|Playing "in and out the bamboo forest"|
It’s always hard to tell how much progress you have made as a teacher from a given day. These children, especially the children that have been with us for years now have grown so much and are unrecognizable when compared to years ago. But day to day you teach the material, give assessments, sometimes the children do great and other times they don’t. You just kind of hope, pray, do your best and then try harder the next day. As a teacher you do have evidence of learning and success in moments. If you are lucky you see the “light bulb”, a new hand raised high and waving or you witness the children teach each other. Here in Tanzania it is the same as America, but with one exception. You can truly see the evidence of a successful day when you wash your hands and see the red dirt swirl down the drain.
|Mt. Kilimanjaro watching over Francis and Mack|
Since I have been on school grounds I have been very busy with the many needs of the hotel, guests and the school. One of my big goals is to really continue to shape the school's expectations and rules. I can be tough at times when it comes to education and the "kesho/tomorrow" response doesn't work for me, luckily we have an incredible head mistress in Mama Shayo. She has been throwing me into any class she feels needs help and I have had the pleasure of setting a new school rule and expectation. Children are now required to address all teachers, adults and other students in English at all times on school grounds. The only way they can learn is if they are totally immersed in the language and this rule will hopefully make that happen. Of course this is a big change for them, especially since Swahili is their primary language. The greatest evidence of it's success today was when I heard the children commanding each other "speak English!" So now they are jumping rope, playing catch and playing soccer screaming "here" "throw to me" and "kick it" and keeping each other honest about speaking English!
|The boys are showing how excited they are|
All of us at Stella Maris are anxiously awaiting the many amazing guests from St. Joseph so we can show off all our progress and new rule. They are going to be arriving over the next few days, which means a ton of work will be done constructing two entire classrooms as well as visiting with the children over the next two weeks. We are busting at the seams in our school and desperately need two more classrooms now...as well as a lunchroom, headmistress office, storage room and teachers' office, but for now the two classrooms will help greatly. Luckily for us the people of Tanzania are nothing if not resourceful. For all of us here we know there is no better time of year than when St. Joseph comes to visit, help, pray and play with all of our children at Stella Maris!
|Praying before heading home|
Today I feel a little better than most days. We are all so excited to welcome our friends from St. Joseph. We know that in only two weeks they will build classrooms and transform our school. It will also grow closer to the image that everyone at St. Joseph and the Mailisita Foundation envisioned when starting this project. I am also proud knowing today I was able to witness a strong and promising change in our school culture to become a true English Medium School. A school focused entirely on immersing and helping the children learn more English. But as always at the end of the day my favorite moment was still watching all the red dirt and evidence of caring and love wash off my hands and arms from all the children our school helped today.