Today was the second day of the English class I am teaching and it went much better than yesterday. My co-teacher was very helpful in translating both ways and the students seem to be warming up to me. I am trying to practice some Swahili in front of them so they can see me struggle as I too try to learn a foreign language so they feel more willing to speak in class. I have sixteen students and class is in a round hut that has a bench around the inner wall and then a table filling the middle of the hut, there are also open windows that provide natural lighting. Class consists of all 18 of us sitting around the table and me occasionally writing on a 2’x4’ white board. This is going to be a very good learning experience for me. I have to make lesson plans and make homework assignments. The main difficulty here is the lack or resources in terms of a course book and ample paper. But once I make up my lessons, I will be able to go to town and make copies of worksheets. I just have to be resourceful here. It is not impossible to do what I need; it is just very different from our school system.
This afternoon I co-taught a computer class. There are about 45 students in this 3-hour class and we only have 5 computers that are working right now and a computer room that can probably fit 20 people max. To address this discrepancy we split the students into 3 groups and allowed one group in at a time, where they were put three to a computer. For some of these students this was the first time they had seen or used a computer. We spent 45 minutes with each group and spent most of the time showing the students how to turn a computer on and off, how to use the mouse and how to open programs. This situation helps to highlight the technology gap that exists in countries like Tanzania, and that most Americans are so unfamiliar with. I enjoy this class a lot because the students are so eager to learn how to use the computer and I can easily show them what to do so I don’t have to struggle with the language barrier so much.
After computers we played basketball for 45 minutes. Now I am not the best basketball player (as some of you already know) so I rarely play but for a lot of the students here basketball is a new sport to them or one they can’t play often so their skill level makes me feel comfortable enough to play. I had fun playing but I think they were trying to be nice by letting me play the whole time not knowing that I am in terrible shape so I had to sub out halfway through. I am glad though that I am getting my exercise in. I have been somewhat put in charge of sports since I played a sport in college, (even though none of them have heard of softball and it took me at least ten minutes to try to explain and I still don’t think they understood). Yet, I am signed up as a coach of a soccer team now and have to help lead and participate in all other sport activities that take place. I am definitely staying busy here!