This weekend was mostly free, which was really nice because it gave us a chance to explore and get oriented in a more relaxed setting. On Saturday night we actually went to a restaurant and dance club called Masai Camp with Pele's son Shah and his friend Hillary (they're both 19). That was definitely an interesting and at times hilarious experience. Despite our vast cultural differences and partial language barrier (Shah and Hillary both speak English quite well), we have managed to become good friends with them and have had the kind of conversations that I would have with my friends back at home.
On Sunday, Ami, Alia and I went to the Mt. Meru crafts market, which is between our apartments and town. We had a lot of fun and bought a few things of course - I bought a pretty scarf, two necklaces, a banana-plant art thing, and a tote bag. Everything is really cheap of course, although the vendors usually give us ridiculous initial prices from which to bargain because they assume we're ignorant "wazungu" (foreigners).
We've also had multiple long meetings with Katie and Elena (the LTP faculty members) to discuss our experiences, plan our projects, etc. Yesterday (Monday), we visited Arusha School for the first time. Arusha School is a private school in which all seven students will work for our first two-week-long LTP project. It's an English medium school, so most of the kids there speak at least some English. It will be a good way to ease into teaching before we teach in the government schools, where fewer students will speak English. There are about 700 students in the primary school at Arusha school (grades 1 to 7), and I was pleased to learn that at least in this case the school has reached an almost 50/50 mix of boys and girls. The kids were adorable and were very excited to meet us. They seemed to be amazed by my hair and kept trying to touch it, which was pretty funny with the younger ones.
Later last night, after our Swahili lesson, we tried to cook dinner in one of our apartments. We've been eating out for almost every meal and thought we should learn to be more self-sufficient. Luckily, one of our Tanzanian friends (Dija) was there to help us - unlike most of us, she is a really good cook. We made a vegetable-medley-thing to eat with spaghetti, but the spaghetti mostly turned out to be mush because we tried to make way too much in a not-big-enough pot. Overall, though, it was fun and at least edible. Tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday, we'll be holding our first LTP workshops with the teachers with whom we'll be working. Our hope is that the teachers will see LTP as something that will be helpful and can be easily integrated into existing curriculum. More to come!
1 and 2: Our apartment - a few people asked to see pictures of it. The second picture is our sort-of-kitchen.
3: Part of the "alphabet" project that our group worked on to get better acquainted with how LTP works. It's taped to the wall in Katie and Elena's apartment.
4: Some of the group in the classroom at Arusha School where we're having our Swahili lessons.