Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wanawake wamepanda pikipiki kuukuu la pinki.

(Translation: The women ride the old pink motorcycle. Or something like that.)

Two weeks until I leave for Tanzania! Everything is coming together slowly, and I’m doing a lot to prepare in many ways. For one, I cut off about five inches of my hair last week. By the end of the spring semester it had grown to be pretty long, and long hair is definitely not something I want to deal with in Tanzania and especially not in Costa Rica, where I’ll be doing a lot of hiking, camping, and field research. Right now I’m in Dallas visiting my grandparents and I’ll spend most of next week in Virginia Beach, coming back home for my younger sister’s high school graduation on Friday, May 23. Before I left for Dallas I ordered a whole bunch of stuff online that I couldn’t seem to find in stores near Concord – for example, hydration tablets, water treatment tablets, and an iPod voice recorder.

As many of you know, I sent out an e-mail last week asking for donations from friends and family to buy supplies for the LTP project in Tanzania. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of good-luck wishes and money that I received from my grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, professors, and others. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the fact that I was able to raise $985, which will go an incredibly long way toward making our project more effective and sustainable. I’ll be teaching up to 100 students at a time, and having enough supplies such that they can all take part individually in the process of learning photography and writing is vital. We are also hoping to leave behind supplies and money so that the teachers can continue the program after our two-month stay, and it looks like this is going to be very feasible thanks to you all. I’ve already ordered some extra Polaroid film and will soon order some Kodak photo paper using this money. To everyone who donated, it means the world to me and I love you all. I’ll do my best to post regularly (with pictures) so that you can all see the difference you’re making.

I’ve been trying to spend more time each day (maybe three-ish hours per day) working on learning Swahili with the Rosetta Stone software, and I feel like I’m making some decent progress. Besides learning some basic nouns and verbs, I’ve learned some colors, numbers, and a bit about sentence structure in the present tense (although it’s pretty confusing in general). Some of my favorite words so far? Pikipiki (motorcycle), wanawake (women), buluu (blue), pinki (pink), kuukuu (old, in the sense of an old car), ndizi (banana), and zabibu (grape) are a few. The word for table is meza, which all you Spanish speakers will appreciate, and the word for strawberry is strouberi. In my personal opinion, Swahili is generally much cooler than English. I think I’m going to start giving my pets names in Swahili (watch out, Wentworth [the giant Maine Coon cat]…)

One last thing I’ve been doing to prepare is reading Wendy Ewald’s book, I Wanna Take Me A Picture. Dr. Ewald works at Duke in both the Franklin Center and the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) and will be traveling to work with us in Arusha. She started the Literacy Through Photography program over twenty years ago, and has traveled around the world teaching photography and writing to children. Her book outlines the tenets of the LTP program and has given me a lot of insight not only about strategies for teaching, but also as to how I should think about the process in general. If you’re really interested in learning more about how this all works, I recommend reading this book – it’s very accessible and an enjoyable read as it includes various anecdotes.

I hope everyone is enjoying the beginnings of summer! Maybe next time I’ll be able to write my post in Swahili… (not).

1 comment:

rumtruffles said...

I am so excited about your trip. =) Good luck getting ready!