The Beginning of the End: Week 7 by Betsy Mansfield

We’re in our last week. That statement seems impossible to wrap my head around. It has almost been two months, and it seems both just yesterday and a lifetime ago that I was boarding the plane to fly here. Reflecting back on our experiences, the people we have met and all the things we have learned I am awed by the amazing time we’ve had here. Working alongside the teachers and students has been a gift and I feel we all have learned so much. This past week was no exception.

 

We spent the previous week at Shalom School, a primary school about a half an hour away from our apartments. The classes are fairly small, however not as small as Swifts Junior Academy where we worked two weeks ago, and the students were all so happy and receptive. We worked with a different class or stream each day so we got to experience different settings and subjects as we went along. Earlier in the trip we had the opportunity to sit in on some of the classes at Shalom and observe the teachers. This was a great experience, as we usually don’t have the chance to watch the teachers in action. It allowed us to see how the teachers and school operated and what the students experienced daily.

We started on Tuesday with Class 3s, who were learning the habitats of different animals. We split up into groups and acted out animals that lived in water habitats, land habitats and water and land habitats. We took pictures of the students acting out the animals and then cut them out and taped them to white pieces of paper. The students then drew the habitat that the animal lived in around their photo and wrote information about that animal on the back of the poster. I think this is one of my favourite activities we have done thus far. The students seemed to really enjoy acting out the animals and the final products were really cool to look at. Each student worked in pairs so they were able to collaborate and create amazing results.

 

I think my favorite of all the posters was one the Nate and Naty’s group created.They were working with animals in water habitats and the student chose octopus. The photo they took was incredible as they collaborated between four students to make the eight -armed creature. Their creativity was awesome to see and the picture turned out really fun as well.

 

LTP incorporates a lot of different learning techniques, not just through photography. We next worked with the Class 4s where we implemented Learning Through Play. Mishi and Emily led a lesson on Physical Geography and different landforms such as plateau, plains, valleys and so on. We then went outside and played a game where the students made the shape of the feature with their arms in different sized groups. It was a lot of fun to both watch and participate in. In the afternoon on Wednesday the entire school had a debate that we were able to sit in on and watch. Each week the students hold a debate or writing competition to change things up. Each class has their own topic and each stream was debating one side. I sat in on the Class 5 debate on whether Reading Books was better than watching TV. Some of the other topics included, ‘single life is better than married life, and ‘boarding school is better than day school.’ The set up was interesting to watch considering each stream had about 30-35 students in the class. It worked out really well— most of the students participated and all made interesting and well thought out points.

 

We continued our work with Class 5 and PDS. PDS stands for Personal Development and Sports. The students were learning traditional games and had been talking about teamwork. Dish and Nate led the lesson where we played numerous games that involved teamwork. These included Blob tag and the Human knot, where students had to hold hands work together to tag others or untangle themselves from a knot they created. The last part of Thursday was spent with the Class 6 streams working on adjectives. Each group wrote stories using 20 adjectives and then took a picture to illustrate a part of the story. The creativity that the students had when writing their stories was fascinating to watch the pictures turned out great.

 

We ended our week by working with one stream of Class 2 and one stream of Class 1. In Class 2 we created an animal alphabet where the students acted out the animals for each letter of the alphabet. While 5 of us worked with Class 1 playing games and working on an English lesson, Katie, Nate and I took a trip down to the River Themi with Class 3. The walk down was pretty steep so we and the other teachers had to help the 60 students climb down the slope one at a time. Students observed the plants and animals in their surroundings for science class. Overall our time at Shalom was spectacular, we learned a lot from the students and had a really good time working with each of the different classes.

 

 

We also continued with our after school programs each day after school at Arusha School. In my group we are still learning about animals through reading some of the books I brought and drawing pictures of different animals. I have really enjoyed getting to know all of my students and it is always great to see them at the end of the day. As our time is winding down we are preparing for the exhibition that is to happen this Wednesday. We were even lucky enough to be able to eat dinner at Arusha School on Thursday night. We waited until sunset to eat as it is Ramadan and Pelle, Kasim and many of the students are fasting. The food was delicious and it was so much fun to be able to stay with the students more and talk to them while they ate.

 

Our weekend was spent here in Arusha wrapping up some last minute things, and travelling around town on different errands. We spent a good part of Saturday interviewing Pelle about his life and his involvement in LTP, which was really fascinating. We were able to just sit down and let him talk, and I think we all learned so much from him and were able to hear all about his goals for LTP in Arusha and Tanzania as a whole. After the interview we spent time at Arusha School with the students who were boarders. There were no official after school lessons so we ended up playing games and listening to music all together. It was really nice to just spend more time with the students talking, dancing and laughing. Sunday was spent cooking a lunch to thank our Kiswahili teachers and to say goodbye to them. Everyone chipped in with the cooking and the meal was absolutely delicious. We were able to catch up with our teachers and reminisce about the first two weeks when we had our Kiswahili lessons. It’s hard to believe that our time here is almost over and I am eternally grateful for this experience. I have learned so much while working in the different schools and have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Arusha. I know next week will be a whirlwind but I’m also so excited to go back to Duke and share all of my experiences with others. So here’s to the memories and our final week here!

 

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