First Impressions…

The start of this trip was really rough. The plane rides were okay just long but once we finally arrived at the Outpost Lodge everything hit me at once. My phone wouldn’t work so I couldn’t communicate with any family back home. From that point on, I began to question why I decided to go on this trip for an entire month… Trying to sleep at night just made it all even worse. There were dogs barking like crazy! I was extremely hot because there was not a fan in my room. It sounded like they were outside of our door and fighting one another. Then to top it all off there was a mosquito in our mosquito netting buzzing around my face! So of course being as dramatic as I am I was thinking if I got bit I was going to get malaria.  With all of that going on, I woke up at 2:30am feeling sick to my stomach and sweating like there was no tomorrow. I stayed up until 4am way too into my thoughts but I finally fell back asleep and got up at 8am for our walking tour. As the day went on it got a little better but I still wasn’t really feeling like being on this trip at all.

As it was time for our second night, I was nervous that it was going to be just like the first night… a nightmare. However, it wasn’t as bad there were no mosquitos, no tears, no dogs barking all night, and best of all… WE GOT A FAN. I was able to sleep through the night and woke up at 6m to get ready to go and have my first experience at the Arusha Primary School. The butterflies in my stomach couldn’t get any bigger. I was extremely nervous because I had no idea if the teacher was going to have me teach or just observe. After talking with the Head Mistress, we determined that I would be in the standard 2 (2nd grade) classroom. After meeting my teacher I had pretty good thought going into it all. I thought that it was going to be a fun class teaching Mathematics with her. She seem to be really nice to ma and willing to allow me to give my input in the class even when she was teaching different subjects. On the first day I did end up teaching …only for 15 minutes but still I was allowed to teach, which was pretty fun. As time went on my thoughts about this class placement began to slightly change. I knew that in Africa corporal punishment was enforced in schools but I just hoped and prayed that my teach didn’t take part in that. However, to my surprise she enforced more than anything. She would hit the students with a stick where the end was wrapped in plastic, she would pull their ears, and even pinch them in their backs. I do understand their reasons for practicing corporal punishment but I personally feel and agree with what another student in our GVSU class said, if this corporal punishment is believed to work and stop bad behavior,then why is it still needing to be done so much at what is close to the end of the school year? I feel that my teacher is just way too hard on the students and its hard to see them getting beaten for little things like dropping their ruler or not making their paper setup look exactly like hers as it is presented on the blackboard. My relation ship with my teacher is pretty good I guess but she is the head of standard 2, which means that all of the other standard 2 teachers exactly what she says and no different. She has her set ways that things need to be written and taught which makes it hard to try new things in her classroom but all I can do is hope that things get better as this trip continues.

With everything going on in the standard 2 classroom my mindset wasn’t really where it should have been in focusing on the positive instead of the negative. But on the third day of going school, as Morgan and I walked to “tea time” I was stopped by one of the male teachers. It turned out that he was a standard 4 teacher and he really wanted me to come and teach his math class with him. I was hesitant at first because I had no idea what the 4th graders were learning and what I would have to teach. At lunch time, he approached me again and showed me around the school –which is huge by the way because it is like a college campus– and he told me that me would love for me to teach his standard 4 students roman numerals from 1 to 50. Once he said that I felt a little relieved but still nervous because I was unsure how someone would teach roman numerals because we don’t really focus on that back home. In the end, something inside of me told me to just give it a shot. With professor Kasmer’s support, I gained the courage to just go for it and see what happens.

Today is the 4th day and I taught mathematics for the standard 2 class as normal for the first period of the day then I went off on my adventure to the standard four classroom for second period to teach them roman numerals… I love teaching standard 4. It was amazing they are so much more well-behaved and they listen when you ask them to be quiet. They truly understand that they are to respect me as they do their typical teacher and I loved it. My standard 2 students on the other hand, only listened when their typical teacher was in the classroom. Even if she stood in the doorway it immediately turned into a mad house.

As each day goes by I feel a little better about this trip and being in Africa. I just must continue to take it one day at a time. I look forward to continuing to teach my standard 2 class and my two new standard 4 classes for the rest of this trip. I initially thought was here to teach them so much about everything that I know but really they are teaching me more and more each day about their culture and their lifestyle. But the are also they are teaching me so much about myself. 🙂

~Fawn T.

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