Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dinner at Eight: Dress: Formal

Another “formal” affair. Mr. Mheni escorts us to Form 4 classroom. Students seated as if for class. There is no measure of the number. A mix of third and first form students. Many familiar faces. We are seated in front, with Mr. Mheni presiding.

After the students sing the school song—the work “Ipalamwa” rings out followed by a high soprano refrain—we are seated. Mheni offers a few words, then we are asked to speak. Yasmin gives a from-the-heart thank you, very gracious, very warm. Eloise, although earlier indicating she would only offer a few words, having said her goodbyes in class and fearing the emotional impact of the evening, spoke sincerely of the gift to us all.

Bill noted the faith of the students and the strength the students received from their faith in God. He then read a Poem for Ipalamwa, which expressed his impression and sense of Ipalamwa, the students, staff and villagers. Mr. Mheni then gave students a chance to speak.

Each thanked us for coming, and each asked our forgiveness for errors they may have made. Yasmin and Eloise assured them there were no errors, no need for forgiveness. My sense is that the request for forgiveness is a part of Tanzanian culture. The request is sincere but calls for no response. It is a formality like the thanks given by each student to Mr. Mheni for the opportunity to speak.

Then the choir sang; Mr. Fanuel sang with others a song for the GV volunteers. All was warm and friendly. We then worked the crowd, sharing handshakes with every student and tight hugs with students who had reached out to us personally. The evening ended.

We made our way back with students and staff; more goodbyes. Evans, Macombe and Ellymark flirted by our door some time; Yasmin, full of energy and delight took many photos, and all were swept up in the moment that will last.