Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Karibu Tanzania, Alyssa. Clearly you're here to stay."

A transformative moment has occurred. Today, for the first time, I sincerely loved eating my ugali (the white stuff, it’s basically corn starch). I wasn’t hungry come lunch time but I ate basically the whole plate because I couldn’t get enough. It tasted so good

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mama Mkubwa

The past few days, a lady by the name of Mama Erik has been staying at the house with us. Our house girl Sarah, whom I have written about in the past, has been gone for the past week or so because Bibi, Baba Glorious’ mother, has been extremely sick and needs extra help at her home in Machame village. Mama Erik stepped in to help keep the house neat and take care of Charity. She usually works at Zoe Babies (the branch for babies at New Life) where she is known as Mama Mkubwa, which means Big Mama. Though the term has a negative connotation in English, it is highly affection in Swahili, implying that she is a mother to everyone. I cannot think of a more fitting name for this woman.
Last night, one of Mama Josephine’s patients requested to spend the night at the house, so we gave her my room. This meant Princely would set up a mattress on the floor in the living room, Mama Mkubwa would sleep in Princely’s bed, and I would take the couch next to Mama Mkubwa. Yesterday was a long day (Mondays always are because the travel to and from Boma atop a full day of teaching at Joy can be tiring) so I was exhausted by bedtime. I would have loved my own bed, but I was so sleepy I could have happily passed out atop a rock. I dragged my way into the room and plopped onto the couch as Mama was still bustling about cleaning. When she entered the room she turned on the lights and began softly chiding me for taking the couch. “You won’t be comfortable!” She said in Swahili. I convinced her that I was happy to take the couch and gave her a hug as thanks for her concern. She turned off the light and slipped a pillow under my head before tucking my blanket a bit tighter around my body.
Then, she began assembling her things in the dark. She sang to herself deeply, deeply in slow Swahili. The sounds she made were almost guttural, but they were peaceful and evoked a distant memory of sifting sand with my fingers at the ocean floor. The sheets snapped in her nimble grasp, creating a drum line to her otherwise a cappella song as she prepared her bed. It was to this that I fell asleep: her deep voice, silent feet, nimble hands, my dark cocoon…I don’t think I have ever felt so safe nor slept so soundly.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Come and be Blessed

This morning’s church sermon was about blessings and was preached by Baba Shoo. It was the first time I heard him preach for almost a week because he has been traveling very much recently. He is my favorite preacher because his sermons are like lessons; they are based in logic. Just after church, I believe we received a blessing in disguise. Princely, Charity and I arrived home long before Mama and Baba and they had the keys to the house. Usually, we all would have gone inside. Charity would have sat down to watch Shrek Three for the forty-third time this week while Princely and I worked on the newsletter or passed time on our computers. Instead, we were all stuck outside. Charity still found a way to watch Shrek by hijacking my computer and finding a shady spot where the glare wasn’t too bad. Princely and I decided not to work on the newsletter, however. We had the materials outside with us, however we chose instead to cloud watch and climb trees and pass around a soccer ball with Charity after she finished the movie. Even after Mama and Baba got home, I felt inclined to stay outside. I fell asleep beneath the shade of a tree and napped through the early evening.

At first, we were all annoyed that we couldn’t get inside today, but after we embraced the blessing, we saw it as just that: a blessing. I am in a beautiful part of the world. When it’s not too cloudy I can see Mount Kilimanjaro from the yard, at night the stars are breathtaking and the mosquitoes aren’t even bad in this area. Sometimes I get so enveloped in my work that I forget to appreciate this natural beauty, and today was a blessed reminder to remain attentive.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Black American Africa

Last Sunday I was walking to the bus from church and struck up a conversation with one of the New Life teachers called Henlicky. He teaches history and geography to A-Level, the 16-18 year olds. Through our conversation we began talking about American History, which gradually led him to request that I come teach an 80-minute lesson on the American Civil War and the significance it had for black Americans.
I taught the class this Wednesday and it was wonderful. I brushed up on the topic by doing some Internet research and rereading some papers I had written for my AP US History class a while back. I compiled a PowerPoint and used it to supplement the diagrams I provided on the chalkboard.
The high school I attended was monogamously Caucasian, so it was the first time I had visited black American history in the presence of black students. This made me nervous entering the lesson, however I by the end I realized that it added emphasis. The students (and the teacher, because he took notes on the class as well) were particularly moved by the information and were highly responsive. They felt a clear connection to their tortured black American brothers and sisters. The fact that I, their teacher for the lesson, am white was not uncomfortable at all, rather we viewed it as proof that white supremacy is a dead illusion. Henlicky asked me to return in the future to teach more American History and a few Western European History classes (French Revolution and British Revolution). I thoroughly enjoyed the experience to teach an advanced academic class in a foreign cultural setting and look forward to the opportunities I will have to do so in the future.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sunset Model

I was walking home from New Life the other day and saw this beautiful young girl standing against a wall in the fading sunlight. I asked her if I could take her picture and she kindly complied. What a beauty

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smörgåsbord Dinna

Tuesday Night:
Princely and I cooked dinner, but there was almost literally no food in the house. Naturally we resigned to use every single thing in the kitchen. Here is a recipe for our beef stew:

1.     Thaw the beef on the counter (there is no power and no running water, so it may take a while) then cut it from the bone and cook it slowly in water on the gas stove.
2.     Add beef masala, curry powder, two tomatoes, two onions and one green pepper chopped.
3.     Taste the mixture and come to realize that, though you put tons of flavors in it, it tastes like nothing. It is time to get creative (or desperate, whichever term makes you more comfortable)
4.     Add porridge mix (made of ground peanuts, wheat flower, corn flower, sorghum, and soya), powdered milk, garlic chili powder, coconut milk and mustard
5.     Debate with your cooking buddy for 10 minutes as you decide whether or not adding the pineapple you are currently chopping would be an advantageous addition to the medley. Be really persuasive – he’ll budge.
6.     Alright, add the pineapple.
7.     Let it soak for 7 minutes over flame, stirring consistently

Eat up! Over rice, it will be shockingly delicious.

For dessert, please break a plate by accident because there is still no power, so you can't see very well. Apologize profusely, to which the rest of the family will only say "no, sorry to you!" Collectively decide that the plate broke in a rather artistic way and then decide to do a contrast photo shoot.

Good Evenin' Miss Kili

Say hello to our dear friend, it's been too long

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Donation!

It is barely past 6am here. I just woke up to the FANTASTIC news that Uzima received another incredibly generous donation from one of my blog readers. Yay!!!! In honor of this event I want to thank you all for reading, I receive between 20 and 60 views on this blog on the average day. Your viewership and kindness motivates me to continue writing, even though it sometimes is the last thing I want to do at the end of the day. So truly, thank you all.
We have made an updated budget for Uzima needs. I will be posting this to my blog later today so that donors, big and small, can request specific causes that they want to donate to. Anywhere from buying a $5 chicken to support our chicken coop sustainability project, or supporting our radio network for 3 months ($900), which is our most active branch at the moment as it touches hundreds of listeners every week – we welcome donations of all sizes and shapes.
In the meantime, keep reading – thank you so much!!

Lazy Sunday

This Sunday I took my first day off. Actually it wasn’t quite a day off because Princely and I worked on the new Uzima blog design (check it out at!) for a few hours, but other than that I just chilled. I woke up slowly, free-wrote for a little while, and then made egg sandwiches for the family before attending a 10:00 church service. The man preaching was from southern Tanzania and was far funnier than he meant to be. He preached a sermon about listening to Jesus. His testimony was about a man at bible school who stole his favorite shirt, and he knew this man stole his shirt because God spoke to him and told him it was true, however he chose not to bring shame to the man by confronting him about it because he knew Jesus would not do that. The way that the pastor told the story had everyone howling by the end of it. He kept saying, “I’m not joking! This is true!” but then he would laugh along as well.
After church we went to Union Café in downtown Moshi. We went there for food, coffee, and Internet access. I haven’t seen such a high concentration of white people in months. The establishment was beautiful and earthy and has been around since 1938, so I think it’s a big hit for the tourists. Plus the food is delicious. We drank espresso milkshakes and ate personal pizzas with avocado, chili, tomato, and chicken. YUM! We then returned to New Life to do some work because it turned out the Wifi at Union is not free. After a few hours of this we walked home to make dinner (Princely and I cook Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights). We walked early, about 20 minutes before sunset. The sun was brilliant and orange over mount Meru to our left, and Kili was flirting with a rainbow before us. I wish I had my camera to share the moment with you, but on the other hand it felt so clean to just absorb the beauty without preserving it.
For the rest of the night, we all just hung out, lazed around, but in a full way rather than a trapped, bored, or discontent way. I didn’t know how much I needed this kind of day until it happened. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Culture Blurb: Whistling

There are about 120 different tribes in Tanzania. Chaga is one of the most populous of these tribes. Most Chaga live in the Kilimanjaro region, especially around the mountain. The culture is notoriously hardworking and intelligent. They are also relatively small people. The Glorious family is Chaga. The kids speak very limited Chaga, however the parents speak it as their first language. They grew up in a village where they practiced traditional Chaga customs.
There’s your introduction, here’s the story. The other day I was working in Uzima Healing Center writing some brochures to be sent out to a partner organization we have in Missouri. I spent a lot of time alone that day so it was very productive, but after a few hours of high-concentration work, I grew restless. I fired up my ipod and began ballerina-style dancing around the room to Billy Joel. Mama pulled up to the healing center about halfway through the song, so I quickly composed myself and sat back down to work. Still, I was giddy and involuntarily whistled as I worked. Mama came in, we chatted, then she settled down in her office and I continued to whistle and work away. Suddenly I heard her howling with laughter from the other room.
laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh
“Mama, what’s so funny?”
laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh….”You! You-you’re-you’re whistling!” She choked out.
“Yeah, do you not know how to whistle?”
“No, no, sweet heart not that. Women don’t whistle here. It means they’re trying to be a man. If I ever whistled in front of my husband ooo-wee!” She clicked her tongue and laughed while shaking her head.

I don’t know why I was feeling so melodious that day, but this exchange happened another two or three times: I would begin whistling and mama would laugh and laugh. I find the unwritten rule so puzzling: women can’t whistle. They can burp, they can eat food with their fingers, but they can’t whistle. By now, I usually catch myself when I whistle, but never before a few heads snap puzzledly in my direction.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Return to Msufini Secondary

I have recently developed the habit of starting my posts with “yesterday…” I say that I am busy, but that is not a valid excuse for the habit – I was just as busy today as I was yesterday, however I am about to write a post about yesterday because my busy-ness was more noteworthy. I will make an effort to start posting about events the day of, though sometimes it is beneficial to allow the events to marinate overnight before blogging.
Yesterday I conducted another outreach training at Msufini Secondary School. I went with Princely as my translator (usually we co-teach lessons, however the Msufini students are not nearly as strong of English speakers as the New Life students so I taught the lesson and he translated). It went surprisingly well. If you remember, I was feeling a little lack-luster about my first training at Msufini a few weeks ago. The students were mildly engaged and the size of the class felt rather overwhelming. This past Friday however they were wonderful. We began with a recap and they were more confident immediately – I had a different volunteer to answer every question I asked. Their answers to my questions proved that the previous lesson yielded a far better retention rate than I had assumed. The new lesson was a continuation of the first lesson that focused on how to communicate assertively through an appropriate vocabulary, eye contact, an open stance, and active listening.  I incorporated some partner activities into the lessons and the kids were highly responsive. I was impressed by this, especially since they had another hour-long lecture in the same room right before us. (In fact, the Msufini headmistress did not pass along news of our visit, so we were surprise visitors. Not only that but we showed up almost an hour late because the bus refused to take us until it was filled with passengers.) I am proud of the kids and am starting to develop a really wonderful relationship with them. I am excited to return again this Friday. I have even adjusted to the size of the group. As I earn their respect through teaching relevant material in an interactive way, the size (200 students) becomes less of a struggle as they pay attention regardless.
Following the lesson, Princely and I walked a few miles before catching a bus because there are few buses that travel down the road to Machame, the road that Msufini is off of. The walk was beautiful – Machame is a village on the mountain so the area around it is so lush. I will have to bring my camera next time we go.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Week Two at Hope

Kindness working diligently on her writing her letter. (This girl has the cutest little ducky voice in the world. She smiles constantly and lost her two front teeth on top....she's adorable)

Yesterday I had a full day of teaching. I began with Grades 1 and 2 for an hour and twenty minutes each teaching Internet communications in the morning. The lessons were astronomically better than the week before. There are two main factors that contributed to this. One is that we are getting to know one another better. I have learned that saying a phrase in English and then repeating it and leaving out a word for the students to say (“After we finish writing the letter we put it in an envelope. A finished letter goes in an _______” “ENVELOPE!”) I also have learned that they love to show off the work they have done, so a good way to keep them focused is by walking around to check that they’re taking notes. The second contributor to Wednesday’s success was I brought a bag of candy and gave them each a piece for good behavior. Works every time…

Teaching these classes was far more satisfying today than it was the first week. I think I will stay with these kids until they finish the school year in December and then I will switch to take two days with Joy. This way I am not hopping in and out of primary school in a matter of weeks.
The afternoon lesson went well. Princely and I taught types of communication to Form 2. These communication lessons have reminded me of a lesson I learned in high school theater: you must keep your energy up.  It was the fourth time I taught this Types of Communication lesson to a different audience. It was their first time receiving/participating in the lesson, so it was crucial that I maintained high energy to motivate them to communicate confidently. The lesson felt successful – they enjoyed it and were far more comfortable with us and confident in general by the end of it.
Tonight I am planning the next communication lesson that I will be teaching. It is about communicating assertively (I need to think up a snazzy name for it still) and it will premiere at Msufini secondary school tomorrow.
I’ll take some pictures to let you know how it goes!

First Donation!

This week I received my first blog-inspired donation to Uzima!! It was a very generous donation, one that will pay the rest of our most recent three-month installment of Tiba Ya Moyo radio broadcasting (Uzima’s popular radio program that reaches home as far as 8 hours away) and also help furnish a counseling room at the new Uzima Healing Center.  The donation was such a blessing. Uzima always barely slides under the wire on electric, water, and rent monthly payments. The donation came just in the knick of time for us to pay the radio fees before collecting interest.
Our goal for the near future is to begin collecting a pool of donators who are interested in lending small amounts of money on a regular basis. A mere $20 a month adds up and makes a huge impact on third-world NGOs like Uzima Africa. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I've been trying to figure out how to post the Newsletter itself to the blog, but I have been unsuccessful. However here is the cover page for the September Newsletter I wrote for Uzima!! It was released about 2 weeks ago - it is the first Uzima Newsletter so it is quite lengthy and highly informative. Please email me at if you would like me to send you the full copy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quotable Moments

When talking about the Macarena...

"Yeah, it's really the only song that white people know how to dance to."

- Princely

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joy Day 3

This post will be brief. Today I worked at Fountain of Joy again and, as always, enjoyed myself so much. I know I’m beating a dead horse by saying this but those girls are such fantastic students. I went with Princely as my translator and he suggested that I talk to the administrators about working in another day with Joy into my schedule. Of all the New Life students, they are given the least attention simply because the campus is so far away and they are admitted to the school for a maximum of two years. This means that I am most needed at Joy; they learn vocational skills five days a week and English one day. They are adamant about becoming fluid in English, and if I can help them by adding another day with them, then I’m all for it!
I still need to talk to the administrators, but I think I will begin to work with Joy on Wednesdays as well. This means that I will swap out my primary school ICT lessons for Grades 1 and 2 for a morning and afternoon at Joy. I would not mind this because for ICT I am teaching out of a Tanzanian textbook, which any teacher is capable of doing. Additionally, I will be more effective if my time is concentrated on a few students instead of swapping every day between Joy, Hope Primary, and Hope Secondary. Finally, I will be teaching more hours consecutively at Joy. ICT is two hour twenty minute classes and Joy is one four and a half hour class. With Joy in the morning, I will still make it back to secondary in the afternoon for the public health training.
I forgot to take pictures during the lesson but we couldn't resist a little family picture. From the back left it goes Elim, Magdelena, Durkas, Alyssa Rose, Lucy, Happy, Helima, and Jenny. Jenny teaches the girls vocational class but she sits in on my lesson to learn English as well.
The more I think about it, the more sure I become that I want to do this. I have written a curriculum for Joy Girls English class. It will give the girls a solid foundation in English, however it moves too fast with not enough review. If I work at Joy two days a week I can easily fix this dilemma. The one part I am still unsure about is when I will make the switch. I want to do it as soon as possible, but it may be better to wait until the New Year in January because that is when the students begin a new year so it will not be an abrupt exit for me as I leave Primary School ICT.

My Boma Beauties

Meet my students Happy and Lucy. They are two of the six Joy Girls. They're both 16 years old and in my opinion, beautiful.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Calling All Angels

Yesterday I attended my first Tanzanian funeral. The experience was bittersweet. It began slowly, as many events do here. We woke at seven and planned to be ready in thirty minutes, but at about 7:35 we figured out that the water was back at the house (Hallelujah!!) and a man came over unannounced to receive counseling from mama so we had time take some much needed showers. We were ready to go around 8:45 and all piled into the car and jetted out of the driveway in a hurry to get to the funeral. Just kidding, the car didn’t start. The battery was out of fluid. Getting it started from there was a three-hour procedure.
1, 2, 3, push! *sidenote: the skirt that Zoe is wearing is called a Kanga. It is a traditional Tanzanian garb, you wear one as a skirt as she is, and another on the top of your body over your shirt so it covers you entirely. There are many ways to swing the look. I wore a similar looking conga to the funeral.

Scariest jumper cables I have ever seen

Once we finally made it to the funeral sight around 12:30, the service had not even begun (this made me wonder what we would have done from eight had we arrived on time and I was suddenly thankful for the mornings’ malfunctions). The service took place in a traditional Lutheran church. It was something like a mixture of a wake and a funeral. The casket was open before the altar and all the attendees were expected to walk around it before the sermon began. The deceased was Zoe and Princely’s second cousin. She died tragically in a motorcycle accident at age 24 in Dar es Salaam. There were over 400 people at the funeral, most of who were family members.
The service was partially in Swahili, partially in Machame, which is the tribal language of the area. When it ended, the close family members carried the casket and led us to the burial sight. The moment the casket was picked up, tens of women started screaming. It caught me off guard and took me a moment to realize that they were crying. It literally sounded like banshees at the screening of a horror film. This intrigued me because in America, had so many people reacted in this way, the close family and friends would have been embittered with the presumption that many of these women merely intended to call attention to themselves. Here, the instinct was to go comfort these women and cry with them and the preconceived notion is everyone reserves the right to grieve.
The mother was silent the whole time. I did not notice she was even there until the reception. She was the one who had identified the body. The motorcycle accident was on Saturday and after calling her daughter again and again with no avail, she called the police and was asked to come to Dar to identify a Jane Doe on Monday. It was her daughter. The mother did not have an easy life. She gave birth at a young age and was ostracized from her family for promiscuity. She raised the child on her own and spent everything she had to send the girl to school. Her daughter was everything to her and was ever appreciative of her mother’s love and sacrifice. She vowed to support her once she was of age and had a steady income, but sadly that day never came.
The experience was invaluable. It was tragic, beautiful, and brimming with culture. I thank God for the opportunity, but wish it had not come at so high a cost.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Buzzy Bee

My daily schedule has shifted. Through September, I woke up in the morning and checked my email, facebook, and blog statistics right away. Who had contacted me from home? Who was reading my blog? How many views did I have yesterday? After responding to the emails and facebook inboxes, I usually began work on some college supplement or another blog post, often times both. By the time I had moved onto my Tanzanian work, it would be at least twelve in the afternoon. By this time I would be a little worn from the morning’s work, but still eager to work for Uzima or New Life. The problem was that in these beginning stages, work was often times sparing. I did not have a set schedule and instead was working day by day, hoping that a new job would pop up for me each time I sat down to work.
Now, I have a schedule. Doing things that once dominated my time like keeping up with college supplements and blogging are tedious only because I have a full day’s work otherwise. I am working on a series of long-term projects right now including the Uzima blog, the Uzima newsletter, and the news board for New Life Foundation. I also am creating a two-year English curriculum for Fountain of Joy girls and teaching three days a week. My schedule is comfortably building to a point where I have somewhat of a life here.
On Monday night I went to dinner at a friend’s house. There were about eight of us there and it was a nice break from the somewhat constant work schedule. I am getting better at speaking English in a Tanzanian accent, which makes it far easier for everyone else to understand me. I also am continuing to learn Swahili, though slowly. (When it comes to learning Swahili it is very easy to allow people to speak to me in English instead of forcing myself to learn the language by complete immersion. However I know I won’t be completely immersed until I do learn the language so I must continue pushing.)
My non-teaching workdays usually involve about 5 hours of writing and designing, one hour of research, one hour of interviews, and an hour of scheduling (either curriculums or calendars), and an hour of helping others with impromptu tasks. Sometimes the lattermost is my favorite because it allows me to engage in conversation with others while most of my work I typically carry out solitarily.
My teaching workdays usually involve more travel time whence I either read or speak to the people with whom I travel. 
All in all, I have a schedule. I like it, it feels right. Though it sometimes can make contact with home tedious, I trust and hope that this schedule will continue to build.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Report Card

Hey, I’m back!
Sorry for the time off. Our power in the house was shut off two days ago because apparently the electric bill hasn’t been paid since the Glorious family moved in to the house (to which we said to the electric company, “true, but you have not mailed us the electric bill since we moved in either.”) This morning the water went off too. I’m waiting for Princely and Zoe to wake up so we can go to work where I plan to brush my teeth and wash my face this morning.
Last night I treated the family to an “Italian” dinner. There is this place in Moshi Town that calls itself Italian food. I beg to differ. Anyway, the place had a power outlet and we brought a splitter and charged up all of our electronic devices. It was quite a sight. Now I’m Internet ready for the next five or so hours, so I’m going to bang out a post and then write a quick college essay before work.
Family 3 Macbooks, a kindle, an ipad, and a phone
We stayed past midnight and found Charity passed out under the table when it was time to go

Teaching on Monday went well. Each class was better than the last. I began with second grade. I taught them about communications technology. For the first thirty minutes of class, I was writing things on the board, explaining, just going along teaching my lesson, and they weren’t writing any of it down. I was confused because I kept asking them to write it down, and I knew they were able writers because I saw them writing the science notes from the board when I entered the room. I kept asking them, but no one answered until by luck, I finally guessed, “do you have a separate notebook for ICT?” One kid bravely nodded yes, and I dug up the notebooks.
Even after this confusion was cleared up, it was really difficult to get the kids to write or respond at all. To make them more comfortable, I interrupted the lesson with an active game whereby I could learn their names and something about them. This helped a little with the participation issue, but not with the writing. Finally, I started walking around the room asking each student if I could see his or her work, at which point they would flip to a blank page and begin writing with a purpose.
The students were good kids – they’d run to fetch me the eraser or new chalk whenever I needed it, but when it came to paying attention, I think I just haven’t earned their respect yet.

Grade 1 communications was better. The kids were a little rowdy, but I prefer rowdy to silently spacing out anyway. Whenever they would finish a line they would all run up to me and say “teacher, teacher!” and show me what they had written. There came a point when they didn’t understand what I was teaching, and I was trying to make them understand but I didn’t get the feeling they were listening. Their regular teacher must have heard them from the other room. She entered and they instantly sat down and were silent and attentive. They understood my lesson in a matter of minutes.
These morning sessions were good, relatively enjoyable, but not my favorite. The main reason I feel this way is because I was under the impression that my presence in this instance was not highly effective. I came with materials in communication and public health to teach the students at New Life. When I said that I can teach communications, the primary school teacher put me in charge of the ICT class, which is taught from a Tanzanian text book and covers communications technology, not interpersonal communications. I am happy to give the teachers a break, because I know they teach all day every day, however at the same time I get the feeling that my skills could be used more effectively.
For this reason, I have opted out of teaching these students vocational skills on Fridays and instead have decided to work with Uzima and pick up another outreach training.

Sorry this is a long post, but here’s the really good part: teaching Form 3 went really, really well. It was fantastic. I went with Princely and the students wanted us to come back as soon as possible. The most rewarding part, besides the fact that they sincerely had fun while learning, was that there was a clear difference between their confidence at the beginning and the end of the lesson. At the beginning of the lesson, we could not get a single volunteer even to answer a simple question. By the end, the entire class was up in the front of the room acting and while some of them were still shy, many were really putting some gusto behind the roles.
I think this class worked so well for a few reasons. The first, and maybe most important, was that we earned the respect of the kids the second we walked it. Princely and I embraced our youth and came off as cool young teachers instead of poser adults. It helped that he speaks Swahili because when something was unclear in my accent he would repeat it in a Tanzanian accent or straight Swahili and follow it with, “poa?” which means, “cool?” Finally, the class was far smaller than my class at Msufini (it was one class of about 30 kids instead of the whole secondary school of about 200) and the students were fluent in English and eager to learn. They took notes without us asking.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I kept my Friday lesson with the secondary school on Friday. I know I’ll be teaching material that no one else at New Life has the background to teach, and to top it off, I am confident that they will enjoy it. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Few Days' Layout

This week, my schedule really tightens up. On Monday I had my second full day lesson with the teen mothers at Joy. We spent quite some time reviewing. It was difficult for the girls to remember all the materials I gave them with a full week between each class. They did a fantastic job memorizing the vocabulary list I asked them to memorize, however they had some issues grasping some of the concepts we studied the past week, namely the articles of speech. After we reviewed, we continued by learning new vocabulary: Showing Emotions. We then engaged in a series of activities that linked each emotion to a verb to show the emotion. For example, Lucy, why do you eat? “I eat because I am hungry.”
The remainder of the lesson was a two-part open question session. During the first part, the girls had the opportunity to suggest topics that they want to learn. I told them that I will be making the curriculum this week for the rest of our time together, so they should tell me if they have any subjects that they definitely want to learn about. They were very responsive and offered a plethora of topics. Some of them I would have guessed, for example verb tenses and household appliances, whereas others, such as how to pray to God in English and how to follow a cooking recipe, I would not have thought of on my own.
A large chunk of my day today was devoted to preparing for the rest of the week. Tomorrow I am teaching 3 lessons – an hour and twenty minutes each – one for grade 1, one for grade 2, and one for form 3, which is the equivalent to American grade 11. I am more anxious about teaching the younger kids because I am afraid that it will be difficult for them to focus for so long. An hour and twenty minutes is a long time for five and six year olds.
I’ll let you know how the lesson goes. So far, teaching at Joy has continued to be the best part of my week. Those girls are inspiring.
Sorry this post is kind of bland and general – I figure it is important to supply a base for the biographical sketches I will illustrate of these students when I get to know them on a more personal level. So stay tuned!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Culture Blurb: The Bucket Shower

Bucket showers have become a normalcy. It is an activity that no longer phases me – which is why it has taken me so long to write about it – but something that I should touch upon nonetheless because it is most definitely a unique experience.
There are two options for a shower. One is a cold – and I mean cold – shower. It is a simple procedure – turn the faucet and the water comes out. Familiar, right? These showers are generally unpleasant and I only take them after I work out (which has become a far-from-daily activity).
Option two is the bucket shower. Fill the kettle with tap water and boil it. The procedure takes about 15 or 20 minutes. Then pour the boiling water into a large bucket in the shower room. The water will only thinly cover the bottom of the bucket. Turn on the water faucet and fill the bucket about half way with cold water. The kettle water is usually so scalding that this ratio will result in warm shower water. The penultimate step is to fetch a cup with which you will scoop the water. Finally close the door, strip down, and shower.
I have found that it is best to be quite miserly with the water; a half of a bucket can be slim supply for rinsing soap, shampoo, conditioner, and sometimes shaving cream.
The first time I bucket showered I kind of enjoyed it. The smooth fountain of water running down my face made me sputter as it spilt over my nose and lips and shiver when it left the feeling of heat upon my arms. It was like a game and where I was both the mama and the bathing baby. Now, a month in, bucket showering is just okay. I am past the honeymoon phase; every shower is no longer an adventure. I never feel fully clean after, but I feel exponentially cleaner than I did upon entering. I's say that the shower and I have reached a stage of humble recognition:
Shower: Look, you probably won’t walk away dirt-free, and the chances of there being little unidentifiable black specs in my water are rather high, but I’m here for you anyway.
Me: I appreciate that. I’ll use you when the need grows great, however I won’t revere the time I spend in your corridors as I do with my shower at home.
Shower: Alright then.
Me: Well, okay.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

24 Safari

I want to give you the full picture of my safari, so I have included a few pictures and also a snippet of a conversation I had alla'tent. Enjoy the smorgasbord!

I explained, as we lay in our adjacent beds, how I am starting to really like this God guy, but I am still not a born again Christian.
She responded, "If it makes you feel any better, before I came here I was the girl who went out and got drunk every night. Not anymore though. I think I'm over that."
"Why what?"
"Why are you over it?
I ask because not every teen would say ‘I got drunk’ with a negative connotation, you know? At home there is not such a bold line between right and wrong, rather there is the golden rule: do what you can handle – if you can no longer handle it, stop. So if you don’t mind me asking, what made you want to stop?”
I stared at the angled ceiling of the tent and could see in my peripheral vision that she was doing the same. “Since I’ve been here we have done much praying and reading of the bible. I’m a lot closer with God than I ever was. I know he wouldn’t like to see me doing those other things, so I’ve decided to stop.”
“You, Steve, and Anne read the bible?”
“Yes. Mostly Anne and I.”
“Did you come here with the objective to do that? Get closer to God I mean?”
“I came here because of a bad break up.”

“Do you have any siblings?”
“Yeah – my brother is stationed in California right now, but he hasn’t spoken to my family in a while. My sister goes to school in state. She just got married. We’re close.”
“Aw, congratulations! Do you like her husband?”
She laughed at my forwardness. “Yeah. He really loves her too. She actually stood him up on their first date, but he tried again. Look at them now…”

Look at them now. As we continued to talk, she told me about how she lived in Bosnia for a year growing up, how she loves her hometown though it yields a surprising number of murders annually, and that she re-booked her plane ticket to go home a month early. This made her excited because her friend just had a baby whom she could now help dress up for Halloween. Look at her now.I marveled. Everything she told me was so happy-sad, but to her it was all just quietly happy. I guess that’s what God did for her.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Next Stop, Tarangire National Park

            This morning I woke up to three missed calls. That was odd. I don’t use my phone much here, especially before 7:30am. One was from Baba Glorious, the other two were from numbers not registered in my phone, so I dismissed them and carried on with my day. Then around 9, I received a text saying “Good morning Alyssa! Apologies for contacting u so early. My name is Peter Street – I saw u at church on Sunday but we never got to meet. My parents are going to Tarangire national park with their intern Sam tomorrow. Want to join?”
            Long story short ends with me deciding yeah, why not? So tomorrow morning I leave for Tarangire with Steve Street, his wife, and their 20-year-old intern Sam. The park is about two and a half hours away. We’re getting a 24-hour pass for the park and are driving through in Mr. Street’s car instead of a safari car to keep it cheap. It’s Peter’s favorite park in Tanzania, and he owns a safari company so I’d say he’s a solid judge. I’m pretty pumped, I’m going to pack some clothes tonight. I’m also kind of thrilled to be going with people whom I’ve never met. However as a safety net, if I don’t post again by Saturday morning, please assume that plan backfired and I’ve been kidnapped. A cross-global search party would be greatly appreciated.
            Get excited to see some animal pictures!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Joy - Day One

Let's do a photo-story today, yeah?

To get from the main New Life office to Boma (the town where Fountain of Joy is located) we took a 20 minute daladala (bus) ride and then went the rest of the way in this little thing. It has three wheels and looks like a cross between a tractor and a motorcycle and a volkswagon bug. I’ll get a picture of the outside next time, it’s such a funny looking car! We stopped at Zoe babies nursery on the way because it is right next door and we wanted to check if the Joy girls were there

Are they in the kitchen? No...

Are they in the nursery? No...but the babies are so darn cute

Say hello to Angel, Anita, Precious, and Purity (or as she calls herself, Pwetty)

Some of these babies are the children of the girls at Fountain of Joy, the others were left on the street either because their parents were insane or passed away. Now they are in the care of the New Life Mamas, Bwana asufiwa

Okay, time to do some actual work. Girls, say hello! This was the class I taught today (there was one man too but he didn’t make the picture. He was a teacher who wanted to come and learn English as well)

The lesson today was on emotions
They know I am 18, but they completely respected me as a teacher. This was evidence to me of how truly they want to learn

The girl standing is named Happy. Ironically, she is acting out the emotion sad. After they repeated the emotion out loud, the wrote it in their notebooks, and then I asked one girl to act each one out. The negative emotions were hard for them to act because they couldn’t help smiling, but I guess there are worse problems…

The lesson was a full day lesson, so I taught them a song in English to keep the mood light

And where there is song, there is dance

After we sang and danced, I wrote sentences in Swahili on the board and asked the girls to write the English versions. For example, I’d write “Mimi nina wasiwasi” They would write “I am worried.” Then, they would say it aloud and act it out

The final activity was for the girls to create their own sentences. Given that it was the end of the day, I thought this one was fitting…
This has been my favorite teacher-student experience so far. I can’t wait to return next Monday.