The First Week and Safari!

Last week was our arrival and our first week of school. I could do without ever having to spend 16 hours on airplanes again, but it was sure worth it.

Teaching here is so much different than teaching in America. The schools are very different, or the school I am placed at is very different at least.  For one, they don’t have real bathrooms, just holes in the ground. They still use chalkboards and chalk, but the boards are old and falling apart, and they don’t have enough erasers for the school. Only one classroom has a real eraser. They have a very different schedule, so for example, freshman only have history twice a week. It’s a unique way to schedule. Also, teachers are still allowed to hit students here. Watching a student get hit with a cane for the first time was a bit of a culture shock for me. The students are very eager to learn though. They have to pay for education here, so they take their learning very seriously. They are also very respectful. All the students stand up to greet every teacher when they walk in the room, even if that teacher isn’t coming to teach them, and they never talk or goof around while the teacher is talking. Also, they have tea time from 10:10-10:30 everyday, so I have had to adjust to having bread and butter sandwiches and tea with the other teachers (all of which is provided by the school). The other teachers have been very helpful in teaching us about their school and the local culture. I think they appreciate what we’re doing as well. They are constantly giving us new words to learn and teaching us random tidbits about their culture such as when to use certain forms of words and different greetings. It has been very helpful, and random people on the street are impressed with us when we speak since they just assumed we would know nothing about their language.

All the people here are very friendly. People with nothing but a rood will bend over backwards to help whoever they can. It’s a very caring culture. Everyone wants to talk to us so that they can learn about America and so we can learn about Tanzania and it’s people. They are a very rich and colorful culture here. I have been in a heaven of sorts getting to immerse myself in their culture and learn about it. I’m loving it. I think Americans could learn a little bit from the Tanzanians (at least the ones here in Arusha).

We just got back from a four day safari across the Serengeti and in the Ngorogoro crater, and it was the most amazing experience of my life. To begin with, the land itself is gorgeous. The crater is very green and lush around the edges, and it is more tall grass on the inside. The visuals are just stunning, and the rim is massive. The crater used to be a volcano, but it detonated and collapsed on itself a long time ago, and is now a self-contained ecosystem. It went from being the highest point in Tanzania and all of Africa to being the third highest. I can’t remember if it’s the third highest in just Tanzania or all of Africa, but it’s one of the two. Either way, it is absolutely stunning. On top of that, the creatures there are amazing. They are all so close to each other in the crater. Our drivers told us that this is the only place in Tanzania that we would see so many species in such close proximity to each other and interacting with each other, and I bet they’re right! We even got to see a rhino, and that was amazing since there are almost none left. Even our driver, Moses, who has been Safari driving for 22 years was awed by the experience.

The drivers are a species all their own. They know so much about all the animals, and they can spot an animal that I wouldn’t dream of spotting in a hundred years because it is so well hidden. Also, they are hilarious and had me cracking up for a good portion of the trip. Later in our stay, we will face them in soccer/futbol, so I better start practicing.

We have school again tomorrow, so it’s time to rest up!

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