“pole, pole,” a post about week one by Kyle Kunkle

As expected for the first week, it was hectic—full of new experiences and questions. To slow down and acclimate with our unfamiliar LTP environment, we took some time to sit in on classes in local schools in order to gain a better understanding of the culture in the Tanzanian classrooms. During two visits to Meru Primary School and Swifts Pre and Primary School each Duke student had the opportunity to observe the similarities and differences between schools in America and here in Tanzania. The two Tanzanian classrooms were very similar with no visual aids on the walls, small beaten up wooden desks, and one small light bulb for the room. At Meru Primary (a government school) students over sixty students lined the nine rows and three columns of small wooden desk with three students to one desk. Later the second half of the class returned from a choir rehearsal, bringing the classroom size to full capacity with 120 students. During our second school visit we saw the other end of the spectrum—at Swifts Primary (a private school) the classroom size averaged only 12 students—a tenth of the number of students in nearly the same size classroom.

As a start to our LTP work and our eight weeks here in Tanzania, we held a two-day LTP workshop for local school inspectors and education officers and administrators. Our goal was to introduce LTP to these local leaders in order to build enthusiasm and stress the importance for these individuals to work with the teachers in the schools and encourage them to use LTP in the students’ curriculum. In the two days, the DukeEngage students split the participants into small groups of three or four and worked on a picture taking exercise, focusing on Proverbs in both Kiswahili and English and also an alphabet project for various subjects including history, geography, science and life skills. Both projects allowed for the local leaders to engage themselves in LTP and view the power and influence of a camera.

Although American culture does not have the abundance of proverbs like Tanzanian culture, many local proverbs hold great value and lessons that we’ll remember as we move forward with our LTP work in Tanzania. In working with these local leaders, one of the proverb projects that my group picked to take a picture of shed light on the process of bringing LTP into the classrooms of Tanzania. The proverb was “Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka” translating to mean “Hurry Hurry Has No Luck”. Our group has become familiar with this idea as we are becoming accustomed to Tanzanian time and the commonly used word in kiswahili “pole pole”; meaning “slowly slowly.”  As our DukeEngage group moves forward, we must recognize that bringing LTP into the classrooms will not happen overnight and in order for LTP to find a secure position in students’ curriculum we must slowly work to solve problems, answer question, and build an overall better understanding of LTP. Whether you say “pole pole” or “slowly slowly,” in our next seven weeks, as a group, we will teach and work with one school officer at a time, one teacher at a time, and one student at a time; and pole pole we will unify LTP with the classrooms and schools across Tanzania.

An illustration of the swahili proverb “haraka haraka, haina baraka” or hurry hurry has no luck.

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