Lasting Impressions

Tuesday May 27th

Today was the last day of teaching at Meru International School. I will be completely honest, I did not think that I bonded with my students as much as other people on this trip. I thought it would be easy to leave knowing that I helped them and taught them for a while and then I would head back home. I mean when I teach and give quizzes and sternly say to quiet down, the students look at me with eyes full of boredom and indifference. Well, today it finally hit me. I don’t know how I am supposed to leave these kids. After our review game of jeopardy, I handed out some prizes and gave every student a pencil and tied up loose ends I guess. I wrote my name on the board along with my email and told them that they can find me on facebook and I would love to be friends with them but they don’t have to feel obligated to add me. Almost every student (or at least every student I saw) whipped out a pen and vigorously wrote the information down – even the students that I admired for their hard work but rarely spoke to me. It is a feeling that I will never be able to explain. We also took time to take a picture as a class and the students all wanted to be next to me or touch me in some way. I didn’t realize they liked me this much.

 

Also, there were these two sweet girls from the form 1 class who called me out of the teacher’s lounge. I was confused why they wanted me and they told me that they got me something so that I would never forget that I came to Tanzania (of course I won’t forget but that’s not the point) and they gave me a bracelet that has the colors of the flag on it. I almost started to cry because that is the sweetest thing! What makes it better though, is I only taught two lessons to the form 1 students and they were history (which I hate) and Kiswahili. I was stunned by their kindness. Overall, I am going to remember everything, but I will never forget the students and their willingness to accept me and their thirst for knowledge. The people here are the sweetest and the happiest people I have ever met. I hope that I made an impact on their lives and their education because they certainly made am impact in my life.  I will never forget these kids.  I love them all.

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Lasting Impressions…

I don’t know where to even begin with this blog post. So many experiences I have had in this amazing country have lead me into learning something new. I have learned so much about the culture here, American culture, teaching, and, most importantly, myself. I could write 25 pages on what I will be taking away from my time here in Tanzania and because of that, it will be easier for me to only focus on what I have taken away from teaching and (in general) how this experience has forever changed me.

 

I will take away an endless amount from my time spent at Lutheran Tetra Primary School. I honestly think that my confidence in my teaching capabilities has skyrocketed. Before, I had a hard time thinking quickly on my feet when it came to finding the best way to help my students learn. Being here, that is almost all I do when I teach. I do not know my students on a personal level, or even know their names for that matter, and I was successful in teaching them new topics in mathematics. I was able to differentiate my instruction, on the spot, when students did not understand. On one of my first days, in my standard three class I was faced with the challenge of teaching a student, who had no idea how to multiply any numbers, to multiply a single digit times a double digit. I noticed that he was adding every number (correctly I should mention) instead of multiplying. I did not have time to sit with this student one-on-one for very long because I had a class of 35+ to manage. I chose to show him a method when he multiplies. I told him to draw circles(groups) of the first number in the multiplication problem as well as dots of equal quantities inside of them, which came from the second number. I used the terms “plates” and “food” so my student could visually see what it means to multiply. I asked him to tell me how much food total and after he added correctly I let him show me the next problem using this method. He smiled so big and was so happy when he did it successfully on his own, I (am not extremely emotional) could have cried. This is one example of how I learned to think quickly on my feet when teaching students who need differentiated instruction.

 

I believe it is needless to say that Africa has changed me. I learned so much about myself as a teacher (touched on a little in the paragraph above) and as a member of a community. I think that one common occurrence I noticed in Tanzania that I hope/plan to take back with me to America is the respect, kindness, and helpfulness people have for one another. I saw this in my school when my students would greet me every morning, on the streets where someone needed help backing their car in reverse and a total stranger assisted in the process, and in stores when multiple items fell off a shelf and anyone who saw immediately rushed to help. If someone dropped a pen in America, someone who saw may or may not pick it up and give it to him or her. In Tanzania, I believe almost everyone who saw you drop something would pick it up and hand it to you. I went to the masai market and made a deal with a women in her shop. As I was walking away, pleased with my purchase, she told me my backpack was unzipped. This is the kindness/helpfulness that almost every person in Tanzania has towards each other and the mzungu(white people). This aspect of their personalities and their culture is what I hope to bring back to America for the rest of my life. I would like to think that I am respectful, kind, and helpful, but not as passionate as the people I have met and seen here. I aspire to be half as respectful, kind, and helpful as the Tanzanians.    

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Lasting Impressions

Lasting Impressions

Una weza kunionyesha Tanzania?

   Can you show me Tanzania? After a month here in this amazing country, I cannot tell you everything about Tanzania. But, I can show you kudogo (a little) of what I have seen. Words cannot truly share what took place here in Arusah. Even if my internet was faster, I don’t think that pictures and videos could help either. Overall, my Tanzanian adventure has been a once and a lifetime experience. Here are some of my lasting impressions from this great trip.

  • Mambo Poa

   Mambo means hello or whats up. Poa means cool or it is cool. Every time I walk by someone on the streets of Arusha I always say Mambo or respond with Poa. These greetings may seem very simple, but they mean much more than just hello. The Tanzanian people are very friendly with greetings, and whats better, the sincerity of them. In fact, greetings in Tanzania are hardly ever just hello. They usually extend to “how are you, how is your family, how was your day”, and much more.Yes. I understand that I am one of the only white people around making me an interesting specimen, but the greetings have not stopped coming. Even after a month I still see peoples faces light up when you respond to their Kiswahili greetings. Looking at the differences between American and Tanzanian culture, I see a world of difference. The people here take time to talk to people they meet on the street, they understand the importance of caring for their friends and complete strangers, and these people want to learn about you and your life. I am thankful that I was able to travel here and relearn how to to be personable and willing to talk to anyone. 

  • Hello Obama

  The westernization in this neck of the woods is an impression that I will remember. There are American rappers on every sign, european football (soccer) players are the main topic of most conversations, christian churches are everywhere, and even some western sayings are used in regular Kiswahili conversation. The most noticiable factor is the impact our president has made on the African people. There are stores called Obama’s Phones, there are pens called Obama pens, and every Tanzanian thinks Obama is the greatest human being in the world. I cannot believe his influence. My teachers assume that since everyone in Tanzania loves Mr. Obama that every American loves him too. This view cannot be changed either. I would love to see Bryce Scholten talk to my teacher friend Mr. Max about our president. In any case, the western culture present in this country cannot be explained. This idea of how much our country in particular matters to people across the world will stick with me. 

  • The Greatest Laugh on Earth 

   We arrived in Tanzania on a Monday. That Wednesday we visited an orphanage. It was cool and all at first, but then I met Baraka. All of the kids were fantastic and I have stories of most of them, but Baraka stands out to me the most. We brought beach balls with us to the orphanage and blew them up to play with. Baraka loved them. His pure joy was displayed by his laugh. I wish I recored this amazing laugh, but I will try to describe it. It was low and very guttural, but it was the most addicting laugh I have ever heard. I will never forget Baraka and the joy we helped bring him every Wednesday. The orphanage made me think about who I am, what I am doing, and what can I do to help people in this world like Baraka. Though I don’t know where God will take me at this point, I do know that there are people in this world that need help and I want to give what I have to make their lives better.

  • Teaching with a Passion

   African teachers are not very happy about where they ended up in life. In fact, most are trying to find a way out of this seemingly “dead end” job. One of our teachers is going to try to become a preacher, another a business man, others want to go to college and find another job. It is so sad. The money may be inadequate, but the kids are worth it. Every day they greet you as you walk into the classroom, there are very few discipline problems, and the kids almost teach themselves. What isn’t to love? I hope the teachers in Arusha School have observed the passion the muzungu’s (white person) have for teaching children. The passion I have for teaching has only increased while going through this study abroad process. I have always known I enjoy hanging out with kids, but I was always weary about teaching in a classroom every day. My choice of being a teacher was reaffirmed. When I saw a student understand a topic that was totally alien to them a half hour before, I confirmed that teaching is what I was made to do. If teaching in the ole USA doesn’t work out, I know I can come back here and do what I love.

  • Teacha Teacha

  Students in Tanzania are not the same as students from the mitten state. My placement for teacher assisting was with fifth graders in America and I taught the fifth grade here in Tanzania. This was awesome for comparison of both types of students. The main difference, from my experience, was students motives. My American students seemed to work for grades or because their parents want them to do well in school. My Tanzanians work hard to learn and succeed. This is a generalization so know that I am not saying all American students are slackers or anything, but there is a difference. Here is an example of what I mean. When doing a simple lecture activity, my students at Arusha School literally stand up with their hands raised and yell “teacha, teacha, teacha!” They want to show what they know, they want to ask questions, they want to learn. These students are awesome! I want to stay and continue to be amazed at the way my Arusha students roll.

I cannot express how much I care about these students after just a month. They have touched my heart and I will never forget them. I cannot wait to see how they learn and grow. I will most definitely never forget hearing “teacha teacha!”

Kwaherini

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Lasting Impressions

It is Day 26 and our flight leaves in less than 24 hours to return to our families… It literally seems like yesterday we left Michigan not knowing where this journey would lead us. And I think it’s safe to say everyone’s lives have been touched in some way by this experience.
Personally, this trip has had a HUGE impact on my life. But as of now, I don’t really know much of what will stay with me. I’m having a hard time stepping back because I’m still immersed in the culture. But soon, when I return home, I know many things will hit me.

However, there is one thing I am very sure about, and that is how fortunate I am back at home. I have my own car. I have thousands of amazing opportunities at Grand Valley where I even get to study abroad. I have safe, clean water to drink. I have access to the most up-to-date technology. I can breathe a sigh of relief every night when I get home from a busy day. And yet, it’s crazy to think people like me could be the least bit sad or depressed. All we (and as much as I would like to deny it, I) focus on is more, more, more. But I’ve learned by living firsthand “more” is not really more.

Overall, I’m beyond grateful for the experiences I had both in and outside the classroom. But from the school aspect of the trip, I am very excited to get in my assigned classroom in the U.S. in the fall. I want to compare and contrast the two teaching worlds which will make me grow so much as a teacher. I am also excited to share my stories with other teachers so our teaching can grow together.

 

Thanks for reading,

Chelsea Chritz

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Life-Lasting Impressions

Today is Wednesday. We are leaving Tanzania tomorrow. Is this real life? I feel like it was just yesterday I was getting off the plane at Kilimanjaro with a group of people who I barely knew, who are now some of my great friends. I feel like it was just yesterday that we ventured into this seemingly big city, eyes wide, a new culture at our fingertips, and now we take on the city of Arusha confidently everyday, waving to the smiling African faces who all call us “rafiki”. I feel like it was just yesterday that I first said good morning to the first students that have ever been mine, and now I’ve already said goodbye to them. As hard as it was to say goodbye to my students yesterday, I have peace knowing that I did what I came to do. I have learned so much here and while it is sad to be leaving this place that is filled to the brim with life-lasting memories and endless life lessons, I am so excited to share what I have learned and continue to grow through whatever God has planned for me next.
As I was hugging my students yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, this is it. This is what God has called me to do. One day spent loving on and serving my students is worth so much more than countless days living for myself. I have loved every moment of teaching and playing with my students, even when their noisiness has made me want to rip my hair out. I have loved every moment of being an encourager for them, I think that has been my favorite part. Telling them that I believe in them never got old. I can’t wait to be a full time teacher and spend my days striving to get my students to reach their full potential.
I have learned so much from the Tanzanian culture, from my fellow teachers, our safari drivers, and other people we have encountered along the way. Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase… it means no worries, for the rest of your days. I think they’ve got it right. These people, fraught with so many more struggles than most Americans face in a lifetime, have tapped into something incredible. Many of the people I have met truly embrace that they have no worries, because they have put their trust in the Lord and trust in Him to meet their needs. When trials inevitably come, they put their trust in the only One who can satisfy, knowing that He is sovereign. These people have little, but they are filled to capacity with the eternal joy that only the Lord can sustain. That being said, this experience has exposed me to people in extreme need, and no longer do I want to remain silent and action-less. God has blessed me with so much so I can give more of Him to those in need. I pray for the desire to serve others with a heart full of Jesus for the rest of my life, and this trip has given me that. For this I am eternally grateful.
For now,

Tutaonana baadaye, Afrika. I have a feeling I’ll see you again.

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Lasting Impressions

This experience has been unforgettable. I can’t believe that tomorrow will be my last day in Arusha, Tanzania. The people, the buildings, the language, the smells, the scenery, the schools, the food, and the culture will all stick with me about of Arusha, Tanzania.
• The people are the most incredible people I have met. The fact that they take the time to greet you every day on the streets even if you are a strangers. They are kind, caring, and the friendliest people.
• The buildings here are beautiful. The different bright paint and unique structures make them unlike something I have ever seen before.
• The language is so unique and fun to speak in. The people of Tanzania take pride in their language that they speak and appreciate if you learn it. Although it is not the easiest to learn being around them all the time you get to know the important phrases to learn.
• The smells are unlike nothing I have ever smelled before. Some smells are not so good but others smell like fresh air and almost relax you.
• The scenery is incredible. The huge mountains, hilly hills, green grass, different leaves and trees, and just everything you see is amazing. It’s hard to take in everything you see here because it doesn’t seem real and pictures do not do justice.
• The schools may not have a lot of money but they all have something special about them and are all unique in their own ways.
• The food may not always look the best, but it usually tastes pretty great.
• It’s hard to explain the culture in a couple sentences. All I can say is that it is interesting and incredible.

I will miss so much about this trip.
I will miss being greeting by complete strangers each day while walking the streets.
I will miss shopping in the Massai market.
I will miss almost getting car sick every morning before school because the roads are so bumpy.
I will miss stepping out of the safari vehicles and being attacked with hugs by so many smiling children.
I will miss my students saying “good morning teacher Emily.”
I will miss trying to get out of tea time with the teachers each day so I can go play with the children.
I will miss waking up to the sound of barking dogs and pouring rain.
I will miss teaching and watching my 84 students grow as learners.
I will miss learning about this amazing culture.
I will miss my favorite student Ukanaike who I wish was my own child.
I will miss kisses on the cheek every morning by my teacher.
I will miss riding the dala dala every day and counting how many people can fit each day.
I will miss spending a month with 30 incredible people and future teachers.

I will never forget this experience and I think that I will be leaving a little piece of my heart here. I hope to come back one day but for now kwaheri Tanzania!

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Lasting Impressions

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this prompt. This trip has been a month long jam packed adventure. There was never a dull moment or a day wasted and for that reason there are hundreds of things that are lasting impressions for me. I’m just going to try to focus on some of the largest “lifelong” lessons that I’ve gained in my time here.

One thing that will last with me forever is the new perspective I have gained on my life in the U.S. I will never again feel like I am missing something from my life or that something is lacking. I will never feel ungrateful for the things I have been given and I will feel infinitely more grateful for the things I have made and earned for myself. The opportunities we have in our country are amazing and so above and beyond anything the people of Tanzania could imagine. The sick thing is there are Americans that complain and complain and talk about their “terrible” life and never feel blessed for what they have. Meanwhile the Tanzanians are happier, friendlier, and just generally more gracious. Americans feel so entitled and that is something I will attempt to never fall victim to again, all because of this trip. I am lucky for what I have and I will forever be grateful to have it.

Another thing that I will never forget is the impact this trip has had in my teaching. I feel so much more confident in my teaching after the experiences I have had here. Now I know that I can be put in practically any situation and be able to be successful. If there is ever a bad day at school, which there will inevitably will be, I can look back at this trip and all the amazing experiences in the classroom I had and just remember that I can do this.

This trip has changed me in so many ways and those are just a couple particular ones that I know will always be in my head. The only way for anyone to truly understand the impact of this trip is to go on it themselves or to get inside my brain. So for now that is all.

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Lasting Impressions

When given the task to write a blog on our “Last Impressions”, I began to really think. How could I possibly narrow down my last impressions from this eye-opening experience into just a few paragraphs? So, I decided to write about my last day of school at Assumption Pre/Primary School.

            Yesterday was our last day of school and it was an amazing, yet an extremely sad day. The thought of leaving all of the students and teachers who I have created such a remarkable bond with this past May really hurts your heart. But, thinking about all I have learned, the friends I have made, and how we have impacted the students makes it much more bearable!

            The teachers at Assumption made our last day a day to remember. The teachers had an assembly with all of the student body to say goodbye and to thank us! It was so great to see all of the students who we have spent the month with all in one area. We were able to thank them all and tell them how much we were going to miss them. This is a moment I will never forget! Seeing some of my favorite students crying had me tearing up. I tried my best to keep my composure because we still had a lot more time left. Our math teacher was kind enough to let us take a picture with each standard, which we could have never organized on our own! Next, we had a special lunch with the teachers. We all were very nervous for this because it always has been a little risky, but we couldn’t get out of this one! Although, all of our worrying was for nothing because they made some pretty good food, even french fries. At the end of the lunch, the math teacher thanked us for all we have done and we thanked them as well. It meant so much to hear the appreciation of the teachers and this is something I will always remember! It is so wonderful to know when you have really made a difference in someone’s life or in this case in the school. We ended the lunch with all receiving an Assumption t-shirt and card signed by all the staff. I really appreciated the gift and am very thankful to have been given something that can remind us every time I wear it of my perfect month here in Tanzania!

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            Going out on the playground after our lunch and seeing all of our students for the last time was one of the worst goodbyes. I am going to miss my students more than anything and hope one day to see them again. However, having all of them tell me how much they will miss me, that they love me, give me hugs, and how great of a teacher I am will never leave my heart! These students, teachers, and all of the people here in Arusha, Tanzania have left of lasting impression on me that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for everyone making me feel so welcome and for everything they have taught me while I have been here!

Asante Sana Tanzania 

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Lasting Impressions

I think the biggest last impression that I have is that I absolutely love working with students every day! No matter what kind of mood you were in once you walked into the classroom nothing else mattered. The students in Tanzania love to learn and were always ready to soak up as much knowledge that they could. Multiple times they wanted to keep going on with class during tea-time where they could go out and have a break. I will always remember that the students are amazing and how hard working they are. They truly value their education and take on all of the responsibility for their learning.

Another lasting impression is that the people that I have met in Tanzania are unforgettable. Between the warm welcome we get at school each morning, the students running up and hugging you, to the people who say, “Jambo” as we walk around town, the guy who tries to sell us a painting every single day on our walk home from school, and especially the safari drivers. They are probably the nicest people that I have ever met. They are so much fun to be around and they genuinely care about how you are doing and that you are having a good time. I remember when we were at Mama Anna’s and Abdule came over to me and asked me if I was ok because I had been quiet that morning, it was so nice that he was concerned about everyone having a good time. These guys go above and beyond their job requirements for us. Another person who really stood out to me was a guy named Barack who doesn’t even try and sell us stuff but who walks us to the Maasai market and makes sure that the people there are giving us a fair price, giving back correct change and making sure that we know where our friends are at all times. It is amazing to me that he would do this, why does he “waste” his time helping us? It is the true kindness from the people of Tanzania who have made this trip one that will never be forgotten and a lasting impression of the kindness of the people of Tanzania.

A third lasting impression is that we will never know the full culture of Tanzania with out living here for an extended period of time. We were emerged into the culture but we were still kind of in our own little bubble coming back every night to the outpost where we were all together. One important thing to remember is that it is not our responsibly to judge the way of life here in Tanzania. It is our job to learn about it and respect their decisions about their ways of life. When thinking back on our time here in Tanzania this will always be in the back of my mind that it is important to take on a non-judgmental view in almost every aspect of life.

This has been a great experience and I have learned so much about Tanzania, the people, the education system and a way of life that is so different than America. Everything about this trip will be unforgettable.

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Lasting Impressions

I hate that this is the last time I will be writing about my experience from this continent. I hate that this is my last full day on Africa soil. I hate that I have to say goodbye to my sweet kiddos and the teachers tomorrow. I hate that I must pack up all my belongings and leave the Outpost Lodge without a trace of my belongings, without a trace of me even living here for the past month.

After being a resident of Arusha, Tanzania for a little less than 4 weeks, I have learned many, many things. The impressions that this priceless experience has left in my soul will forever be a part of me. I feel as though I have a part of Tanzania in my heart and Tanzania has a piece of my heart here. I will be leaving tomorrow evening to jet set back to American soil but I must remind myself that it is only a “see you later” to Africa. It is only a “baadaye” to all my new friends.

Not only have I been able to watch all 80 of my students grow as learners, but I have also grown through this journey. If anything, I feel as though I have gained much more from my students, teachers and people of Tanzania than the other way around. This trip has solidified my decision to be a teacher and has increased my passion for loving and serving others. My eyes have been opened to a completely new way of life. I have learned and have begun blending into the African culture (although my skin color makes me stick out like a sore thumb). I have learned that education is a privilege in Tanzania and that it is the child’s responsibility to learn the material. If something is not learned or a student doesn’t do well on homework/exams it only reflects the effort that the student put in, not the teacher’s. It amazes me to see the respect that these students have for their teachers and the responsibility that the students have at such a young age. I am impressed every day when I see students taking the public transportation across town to school alone or walking from their villages to school alone. In America, parents actually take their kids to school and some even hold their hand as they walk into their actual classrooms. These children are expected to come home every day wash their school uniforms for tomorrow, complete their homework, do their chores and help get dinner ready for their family. I respect these students for having so many responsibilities at such a young age because responsibility in America is just so overlooked, so unexpected for young students.

There are numerous things back home that I took for granted that an average Tanzania has absolutely no access to here, and I thank God for the things I have been blessed with.

The biggest realization I have had on this trip is just the fact that these Tanzanians and I are not at all that different. The only thing that really separates us is where we were born. I have been asking God a lot lately, “Why did you pick me to be born into a loving family in America when I could have been born in Africa or anywhere else in the world?” To me, it doesn’t seem fair that i have electricity, hot water, a family, a room of my own, an education, money..etc. when others do not. God obviously has created me to glorify Him and created me with an intentional purpose and with beautiful plans to use me. So why do I have all of these things, these opportunities but others halfway across the world don’t have the same? Throughout the past week or so, I have been pondering and thinking about why this is the case. Although I cannot and will not ever be able to fully comprehend God’s thoughts and reasoning, I can make a pretty educated guess that He has given me all these things, resources, money, passion and love for teaching so that I can bless others with these gifts. Even though there is nothing wrong with me enjoying what God blesses me with, I must also bless others with what I know and with what I have. It is so easy to get caught up in collecting clothes, money, cars, movies, music and luxuries back home but God calls us to enjoy what He has given us with thanksgiving and to continue to give, serve and love others. He doesn’t call us to merely keep, collect and save.

The impressions, experiences, silly moments, happy memories I had in Tanzania will continue to pop up in my mind for the rest of my life and I just hope and pray that these these things will stick in my mind forever. I must never forget the love I have for the people of Tanzania and the beauty that this country holds.

Luke 12:32-34, 48: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been please to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no their comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also[…]From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

2 Corinthians 9:11: “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

For now, “Tutaonana Bedaaye.” (see you later!) I’m coming for ya, America!

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