This trip has been a once in a lifetime experience. We have had many opportunities to learn while visiting Tanzania whether it be from talking to people on the street, teaching in the schools, or hanging out with the Safari drivers. As I have worked in the schools this past month I have learned a great deal about teaching as well as myself as a teacher. I have had the opportunity to write lesson plans ahead of time as well as come up with ideas on the spot. Being able to submerse myself in another culture allowed me to see views of education as well as discipline from a different point of view. Although I absolutely do not agree with corporal punishment I can see from their point of view that it is all they know and they do not have the opportunity or training to use different discipline ideas. While teaching at Lutheran we have had the opportunity to participate in morning worship which at times also consists of debates over issues. One of these debates involved the fact that the teachers hadn’t been paid for over a month. In America I couldn’t even imagine that happening and the fact that these teachers were still showing up each day and teaching showed me the dedication and love they have for the children. I was able to see from them that money isn’t everything but being kind to your friends, family, and neighbors was more important. They have taught me to love everyone and to be as giving as possible.
While walking around Arusha there has been many opportunities to learn from the people of this country. I have learned that the Tanzanians believe in greeting everyone with kindness. Even the people who are trying to sell things are still so kind and are so loving; it doesn’t even matter to them that they don’t have much but the opportunity to have a conversation with someone is joy to them. In America sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we don’t seem to care about other people. I know for me that I do not talk to my neighbors and if I am passing someone on the street I most of the time will not stop to say hi. This country has made me realize the joy that can come from meeting new people and taking a little time to slow down and take interest in others’ lives. Another huge thing I have learned from my time here is we as Americans are sometimes too concerned with schedules and times. I love the fact that when we go to tea time the teachers yell at us to sit down and relax and enjoy our tea even if that means showing up to a class late. Sometimes I feel like I am rushing around all the time trying to get to places and if I just relaxed a little more and got on “Swahili time” every once in a while I might experience more opportunities in life.
I couldn’t finish this blog without talking about all the students I have met during this opportunity. I have never felt more loved in my whole life than in my time in these schools. Every morning when we arrive to see the smiles on their faces makes my heart melt and I can’t wait to give them hugs and high fives. Tanzanian children absolutely have nowhere near as many materialistic things as children from America but it is amazing to see their ability to share with one another and make the most out of any situation. Anytime when I was teaching in a class and a student didn’t have a pen or pencil I could just make an announcement and someone was willing to share. I have also learned that Tanzanian children aren’t as different from American children as I thought they might be. These kids still fight with one another and have behavioral issues but in the end they are all children and they are amazing. I loved having the opportunity to talk with the students and have them teach me different Swahili words even though they laugh at the way I pronounce things. Overall my students have taught me that the most important part about teaching is to have patience and a loving heart to let them know that they are smart and they can do whatever they set their minds to.