am looking, it is very difficult to find someone but I am looking”
“… Ok”
I’m sorry, when did I ask you about your love life?
He mentioned inviting me over for dinner, I responded by politely smiling, I was not against the idea –  yet. We chatted a bit more when I was leaving my last class (to go home), and he was coming in to teach history. He asked if I was married, I said no, at which he responded “why not? 20 is a good age to be married!”, I’m feeling slightly uncomfortable at this point. When his class ended, he came to talk to me AGAIN. This time he asked about the price of the plane ticket from here to Canada, and when I told him the price, he said “hmmmm, it is too expensive”. I don’t think I wanna talk to him anymore.