Monday, January 31, 2011

Team Journal ~ January 31

January 31, 2011

"Charlie Brown may feel sorry for himself, but he gets over it fast. He is ennobled by how he handles being disappointed." ~ David Michaelis, biographer of Charles Schultz.

Written by: Volunteer Don

Weather update: Man, when the rains come, they come hard.

Today saw us returning to school for our second week of work at the secondary and primary schools. I worked with the form three English class, taking over the academic mistress’s classes as she is absent while taking exams for two weeks. We worked with dictation using a Ugandan song, and it was a lesson in how hard it is to understanding American English. But the good news is, these kids don’t get frustrated: they speak up, laugh, and we make sure everyone understands. I was stranded at school when the rains came down, and afterwards ate lunch in the duka with some other teachers. After lunch, I worked for awhile with form two students practicing English, which broke into an impromptu kucheza party when a student started beatboxing a Michael Jackson song and students jumped up to show off their moves. Afterwards, they took me to the Grounds, where we watched the football match until dinner time.

Don the Third continued his musical act today, continuing to entertain teachers and students alike. He worked with form 4 trigonometry, and focused on trignometric function tables. In the afternoon he worked with a group of students, teaching English and harmonica-sizing. After dinner, we heard barking noises and found Don outside exchanging animal noises with village kids.

Don Marshall taught chem classes, sat in on a biology class on genetics, prepped for tomorrow, and wrapped up the day by helping at the primary school teaching English. He calls his teaching style “hunter gatherer”. In other news, on a pun scale, it was a low pun day.

Mickey began the day by drawing a picture of a sewing machine and labeling parts, made a pattern for a bag, and in afternoon taught English at primary school.

Connie lay in bed this morning, attempting to figure out the bird noises coming from outside her room. She learned a little Swahili today, too, coloring the alphabet, and worked at the primary school teaching English.

Carol worked with form 2, reviewed vocabulary for things within one’s house and parts of one’s head. In the afternoon she worked with kids, singing songs and getting to know the kids as a group.

And so our first full week in Pommern continues! Edward leaves tomorrow for Iringa: safari njema!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Team Journal ~ January 26

January 26, 2011

Written by: Volunteer Carol

Quote for the Day: “If I am through learning, I’m through.” ~ Coach John Wooden

After a cold shower my brains freeze and I volunteer to write the GV Journal of the day. Breakfast is lovely with the addition of light, delicious pancakes.

Edward makes sure we know what our assignments are and we walk to school at 8:00. Each of us follows our given assignment and most of us appear at 10:10 for Tea in the Teacher Lounge seemingly in great shape. Personally, it is a pleasure to sit down, drink tea, eat fried dough, and gather my strength and wits for the next couple of hours of helping out.

Connie Randolf and I helped out in Form I English classes between 8:15 and 10:10. Each class had between 70-80 students. The kids behaved excellently. The teacher was a good teacher, but looked like he was flying by the seat of his pants. It turned out that the computer teacher was filling in for an absent English teacher.

At tea when asked for comments I said, “I am truly impressed with all of you, (teachers) and your students for being so well behaved. I give all of you so much credit for the wonderful job you are doing.”

After tea, Connie and I go into another Form I English class. It is much smaller, only about 45-50 students. The young man teaching the class looks like one of the students. He is wearing a white t-shirt and he doesn’t seem to know anything about the lesson. He checks his cell phone and after 20 minutes he leaves. He says, “I am a From VI chemistry teacher and have to go there now.” Connie and I don’t know what to do, so we go to the 2nd Headmaster. After a short conversation with him we go back to the class and together Connie and I teach the class. We finish off the morning in a Form II class, orally giving them a Practice Final exam.

I trudge up the hill looking forward to Nesia’s lunch and I am not disappointed.

At lunch I give my team members a slip of paper and ask them for the highlights of their day for this report. Here they are:

Don III – Mirrored Mr. Sakoki, math instructor, in Forms II and IV. He helped with an introduction to Trigonometry. He also had a long conversation in Spanish with one of the local Roman Catholic Franciscan priests.

Katie – The best part of today was students’ insatiable curiosity and friendliness. They have a hunger to know me and America, and I had a great cultural exchange when some students overcame their fear of ‘wasungu’ (fear of white people and Americans). They ate ugali and beans with me and some of the teachers. It was a moment of great community.

Mickey - I typed a history synopsis of World War I in the morning. In the afternoon I pulled weeds in the garden and then went to the secondary school to teach Spanish.

Don I – I taught in Form II Chemistry. It is old fashioned and the teacher spoke in Swahili. I did a fruitless search for the Periodic Tables in the library and the Chemistry Lab. I discussed cleaning the solar cells with the headmaster. I also tutored Form III and Form IV Chemistry students.

Connie – Helped Adriane teach English through a mapping exercise to large classes to many children with no pencils or unsharpened ones and no sharpener. A class with a Chemistry teacher filling in for English was not so successful. A small group for conversational English was much more fun. Don III acting as my faithful lantern holder so I could write this journal entry by the warmth of the fireplace was nice.

Carol- My small group for conversational English was great fun. I showed them pictures of my family, we talked about the animals they have seen, and just enjoyed each other.

Edward personally invited us to a special treat after teaching. He took us to Ashanti Kentucky where we enjoyed a drink of our choice and quiet conversation.

Nesia out did herself with dinner. We had perfectly steamed rice with a mixture of green beans, carrots, tomatoes and onion to put over it. There was also chicken, lovely bitter greens and guacamole. Mango for dessert was perfect.

A short meeting to make sure we know what our duties are for tomorrow finish off the formal day.

As I sit here writing this, the others sit around the table and discuss lesson plans for tomorrow. It reminds me of days around the dining room table doing homework with my sons. I smile thinking how full our days are and what a wonderful experience this is. I would say we’re not through!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Team Journal ~ Last Day in Pommern...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thought of the day: “What you don’t learn from your mother, you learn from the world.” – Masai Wisdom

It is our last morning here - we leave at noon today. Classes aren’t in session - all students but form one are out of class getting ready for graduation. Many students are out in the courtyard cutting grass and wave to me as I head to the English Department.

School was positively buzzing, excited for the graduation ceremony.

It is so hard to say goodbye when you don’t want to leave. After lunch, we left Pommern, making our way down the bumpy, brilliantly red road, the landscape stretching around us, breathtaking and heartbreaking at once.

I am sad to look at it for the last time.

Eventually, we reached the Lutheran Center in Iringa. Our time in Pommern was officially over.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tanzania Volunteer John Alsup featured in Rapid City Journal!!

Tanzania Volunteer John Alsup was featured on January 12th in the Rapid City Journal. Use the link below to view the full article, or read below for a taste of John's article!!


BHSU professor aims to develop education in Africa

"It was 2006, and the Black Hills State University professor was trying to 'reorient my life and figure out what was important' when he saw a UNICEF commercial on Darfur, Sudan.

'I thought it might be wonderful to see if I could help in some way,' he said.

Alsup ended up traveling to Africa in July and August of 2007 to teach math in a rural village deep in Tanzania with the help of Global Volunteers, an organization that facilitates nonprofit, short-term volunteer work for people in education and health services.

Alsup shared his work with students and staff at BHSU earlier this year. He has also been called to share with others around the world. Since his trip to Tanzania, Alsup has traveled to Korea, Europe and Greece, as well as several conferences in the U.S., to speak about his trip and his work.

'My passion is education within the developing world,' he said.

His trip to Tanzania was 'life-changing,' he said. Many of the African villages have been stricken with HIV and malaria. Poverty is a way of life, and education is often one of the only ways to escape it.

While in Africa, Alsup taught elementary and high school math to 80 students in a packed classroom.

'It was an amazing experience,' he said.

His goal now, he said, is to bring awareness to people in the U.S.

'I want to highlight, emphasize and bring awareness without being righteous about it,' he said, so people will be more conscious of the developing world."

If you're interested in joining us in Tanzania in 2011, please call us today at 1-800-487-1074!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Team Journal ~ January 10

Monday January 10, 2011

Quote of the Day: “A little hard work never killed anybody.”

Written by: Volunteer Brendan

It was another lovely day in Pommern and the sun was shining but there were some clouds off in the distance. We all expected a rain at some point during the day.

Today was supposed to be the day were the students and the teachers should all have been at the school, the timetable should be ready, and the school should be more organized. Kate and I (Brendan) walked down to go teach classes. Jean went to make a detailed map of the school and to use her landscape architect skills to draw the dimentions of the school. And Allie went with Moses to work on the wall of the kitchen.

When I arrived at the school I was told that the chemistry teacher Prosper that I was working with was on a “Journey” and would not return until Thursday, maybe. I was put in a small class of form 2 students. As the class progressed more and more students come into the room. Then Kate came in and then Jean. At the start there were about 20 students and at the end it was more towards 50. Then a teacher came in and said he was suppose to start teaching these student physics about 20 minutes ago and he decided he wanted to start now. Allie was getting fustarated at the slow pace of the construction of the kitchen so she left to go help Jean. Then Kate and I were put in a classroom with form 1 students to teach English with the help of 2 form 6 students to translate. Then it was lunch time at the mission house.

After lunch Kate went back to the school and hung out with 2 girls who brought her to see the dorms and she also had lunch with all of the students. She was happy to get a glimpse into the life of a student.

Allie and I worked on the wall. With her and I working at a good pace with Moses, much work had gotten done. I think we inspired Moses to work harder and faster. Finally, we seemed to get a good amount done in a short period of time before a heavy rain started.

Then we walked home getting soaked where Allie washed her hair and clothes by rubbing soap on her and standing in the rain. The Pommern people must think we are all crazy. Jean was here working on her map and we all sat around a fire Mohamed had built. Then Kate returned when the rain died down. That night we had dinner and continued to discuss how we could be more productive in our limited time left here in Pommern!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Team Journal ~ January 5

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Quote of the Day: “A mouse never shares a dish with a cat.” – African Proverb

Written by: Volunteer Katie

This morning, I (Katie) observed Margaret’s class, mostly students aging 12-15. They practiced greetings, like “good morning/afternoon/evening, sir/madame.” There were 66 children in the class, and I felt like an awkward American when I broke every piece of chalk trying to write on the blackboard. I had even more trouble attempting to draw stick figures, but all was not lost. Students were earnest and they listened, and they genuinely wanted to write well, using rulers to great straight lines in their notebooks. But alas, many students couldn’t see the blackboard because of the sun’s glare—although we have this problem in America, too—the lights shine on the white board.

Margaret has taught me that a good teacher is a good teacher — no matter your circumstances. She is fun, enthusiastic, smiling, and manages to make sure every single student is attentive.

Later, Bibi and I taught greetings to some students, much like the greetings the form one students in Margaret’s class had done. When some students came to the front to practice, they were met with applause. After class, Bibi and I sat outside, practicing our Swahili.

The supplies here are attention-getting, if simply because of how teachers and students manage with so little. Multiple teachers share one book (for example, during Form One oritentation, share the few copies of Baseline), often having to scramble to find one before their class begins. And unlike in America, where teachers often have their own classrooms and students rotate, here the teachers rotate, moving from Form Three A to Form Three B.

Brendan continued to work in science classes but is considering working at the kitchen, too, which Allie has been doing. They head to the kitchen together after lunch, when Bibi and I work on lesson plans. After lunch (delicious omelettes drenched in tomato sauce, toast and PB, fresh mango that Edward bought this morning), the rain began, announcing its arrival on the tin roof.

Last night Mohamed had told us tonight would bring no stars, and he was right. We worried about Allie and Brendan out there in the rain, but eventually they arrived safely home.