Tanzania has blown me away. Before arriving I really had no idea what to expect. All of the pictures of Africa that I had seen were of places like the Serengeti or villages like that of the Masai, but never did I see a picture of a city or a busy street full of cars. That is exactly what I saw as we headed into town on our first day. There were cars zipping past us on the one main road that runs through town. Once we got into downtown Arusha it was not a small, quiet town like I had expected. There were lots of buildings, bustling people, and crazy traffic. It was an overwhelming experience with the rush of new sights, smells, sounds, and people. Everyone greeted us as we passed and helped us as we struggled to reply in Swahili. It was an awesome and eye opening experience that has definitely changed my view of Tanzania.
Touring the city was a great experience, but going into school for the first time was by far the most amazing thing. I was very nervous for our first day at school and I had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know if they would even remember that we were coming or if they would even be willing to let us take over their classrooms. We first met the headmistress who gave a very warm welcome to the school and was happy to have us. After talking with her for a while we headed with the dean of academics to the teacher’s lounge/office where we sat and waited as she went around finding a placement for each of us. While sitting in the teacher’s lounge we got a chance to talk with some of the other teachers and find out a little about their lives and Arusha Primary. This is where we also got to experience tea time for the very first time! At 10 a.m. every day the students and teachers have a half an hour break to eat bread and drink tea. I am not a tea drinker, but this tea was REALLY good! The teachers were amazed that we do not have tea time in America and enjoyed hearing about our schools. After tea time we finally got the opportunity to meet our teacher’s and our classroom. As my teacher led me to the classroom for the first time, I could see the students peering out the windows and the excitement as we neared the buildings. As soon as we entered the classroom, the whole class stood and said “Good morning teachers how are you?” It was so awesome to see! I have never been greeted like that when entering a classroom and I loved it! I did not get to teach on the first day, but getting to meet the students, teachers, and see the school was an unforgettable experience.
I am loving being in the classroom and getting to interact with the students. They are all very curious about the United States and what it is like here. I have been asked several times to sing our national anthem, and finally caved in when they agreed to sing me theirs. They love getting their picture taken and seeing pictures of the snow and friends and family from back home. All of the students and teachers greet us every morning with a smile. Even though we have to get up early every morning for school, when we walk in those gates I am reminded that it is totally worth it!