I knew before coming here that I would get heckled and hassled by locals to buy things from them. I also thought that I wouldn’t get bothered as much because I would blend in a bit. It turns out the opposite is true. I’m a walking target.
People would spot me walking amongst a group of volunteers and walk along side, telling me “You are African”, “We are brothers”, “Buy from me brother”, “Take me to America with you kaka.” I was even asked to leave my volunteer group and come join them. Some guy also told me that he loves me. Even when I avoid eye contact, they follow me everywhere; noticeably more than the other volunteers. It’s becoming increasingly pesky.
Arianna (Chicago) and I were placed at Shining Star Pre-Primary School. It’s a small school with only three classrooms and about 30 children with their ages ranging from three to eight years old. I handle the older kids while Ari takes care of the smaller ones. The teacher ( I don’t recall her name) in my class pretty much let’s me teach whatever I want, which I love. After a twenty minute session of songs in Swahili and English, songs I’ve never heard of, the teacher asked me if I knew any American songs. I know tons, but I drew a blank. The kids english isn’t very good and they wouldn’t understand much. But then I remembered a song I learned at the Christian Primary in South Africa. The Banana Song. The kids loved it in South Africa, I figured they would like it here too. And they did! Hopefully it sticks with them.
I like this school because it’s small. It gives me the chance to help each student one by one and to help develop them at their own pace. Everything is basic here: basic math, basic phonics, and beginners english. The teacher lets me test each individual student in all subjects and help them with their wrong answers. They’re simple questions. But some of the students have no clue how to do simple math problems. They couldn’t grasp the concept of the number zero.
I would try and explain how zero equals nothing, nada, zilch. I would even use my fingers to count and hide them to emphasize how I have zero fingers. I never imagined it would be so tough to explain. There is this student, Paulo, who associates the numbers one through ten with a specific finger. The index finger on his right hand is always four, no matter how many other fingers he’s holding up. I would hold up one index finger and he would say four. I’d say thats not correct but he insists he is. Fortunately, I have enough time with these kids to help them understand though.
This school is in desperate need of supplies. The teachers use knives to sharpen they few pencils they have. Students use these flimsy notebooks to write all their work in. When the teacher hands out worksheets, I notice that she literally creates each worksheet by hand to give to each student. Copy machines and computers don’t exist here. No electricity. I plan on buying them as much supplies as I can. To start, thanks to Lauren, I gave them sharpeners, erasers, and most importantly pencils.
As usual, my favorite part of the school day is when I get to play with the kids outside. Ari and I taught them how to play games like Mister Fox and Duck Duck Goose. They also taught us their version of tug-of-war.
The girls out number the guys by a lot so I thought I’d step in and help my boys out.
Later on after school, Lauren and I met up with some locals in downtown Arusha. Even though our project coordinators told us not to wander or take the dalla dalla at night, we did anyway. I never felt in the slightest bit in danger and add in the fact that we were with locals who knew the area well.
I have this terrible dry cough that I have had for the past couple days that is getting progressively worse. So I took it easy for awhile because soon I will be partaking in a four day safari through this amazing country :).