Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Last Arusha Post

At some point, I'm going to have to move on from posting about Arusha, especially considering that I've been in London for over three days now. So, here's one last post about the end of our two months in Tanzania.

Arusha School FUN DAY!

Since the first day we began working at Arusha Primary School, we heard the kids talking about the "Sports Day" that was coming up at the school in late July. About a week before the designated date, though, our students informed us that Sports Day had been cancelled for some reason unknown to them. They didn't seem at all surprised, but to us the situation was heartbreaking because we knew how much the kids had been looking forward to Sports Day. One of us - Lindsay, I believe - then had a great idea: Why not put on a field day for the kids on our own? We set the date as the last Wendesday in Arusha. Although this was a particularly hectic time - during that week we were wrapping up our teaching projects, after school programs, and preparing for the final LTP exhibition - we were determined to pull this off. We spent the vast majority of Tuesday and Wednesday preparing - buying supplies, making posters, arranging with food vendors, etc. I was highly preoccupied on Tuesday with my book-making class party, so my personal contribution on that day was blowing up 40 balloons in the evening (it works, right?) Somewhere along the line, the event acquired the name "Fun Day" (cough, Alia and Ami), which the other six of us found hilarious. In the end, the day came together amazingly. There were sack races, three-legged races, games of musical chairs, tug-of-war games, signing of banners, dance parties, an exhibit from Alia's after-school art program, football (soccer) games, and free chungwa (oranges) and peanuts. The kids had tons of fun, although I would argue that their American teachers enjoyed themselves even more. It was amazing how easily pleased the Tanzanian children are - such simple events made them happy beyond belief.

Signing the banners. There was one for us to take back to the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, and one to leave at Arusha School.

LTP Final Exhibition

On Friday, our last day in Arusha, the LTP Final Exhibition began. We spent much of Thursday taping all of our students' LTP projects to the outside walls (in a covered area) of a local cultural cafe called Via Via (also one of our favorite dinner and music venues). The exhibition ran both Friday and Saturday. All were welcome, although all the teachers and students at the six schools at which we taught were particularly encouraged to come, and multiple education and government officials were also in attendance. The turnout on Friday was great, and it was wonderful to see all the positive reactions to the programs. I think we all have high hopes for the continuance of LTP teaching in Arusha and beyond.

In the end, we calculated that throughout our two months in Arusha, we taught over 750 students (not counting after-school programs). In the midst of lots of goodbye tears, hugs, and kisses exchanged with those who had become so special to us during our two months in Arusha, the eight of us reflected on how meaningful, life-changing, and unforgettable our time there had been. Many of us, including myself, agreed that there's no way we won't return at some point.

It's been an amazing ride so far.

Article in the Arusha Times about the LTP exhibit.

One last group picture, taken at the exhibition.

Mt. Kilimanjaro, above the clouds. I took this picture at about 6 AM on my flight from Kilimanjaro Airport to Nairobi.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The End of Book-Making

I have arrived in London safely, but there is still so much to say about Arusha. On Tuesday, I wrapped up my after-school book-making class. In the end, the class ran for about two and a half weeks, and seventeen students received completed books. Each book included their final draft of the story (I corrected each student's first draft), illustrations, a title page, dedication, "About the Author" page, and cover. The cover of each book was laminated and they were spiral-bound with a sheet of plastic on the back as well. It cost about Tsh 4000, or US $3.33, for each book. This is something that the kids would normally have no opportunity to do - for one thing, structured after-school programs are nonexistent, and secondly, there is no money available. I was amazed how, day after day, my students showed up at 3:30 and stayed until 5:30 or 6 PM working on their books. My most dedicated students produced books as long as 20 pages - their dedication and desire to learn was truly remarkable.

To end the class, I threw a party for all the students who completed their books on Tuesday. I ordered a cake that said "Congratulations on your Books," brought Coke to drink, and gave each student their book as well as a certificate of completion. It took me about 20 minutes to get all the students who weren't in the class out of the room, and then we ate cake while I presented each student with his or her book and certificate. After that we went outside to take pictures (thanks, Kaitlin) and finally just spent some time hanging out instead of working. One remarkable thing that happened during the party was that all the students waited patiently, with their hands in their laps, until each and every student was served cake. It still amazed me to see that there is absolutely no sense of entitlement among these students.

To all who donated money for this trip, thank you SO much. Even after using money for the book-making class, Fun Day at Arusha School (more on that later), and incidental LTP expenses, I was able to leave about Tsh 660,000 (US $550), to pay for a central location for LTP supplies so that teachers in Arusha can continue the visual learning program we've started.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Teaching in Swalinglish

On Tuesday, July 15, the LTP team began teaching at three government schools in Arusha: Themi Primary, Uhuru Primary, and Naura Primary. Whereas Arusha School, Shalom Primary, and St. Joseph's Secondary were English medium schools, the three schools at which we are now teaching are Swahili medium schools. Although the students take English classes, they speak very little functional English. As a result, my rudimentary Swahili skills have been getting an intense workout, but I've been pleasantly surprised that I really haven't had much trouble communicating with my students.

For this final stage of our LTP teaching, I am paired with Lindsay and Baldeep at Themi Primary School. From Tuesday to Friday of last week, we taught a standard 4 class (about age 10), a standard 6 class (about age 12), and a standard 7 class (about age 13). The standard 4 class was learning how to tell time (English time, because there is a different time system in Swahili), so we did a project about daily activities. The students photographed their activities at certain times of the day (for example, brushing teeth at 6:30 AM, going to school at 8:00 AM, etc.) and made posters that included the time, the accompanying picture, and a drawing of clock. Standard six photographed pictures representing English adjectives, and standard seven (which is currently learning about postcards) used their photos to create and write postcards to a "friend" in America. In the week that I'm home between the cruise and my semester abroad, I'm hoping to find an eighth-grade class to respond to the students' postcards.

Standard four students work on their time-telling posters.

Our standard four teacher at Themi helps her students with their poster.

On Thursday, Alia, Ami, Kaitlin, and I went back to our form 3 class at St. Joseph's (girls' secondary school) so that our students could present their misemo projects. We were extremely impressed with the students' final work, and their presentations were the best we've seen yet. In general, we've observed that students here are highly timid about speaking in English, especially in front of groups. It was wonderful to observe the existence of some viable leadership skills, especially among young women. When we left their class for the last time, we spent at least a half hour exchanging contact information and notes with the girls, and as we walked towards the door we were smothered in hugs and kisses.

A form 3 student presents her group's misemo project.

Part of one group's misemo project.

Our after-school projects at Arusha are coming to an end as well, and my book-making class has certainly been feeling the time crunch. My students must finish their books today, so towards the end of last week my students were staying (voluntarily, as always) for upwards of two and a half hours each afternoon working on their stories, illustrations, cover pages, dedication pages, title pages, and "About the Author" pages (each of which includes a photograph of the student author). The finished products are books with a laminated cover, spiral binding, and plastic back-cover. My students are between the ages of 10 and 13, and some of the books are twenty pages long. Although it has been exhausting to teach the class, grade the papers, and assemble the books all on my own, the book-making class has easily been one of my most fulfilling experiences here. When students are willing to stay for hours after school just to learn and be creative, how can you deprive them of resources and instruction? Even as I type, some government education officials are standing behind me, flipping through a few of the finished books and thanking me for the work I've done here. We've received an extremely warm welcome and a lot of support from the government, which has been very helpful in making our project successful and sustainable.

My book-making students working diligently.

My youngest book-making student decided to write this on the blackboard - I thought it was adorable.

Because this past weekend was our last one here, much of it was spent running around accomplishing lots of "leaving soon" tasks. We also had a batik art workshop on Saturday with Pelle and some friends of his, during which each of us spent about 7 hours completing a small piece of batik artwork. It was fun and interesting, and of course the final product makes a great souvenir. My batik was of two giraffes (because I've fallen in love with them), but the picture itself was traced from a calendar (because I completely lack artistic ability).

The batik workshop.

It's hard to believe that I have less than five days left in Tanzania. Between teaching three standard 3 classes at Themi, finishing my book-making class, preparing for the LTP Exhibition on Friday, and a whole host of other things, it's going to be an absolutely insane five days. At around 3 AM on Saturday, I'll be off to London...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Shalom Primary and St. Joseph's Secondary Schools

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, the eight Duke students taught at Shalom Primary School (ages 7 to 14) and St. Joseph's Secondary School (ages 14 to 21). Both are private, English-medium schools.

Shalom Primary School
I taught mainly at St. Joseph's, so I only taught at Shalom on Wednesday. Lindsay, Minette, Baldeep, and Michelle taught all three days at Shalom. Their class was made up of about thirty children of mixed ages, from standard three to standard seven. There, the children completed a reading photographs activity and a self-portrait project. Shalom is by far the nicest school we have encountered here - the classrooms are clean and all have electrical outlets, the teachers are well-dressed, and the children seem happy and are well-contained. This situation inspired a great deal of conversation about the sort of tug-of-war between schools where we can teach most effectively versus schools that need us the most. When we teach at schools where students come from more affluent families, the students generally can better understand when we teach in English. However, we feel drawn to helping the more economically disadvantaged sector of the population, where the communication barrier creates much more difficulty and thus we cannot use our teaching time as effectively. I don't think there is a real solution to this issue in the timeframe in which we're working, but we've resolved it mainly by teaching in schools that are all over the economic spectrum.

^A student at Shalom learns about framing.

^Shooting self-portraits at Shalom.

St. Joseph's Secondary School
I taught with Alia, Ami, and Kaitlin at St. Joseph's Secondary School on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. St. Joseph's is an all-girls' Catholic school that is run by nuns who live in a convent next to the school. One of the sisters from St. Joseph's came to the second LTP workshop, and due to her enthusiasm about the program we were able to establish connections with English teachers there. The school is very neat and well-run, and we observed an upbeat and positive atmosphere in the time we were there. We taught both form one (ages 14-15) and form three (ages 16-17) . The creativity and clarity in our students' writing in the reading photographs exercises as well as the results of the Misemo project that standard three completed were absolutely remarkable, and it was a truly enjoyable experience.

My name is Brian. I'm ten years old. I live in New York City in America. I'm the last born in our family. My parents are business people, and my brother is a policeman. I am studying at Victoria Academy School in standard three. Our family is good in life.
But one thing that I won't forget in my life is that day when my parents died in an aeroplane accident. They were traveling, going to Paris. On the way, the pilot had been confucing (sic) with the air hostess... now he couldn't manage to survive with the aeroplane and it was too cold in the sky. Now the flight fell down.
That aeroplane fell down on the big ocean of water. All the people died including my parents, but only two of them survived in the accident. The day when my parents died I was in the class. Now our class teacher Madam Ami told us that there was a very dangerous accident, happened yesterday evening of an aeorplane. All the people died but two of them survived. On my mind I think that my parents died. That day I cried very much. My brother John told me that it's true, our parents have passed away. They are not again in this world. Since that day our life with my brother was very poor.
My brother started sick, then he died. I was very lonely. Nobody could help me with anything. And nobody could pay for my school fees. And our house was cold with our relatives. My relatives abandoned me. They said that they can't stay with me again.
From that day I couldn't manage to go to school again. My education ended there. Since that day I was a street boy walking here and there borrowing some money. One day, it was a Sunday morning walking, I passed on the road and saw many children playing there. I joined with my friends and I was picking up some pieces of boxes. I was wearing a white shirt, black shorts and black shoes.
-One form one student's writing in the reading photographs exercise (edited slightly). The students were each given a photograph of a scene from a 1950's American city, which included a number of people walking and talking on the sidewalk in the background and a group of young boys playing with debris in the foreground. The students were asked to pick one person in the picture and write a creative story about that person in the first person.

^Shooting the Misemo project at St. Joseph's.

^Students at St. Joseph's admire their work.

After-School Book-Making Class
This week, I also started teaching an after-school book-making class on my own at Arusha Primary School. I'm working with a small group of about ten standard six students (ages 11 to 13ish) for up to two hours each afternoon. The students come on a completely voluntary basis, and are writing their own stories in English (a paragraph at a time). I correct their stories for them each night, and they are making illustrations as they go along. I'm hoping that they will be able to reach their final products by the end of this week, which will be books that they make by re-writing their text neatly on white paper and placing their illustrations to go along with their text. We're hoping to have a small exhibition of all the work accomplished in the after-school programs early next week.

^Hard at work in book-making class.

The Weekend
This weekend was our second-to-last here in Arusha. We did a good deal of shopping, went out one night to a local restaurant/bar/dance club, and just generally enjoyed being here. During this week and half of next week, we are teaching in primary government schools. While students there have English classes, the schools are Swahili-medium and the students understand a minimal amount of English. More to come on that later!

^A performance by a what we called a "zebra gymnastics" group that we saw on Friday night.

^The group minus Baldeep, who was playing photographer.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Safari

Sorry it has taken me so long to update about our safari this past weekend - it has been a busy week! We left at 8 AM on Saturday and drove about two hours to our sort-of hotel. Between the six of us (Alia, Ami, Baldeep, Minette, Michelle, and I, because Lindsay and Kaitlin went to the Serengeti), we had four rooms. Each one had a small room with a queen-ish size bed and a bathroom with a small sink, "squatter" toilet, and a shower. The beds had a sheet on the mattress and we were each provided a blanket. Amazingly, there was even running hot water, and the food made for us by the chefs was delicious.

After checking in, we left for Lake Manyara National Park. We spent four or five hours standing and poking our upper bodies out of the roof of our safari car, looking at the beautiful landscape and wealth of wildlife. We saw baboons, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, lions, impala, warthogs, elephants, wildebeast, various monkeys, dikdik, flamingos, buffalo, mongoose, toucans, some kind of huge lizard, and lots of different birds. It was TONS of fun. As we drove, we were constantly on the lookout for huge clouds of dust blowing into our faces and branches of trees with huge thorns hanging dangerously close to our faces. Our driver, Justin (he works for Pelle), did a wonderful job of finding lots of wildlife and being patient with our somewhat ridiculous excitement and need to take pictures of absolutely everything.

The next day (Sunday), we visited Ngorongoro Crater. First, we went to a gorge near the crater. We visited a Maasai village that is open to tourists (for a fee of course). The Maasai men and women performed traditional songs and dances for us, and then of course showed us to a display of traditional crafts for us to buy. Later, we visited a museum overlooking the site where the oldest human remains were found and listened to a talk about the discovery and significance of the remains. Finally, we drove out of the gorge and down into the massive crater. Ngorongoro Crater was formed from the collapse of the top of an extinct volcano. Within it we saw similar wildlife to that of Lake Manyara, plus hyenas, ostriches, and a rhinocerous (although it was too far away to us to really even tell what it was). We even saw two lions mating (through our binoculars, of course)!

Monday was Saba Saba (Seven Seven, or 7 July), which is a national holiday in Tanzania. We visited Tarangire National Park and went on yet another driving safari - seeing the landscape and wildlife never gets old. At one point, we stopped the car in a spot with a group of about fifteen baboons on one side and a herd of impala on the other. The baboons were as close as about four feet from the car, and we sat there for about twenty minutes just watching them interacting with each other (chasing each other around, babies clinging to their mothers, climbing a tree, playing, screeching, etc). It was an amazing experience.

We returned to Arusha at about 5 PM on Monday, exhausted, covered in dust, and completely content. Enjoy the pictures!

^Giraffes and zebras at Lake Manyara.


^Look closely... lion in a tree at Lake Manyara

^Zebra, wildebeast, and a zillion flamingos (the pink line at the top) at Lake Manyara

^LTP! Although standing on the safari car probably wasn't the best idea.

^The obligatory group pic.

^Ostrich at Ngorongoro
^Our lunch spot in Ngorongoro Crater.

^Maasai men and women performing traditional songs and dances. The mp3 file I recorded with my iPod is much more impressive than this picture.

^Zebras and wildebeast at Ngorongoro. Apparently they get along well.

^The side of Ngorongoro Crater.

"Upside-down trees." Notice how it looks like the roots are in the air. The legend says that God got mad (I forget why), uprooted the tree, and threw it back to Earth upside-down.

^A common scene - cattle crossing the road on the way home.

LTP on the DukeEngage Website

I was recently notified that the staff of DukeEngage (the program at Duke that is funding our LTP project here in Tanzania) selected a picture of me with children at Arusha Primary School to use as the main photo on the DukeEngage website for a few weeks. Yay for great LTP publicity! To see it, visit

Friday, July 4, 2008

LTP Teacher Workshops, Round Two

On Monday through Thursday of this week, we held another round of LTP teacher workshops. The difference this time, though, was that there were about forty teachers in attendance instead of eight. Katie, Elena, and Wendy ran the workshops while we students came at specific times each day to help train the teachers in planning and shooting as well as to discuss in detail their plans for using LTP in their individual classrooms. Throughout the four days, the teachers participated in various classic LTP assignments including reading photographs, the alphabet project, and the dreams project. They used digital, film, and Polaroid cameras. Like during the first workshops, we were visited by some local press. In June, a photo from the workshop was printed in a local paper (the Arusha Times) and this time, an article was printed in ThisDay. The author of the article was clearly confused about a few aspects of LTP, but it was certainly publicity in a positive light. I'll work on getting the newspaper stuff posted on here.

Despite a lot of struggles with the language barrier, the teachers were clearly excited about using LTP in their classrooms. Many of them attended LTP workshops that were held here in Arusha last year, and all of the teachers in my group had used LTP in some way in their classroom since then. I asked one of my teachers how doing an exercise with photographs in his classroom had gone, and he answered, "It was fantastic." Most of them see resources as the largest barrier to implementing LTP on a larger scale, which is certainly a valid concern considering many of the government school teachers have over 100 children in their classes at one time. At the end of the workshop, the each teacher filled out a survey to indicate how we can best help him or her make teaching LTP a reality in his or her classroom.

Also, on Wednesday through Friday of this week, we continued teaching at Arusha School but we taught new classes and switched around our teaching groups a bit. Minette and I taught a standard five class (ages 10 and 11) and did a dreams project. On Wednesday, we did a reading photographs exercise in which we handed out pictures of previous LTP students' dreams and asked our students to first list details in their picture, then write about what the photographer's dream might have been. On Thursday, they drew a picture of a dream they had had and then went out in groups of five or six students (with one of us teachers) to take pictures of their dreams using film cameras. Finally, today, we returned their photos and asked them to write about their dream, their photo, and the connection between the two.

Tomorrow morning we are leaving for a safari during which we will visit, among other things, the Ngorongoro Crater and the oldest-found human remains (did you know that was in Tanzania?). Lots of pictures to come next week!

Oh, and happy July 4. It's more than a little strange to imagine the hamburger-eating and fireworks-shooting that is going on in America as we continue our work here.

The LTP teacher workshop, taken on the final day (Thursday). On the wall behind the teachers are their alphabet project posters, which have subjects including English, Swahili, Civics, Geography, Social Studies, and Science.

One of the teachers in my group shooting a photo with a film camera.

Me with part of my group of teachers examining some photos we took on a digital camera.

Baldeep showing a group of standard six students how to use the digital camera.

One of my standard five students shooting his dream photograph.

A group of my standard five students discussing the best background, frame, and point of view for a student's dream photo.