First day of school…

… and I (Joost) never thought teaching could be this much fun! This morning we made our way over. Under a clear view of the Kilimanjaro we said our good mornings (good morning sir, good morning madam, how are you today?) and watched the kids do their morning workout and sing some songs. I was happy to sing along “read your bible, pray every day”, but I had to pass for the Tanzanian national anthem. Everything is done according to the traditional British teaching system. They line up and follow their class leaders to their classrooms, while singing about how much they love school and the teachers. Quite the sight!

We started off with P2 math, helping out one of the American teachers (Adam). As a math major I always shunned the teaching track because I could not imagine teaching elementary topics would be a fun and challenging thing to do… Adam did show me wrong though! He follows a very structured schedule in class: show some examples, have some kids give the answers and then write out an exercise while we (well, mainly me) break our tongues over some of the names while handing out the exercise books. Next we all walked around in class and did some individual tutoring. The most rewarding part is definitely doing the corrections at the end. If they get it all right at once you get to write something nice in their book (good job!), draw a big star and give out a high five (I’ll get back to these later). Their pride and smiles are priceless. If they make some mistakes, you can revise some of the material, give some tips and repeat the above if they get it right in the end. They probably do not realize how much fun this is for me.

The half-hour break that followed was great. Before I knew it there were two kids hugging me on either side, I was watching a hodgepodge of ball games, chases and jump-ropes. The latter I was challenged to try myself. Katie described it as one of the best moments in her life. Whatever it was, I can still feel my back. On the way back to class the (extra high) high fives from Mr. Yoast provided much entertainment too.

After the break we found ourselves in a science class. Asking some of the kids if that somewhat out-of-proportion human head on the paper was mine was fun, while I also got the chance to use the attention to talk about all the parts that were on it. After science we were dismissed and retreated to the guesthouse.

Although everything sounds like it is going hakuna matata (with no worries), the reality is different. Along with Adam and Terry (the other American teacher), there are supposed to be about 5 other Tanzanian teachers. Two of the them, for no clear reason, did not show up at the start of this semester (last week), and as a result the class schedule is not up and running yet. To avoid getting behind on the teaching, we all hope that everything will get sorted out soon. As much as I enjoyed seeing the kids today, I was also saddened by the fact that things like this apparently happen on a regular basis.

In our talks with Adam and Terry, two new things have popped up as possible projects for the upcoming months. I will see if I can help with the administration for the guesthouse, by setting up an Excel sheet to keep track of income and expenditures. Katie is thinking about the branding strategy for the guesthouse+school combination. The plan is to make it more clear to current and prospective guests that their fees go directly towards the school. A consistent layout for the website, newsletters, etc. with a nice logo could be a start, as well as putting up some pictures of the children in the hotel.

Lastly, we have started our training for the upcoming half-marathon! We plan on venturing out in the morning to take advantage of the lower temperatures, because the first time we went out in the afternoon we came back wrecked. Even though I catch more breeze than Katie, it was a struggle for the both of us, with both the heat and the altitude wearing us down quickly. We are (generally) enjoying the food, we are happy with our room and the staff in and around the building is very friendly.

Overall, we are both enjoying the experience so far! Asante na Kwaheri.

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