Day 3: Out to the Country
Updated: Aug 16, 2019
On day 3 we woke up before the crack of dawn, scarfed down our hotel breakfast, and boarded a hired bus to take us out to the Mkuranga district in hopes of beating the Dar es Salaam morning traffic. After a bumpy bus ride out to theTanzinian countryside we finally arrived at our first school - Hoset Secondary School. Here, orphaned students live and go to school. They are literally out in the middle of no where. The staff of the school sew the student uniforms. They have limited resources for teaching. Despite obvious challenges, the students are among some of the best behaved, happy, and most eager to participate students I have ever met! These students realize that the education their teachers and school provide is one of the best ways to change their life trajectory, and their gratitude is very evident.
After, we reboarded the bus and drove to our second school of the day, a public secondary school this time. We were running on Africa time (pole pole is a common phrase I have learned in Swahili, which means slow and is an excellent phrase to describe how people operate!) So we didn't get to this school until after the school day was over. However, when we arrived, the students were standing in rows, attentively waiting for us! We broke off into small groups and observed various classes.At this school students and teachers had even fewer resources. Almost no students had notebooks to take down their lessons. I observed a teacher give a chemistry class on the elements of the periodic table....without a periodic table. Everything was taught through repetition, parroting, and regular check ins with their students. Again, I was amazed at how well behaved these students were. Most amazing of all is, for the most part, they appear to be taught in English, not their native language of Swahili! Another class had 150 students to 1 teacher. 150:1! Can you imagine? How do you check in with each student? How do you teach so many? How do you make sure they all stay engaged? How do you do all of that without resources?
After class was over students got head home finally, many with up yo an 8 km walk ahead of them to get home from school. Despite behing kept late at school and a long, hot walk ahead most students just didn't want to say goodbye (kwaheri) to us yet. Were we the first white people they had ever seen? Quite possibly...
At the end of the day we sat in the shade of a great big tree with the teachers of the second school and debriefed our day. The principal of the school gave a beautiful little speech, with the message that teaching is such a valuable profession and he hopes to build an appreciation for the profession in Tanzania. "No one can come to their careers without teachers", he said. How true and beautiful is that.