Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Big Move

     Leaving RVCV was hard for me. Two days before I left we had the end of semester teacher's dinner party. I gave a thank you speech and then all the teachers got in a big line and sang to me as they paraded around teasing me with presents. At that point I realized that these teachers have become my family. They brought me in with open arms and we worked together as colleges and as friends. I miss their smiles, I miss playing cards with them in the teacher's office, I miss them trying to make me eat bread and tea everyday.
     RVCV was a great place for me to start exploring Tanzania. It was a place where I made strong connections, with other westerns, with Tanzanians, and most importantly with children. It is a crazy feeling when you love a child. A child from another another country, another family, another culture. I miss those kids as much they drove me up the wall sometimes. I miss their good mornings as I stumbled out of bed half awake. I miss their ability to get me to turn back into a kid. With kids you have to just laugh. You have to appreciated how they look at the world. These kids had their worlds crushed when they lost their families. Yet they are the ones smiling and playing everyday.
      But all things must come to an end. I knew it was time for me to grow and 'get uncomfortable' again. It is important to shake things up, to be scared, to try new things. And that is what I did. I was scared leaving RVCV, getting in the bus to go to Arusha. By myself, with only my belongings, and a hope that my new home would be a good one.
     And here I am. I am now living in Tengeru, 15km outside Arusha center. It just takes a quick pikipiki (motorcycle) ride to a dolla dolla to get into city center. The total of that trip 1,400 shillings or a little under a dollar.
     For the next three and a half months I will be living and teaching at Peace Matunda school/orphanage. Two weeks ago I starting teaching Standard 4 and 5 math in the mornings. In the afternoons I work on either the volunteer program or school development. The school has accomplished so much in a short time but has a way to go. I started developing a disciplinary code to provide more structure for the school. I am also helping to start a teacher to teacher observation program so that they can starting learning from each other. PM is lucky to have so many donations from western countries but the key is showing the teachers how manipulatives work and how differentiating curriculum can help kids learn. That last sentence is a long term goal. It is very complicated coming into a school and trying to help. I am coming into their culture and their school. I cant forget learning goes both ways.

Some new things for me here at Peace Matunda:

  • I hand wash all my cloths. I have already learned that waiting two and a half weeks to do laundry is a BAD idea. My hands are raw after spending 5 hours on laundry the last two days. I now appreciate washing machines.
  • Don't pet Itchy. Itchy is the PM dog and has that name for a reason. After a few flee bites I have learned that even though I miss having a dog...its just not worth it.
  • I can't say I am from the East Coast anymore. At night and in the mornings it is SO COLD. I found myself one night in full sweats, hat, scarf and layers underneath....under 3 blankets...yeah it was 50 degrees.
  • WEAR sunglasses while riding on the back of a pikpiki. No matter if it rains or not the roads are so dusty. I get off the pikipiki and have a line of dirt around my sunglass rims.
  • Instead of ugi time (porridge) for snack at school, Peace Matunda has banana time! I am surrounded by fields and fields of bananas!!!
  • Roosters do not know what time it is....ever.

***Little to no internet here and I am working my butt off so probably will not blog often...this one was for you Dad!


  1. Jill: This may be your best post to date. Thank you for updating everyone. I'll post the link on Facebook and Google+.
    We love you.

  2. Thanks for the update. I really enjoy reading what you're up to. Such fantastic work! Appreciate the sharing.