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.

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