Typical American mistake

Just as I suspected, Tanzania is tropically wonderful. Just as I suspected, the busy market and reckless driving are crazy. Just as I suspected, the cultural differences are vast and intriguing. Here’s the big surprise though, I came to Tanzania with a typical American mindset: I wanted to change things and make a difference. Boy was I wrong!

After two days in the school, I’m very aware that I am not needed to make changes. Even greater than that, I am not wanted to come in and make changes. How typically American to think that I have some solution to the Tanzanian education problem? I do not have any answers and I am embarrassed to admit that I thought I did.

 I have been fortunate to teach two lessons so far and my teacher was not afraid to jump in when she thought I was not doing a sufficient job. I have complete respect for her because she has very obvious classroom rules and procedures. She knows what she wants from her students and the students know how to provide her with the style of work to make her happy. She does not need some young, clueless twenty-something to come into her room and try out all of these new and different teaching styles.

So now that I have quickly learned this experience is not about what I can teach the Tanzanians, what can I learn from them? How can I still give to them and serve them without trying to change them? How do I give and serve my future students through the experiences that I am currently having? How do I collaborate with my host teacher so that maybe she can learn a thing or two without it being forced upon her?

There are so many questions that I am currently processing. I guess I’m lucky that I have almost a month to figure it all out. In the meantime, I’m going to continue having wonderful interactions with the Tanzanians and loving on the precious children. Teaching in Tanzania has already proven to be an incredible eye-opening experience that I’m very thankful for. 

– Kelly 

~ by kellyheins on May 3, 2012.

2 Responses to “Typical American mistake”

  1. Kelly,

    Interesting perspective. Sometimes, although your efforts may seem futile, your loving, caring attitude will be contagious and will touch many of your children’s hearts. Love, Dad

  2. Kelly, It’s impressive you’ve already come to the most important conclusion in the first two days — which is to discover how people can be change agents together rather than assuming folks are waiting for a “lone ranger” or “magic hero/heroine” to rescue them. Instead, what people need/want is to learn how to change the world together. I’d encourage you to share your story with the teacher. I’m sure she would appreciate it and have lots of ways you can help. Can’t wait to hear more stories. Great work.

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