The Tanzanian Experience
I have learned so much from living in Tanzanian for a month that I am not sure how to sum it all up or put it into words. While working in the schools I have learned different perspectives on teaching, but also have learned so much about their culture while immersing myself in the city for a month. We were busy, but time did allow for exploring and meeting people to ask questions and learn as much as we can about their lifestyles here.
In the schools, I thought it would be no big deal teaching and I wouldn’t struggle in the ways I had foreseen. I thought I would be able to come in and teach the methods I had learned about mathematical understanding. However, I was in for a surprise. It was a good surprise though because it has changed my perspective on teaching in America and other countries alike. The teaching style usually is developed by the culture of the society in the country you are teaching. So, as I started teaching, I learned their teaching style is what works for them and we were not here to change it. Our goal is to teach in a more meaningful and understanding way. Instead of strictly teaching definitions and algorithms I was able to explain and question the students more about concepts. It was hard to get my students to answer and participate at first and I learned the importance of including the students into word problems and data collection. They students became more engaged and had more fun. Not only did I learn about the teaching style, but how much respect the students have for their teachers. The students welcome you each morning into the class by saying, “Good morning teacher, how are you?” and end the lesson with “Thank you teacher for the good lesson.” Students walking around the school between classes or at break always say hi to you and welcome you with smiles and questions. It was something to get use to because I am not use to the students loving you, welcoming you each day, and appreciating you for learning their culture and educating them in their country. I have learned so much from the students at school about their education, personal lives, and ways of life. The students are teaching me how to appreciate the simple things in life. Their daily life is school, chores, homework, and then if time allows, watching tv or hanging out. However, most of the time they are working hard to become educated and help around the home. It is a struggle for some parents to provide finances for their children’s education. When I give my students stickers or a pencil it means the most because of the simplicity of a small gift. They do not need ipads, phones, computers, and all the materialistic items we have in America. The students here just appreciate the affection and love people have to offer. It isn’t about things, but about being happy with people you love. I have learned the simple life. 🙂
Lastly, I have learned a lot of things about the culture. I had a preconceived notion of what it was like to live in Tanzania. I thought there were hardly any roads, no cars, cell phones were rare along with tvs, and electricity. Yes, I have been living at the Outpost which has more amenities than most people, but most of these notions were not true. There are tons of cars around here, especially dala dala’s, which I have yet to experience. Even though most of the phones are small nokia phones that are not fancy like our iphones, but they do have a lot of people with cell phones. They may not be the best ones in the world, but they do the job for the people who use them. I have talked with many of my teachers and they have tv’s and electricity in their homes. So, people here are able to enjoy the entertainment we have in America, but not at the same level. I have learned from talking and watching people around town that Tanzanians love being social. They will welcome you with warm smiles and affection. No one has ever been rude to us and want to make sure we feel welcome. People are always outside helping neighbors or walking around and keeping busy. I definitely know that walking, walking, and more walking is involved living here. However, I am totally not opposed to that because walking is great for you. I seem to get parched quite a bit and water is not always readily available. Water is a scarce resource and is important to boil before drinking for us. Most of the Tanzanians are use to the water, but we have been boiling ours. Thus, I have learned how to use all types of bathrooms while living here. Most people have what the common person may call a squatty potty. I have become very accustomed to using them that I may not be use to using a regular one all the time back home. All these are so random and seem silly, but they are differences I have noticed. I could go on and on of all the things, but these are the most distinct misconceptions I have had.
Oh, I did forget one thing. The food here has been way different. Well, I shouldn’t say way different, but I think I should say more fresh. They use all fresh fruit, veggies, spices, and all other ingredients. I have never had such a good banana, mango, avocado, watermelon, and bread. The omelette’s we have each morning are the best too. The eggs are fresh brown eggs from chickens. I can’t believe how much I eat usually. I eat more than home because it is all so good to me. It is not processed or packed with fake sugar. I will definitely miss all the meals we have been cooked here.
These are my lasting impressions and I hope I can always remember these things as I have left. I will continuously remember other things I have learned and reminiscence about my experience here in Tanzania. Kwa Heri!