Before this trip I understood coming to Tanzania would change me, but I didn’t know how exactly it would. Now, two days before getting back on that plane I can say that the goals I have for myself have become more clear, the culture in Tanzania impacts a large part of its education system, and learning about this culture will impact how I teach in the future.
My goals beyond just being a classroom teacher are to take classes to learn more about special education. This trip made me believe that everyone should have a strong background in special education because anywhere you go as a teacher you ALWAYS will work with students with different abilities; even in Tanzania. Special education in Tanzania is definitely lacking, and the culture is not as accepting of people with disabilities. In America though, people with disabilities for the most part are accepted in our culture, schools have at least 5 special education teachers or para-pros, and people with disabilities can still play a role in our society. Being able to visit the special education college during this trip showed me how advanced America is in this area and how needed special education really is for all teachers. Also, along with the goal of becoming certified in special education I have a goal of being a school principal and then hopefully one day to become an education professor at a university and take college students on these types of trips. This trip has taught me a lot about this culture and how they value education. I think having these types of experiences puts your mindset of teaching at a whole other level. It creates a diverse picture in your mind and especially with coming to a developing country, creates an appreciation for the education system in America. This trip I feel has created more humbled, down to earth, passionate teachers in all of us. We want to be able to give our students everything and being able to see a system were students have very little, we can go back and make a bigger impact because we have so much at our fingertips. I have learned from all of this that my main goal as a teacher is to make a difference, and to do that I must educate myself.
I have also learned that education in not only in Tanzania but every country is ruled by money. Money holds the real power, and whoever has it can influence where people get in the world in education. If students do not pass the exam to get into secondary school, their families can pay for them to retake the grade at another school and retest. The economic reality here in Tanzania though, is that families who are poor only send the students who they think will succeed or be able to find jobs easier (usually non-disabled boys). This harsh reality is how many of these people live and its disheartening knowing that women and people with disabilities are not always allowed to have a proper education. But there is little to be done because much of it has to do with their patriarchal culture and the fact that Tanzania is a developing country and often women must stay home to support a family. This culture shock through our discussions has made me passionate about teaching people how important education really is and I hope through teaching I will be able to instill compassion in my students hearts for making a difference in some shape or form. I know as I return to the states that my teacher assisting classroom is waiting for me to share all about my trip. I hope that by doing so I can give them a little more insight into the world around them.