Friday, July 15, 2011

BACK TO SCHOOL

My first day at my new school started inauspiciously.  It was my first night in my new home and I couldn't find the light switch.  While searching for the flashlight I fell and hit my left forehead on the concrete floor.  I was told to be there at 7, but it was still dark at 6:30.  I left at 6:45 and it took me an hour and ten minutes to walk there.  When I reached the campus, I turned too soon and was wandering around in the brush looking for the headmaster's office.  A student named Grace took pity on me and showed me the way.  The whole school was then assembled in the large yard and introduced to me.  I made a short speech then met the other teachers.  The first week is for "environmental cleanliness," when the students clean the school.  There are apparently no maintenance men or housekeepers and the students do it all.  I saw a large man in a Nike t-shirt walking around with leafless branches.  I have been told they beat the students here for discipline, but hope I don't have to watch it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DRIVING TO NGARA

We drove back from Lushoto to Dar es Salaam on Friday  Most people left for their teaching sites on Saturday, by private car, bus, and plane, which seemed to depend on what their sponsor paid for.  Some had 16 hour bus rides, which could not have been fun.  The Member of Pariiament for Ngara region is sponsoring four of us.  He will be in Ngara but cannot go by car due to an old back injury.  His driver, Gigi, is taking the car to Ngara to meet him there so he took the four of us assigned to that region along.  So Lauren, Allison, Breana, I and our luggage piled into a Toyota Landrunner and left on Monday morning.

Ashley, our field director, had told us that we would see most of Tanzania on the way and that the scenery was fabulous.  There were some interesting rock formations and oak like trees with huge trunks, but for the most part, it was like 16 hours of driving through the Mojave desert.  The road was paved, but there were many detours on dirt roads due to road construction.  Also, they put speed bumps on the highway before any population cluster, no matter how small.  Ashley called to check on us and said, "Isn't the scenery stunning!"  Yes, Ashley, just too much of it.

We got to Ngara the next day around noon and were given tours of the secondary schools at Murguanza and Ngara, where Breana and I will be teaching.  Her school is built on a cliff overlooking Rwanda and Burundi.  It is only a few years old, but has no electricity, running water, library, or science and math teachers.  The teachers seem young and friendly though.  My school, just outside Ngara, is larger with 850 students and has more amenities, including a satellite dish with television in the staff room.  The one computer on campus is used by the administration.

We are staying in a Catholic retreat because our house "isn't ready."  Tanzania time again.  The other two volunteers, who will be teaching in Rulenge, about 45 minutes from Ngara down a dirt road, will stay at the MP's house for a month or so as their house is being worked on.  It is very luxurious for Tanzania, with a solar power, marble bath, stove, refrigerator, TV, and ceiling fans.  He has four bedrooms and will not be back until September, so they are living in luxury for now.

Allison, Lauren, Bree, and Mama Caritas, the head of secondary education in Ngara, at the MP's house

Rufege, the MP's secretary, Bree, Allison, Lauren, Gigi, and me at our new home