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Planting Pumpkin Seeds
Day 8 Friday 28th February
Day 7 Thursday 27th February
Today's programme consisted of recovering from the trip to Moshi and planning Friday's celebration. The day started by a cooler morning (which means around 25 C and all the children wearing their jumpers, woolly hats and some of them long sleeve shirts underneath their school uniform). Mrs Simm and I just laughed, as we were too warm from the morning.
One thing we realised as the week had gone is that there are 2 times here in Tanzania, that the people use. They call them “African time” and “English time ”, so if you agree on a meeting with someone and say you'll see them in 15 minutes, you have to specify if it is African time (so 2 hours) or English time (15 minutes).
The children practised their presentation of our Living as One project ( a little drama about gender equality, sharing their carving of pumpkins and baking pumpkin cake and soup and singing songs taught by Mrs Simm. (In the process, I managed to get slightly sunburnt too, which was, let's be honest, inevitable). We were really surprised how well the children, even in preschool , wait their turn. Mrs Simm made headbands for the 45 children in preschool,
(equivalent to Reception) for the celebration. She was touched by how appreciative and keen the children were to look at some books she had brought for them, ( once she had convinced them it was ok to look at them whilst they were waiting for others to finish) . They don’t have many books to read for pleasure as most books are text books and they usually just sit patiently whilst everyone else finishes.
Another thing that we were taken aback by was how the children treasure any little scrap piece of paper or cut off; we asked Rachel about it and she said the teachers have to lock away the books and check the number of pages every so often because the pupils cut pages out to write on.
The afternoon was very busy as we went to do home visits, visiting the children who are being sponsored by people from Cronton. We walked through maize fields, beautiful swamp with pristine water and water lilies and under banana trees. It made us realise the effort the children and parents make to come to school, some of them (only 3 years old) walking for at least 30 minutes.
The visits were touching and hard at the same time ; gratefulness of the parents whose children are sponsored and the humility and hospitality of those with so little. Only a few houses have electricity and running water and some of them were built from wooden planks and a sheet of metal for roof. It was wonderful to see how much difference can we make through Arise and we both felt deeply moved by it.
After coming back, we had a meeting and arranged agenda for the celebration. Rachel and Salome established how much drinks, nuts and biscuits for the children participating we will need, so we got a tuk tuk to Sanya Juu for all the food.
When we came back, we all had dinner with Ombaeli, Anna, Rachel and Jovi. It is important to mention here that Tanzanians have a shower before food ; it is to wash away all the sweat and dust of the day and sit down for a meal clean and refreshed. We found this absolutely necessary because our feet every night were pretty much all covered with dirt.
After the dinner, it was just us girls, so I took up Rachel's offer, sat on the floor between her knees and got my hair braided.
Celebration day tomorrow. It's 10 am start, but we are pretty sure that is Tanzanian time, so who knows, what will happen!
Day 6 Wednesday 26th February
This morning, we had some fried bananas for breakfast and peanuts and once again ran outside to take photos of Mount Kilimanjaro. Last night, Miss Rogers got her first mosquito bite, but she made sure the mosquito wouldn't come back for more (or her shoe did).
We have been staying with Anna,who is the deputy had at Arise and her son Jovi, who is in Grade 3 and is very keen every evening to browse photos on our ipads, phones and games and apps we have on there too! As it was Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day yesterday, we decided to make pancakes for Anna and let her rest instead of cooking for once! She is a natural when it comes to flipping pancakes! Instead of lemon, we used fresh oranges!
After morning worship, we have joined the A B C, middle unit and preschool unit (EYFS) and watched them perform some of the song Mrs Simm taught them. I had to laugh; the children are the same everywhere, there's always a few not listening, teasing each other or pushing. And all of them interested in me, as I was a new face (I have spent my days with grade 3, 5 and 6).
Later,we met with the School Council. It is fantastic to see how democracy works the same in Tanzania and the UK, and we read a book Only One You, which links to our project of Gender Equality. After discussing what makes us the same and different and how we are all unique, we all joined to transform a white wall in the shelter area, near to the new kitchen and paint fish and some of the quotes from the book. Even Mr Ombaeli, Alex (local artist who had been decorating arise with his beautiful drawings) and Rachel joined in!
I have become known as Madame Churro (frog) because that's one of the few Swahili words I've learned and kept entertaining local resident by saying “Jina langui ni churo” (my name is frog). Alex painted a beautiful picture of a frog for me and now every time anyone looks at it, they'll remember me!
After lunch, which consisted of rice and choroko, Sarah, me and Rachel set off in a tuc tuc to Sanya Juu and then, among all the chickens (dead and alive), beans, maize and the Wednesday market havoc, we transferred into a dala dala.
Dala dala is basically a people carrier, 7 seater, which serves as a local bus. It does not leave on time but only leaves when it is full. Full meaning 4 people in the back row, 4 people in the middle row, three at the front (despite their only being 2 seats).
Even trying to take pictures proved difficult as our mobility was highly restricted by the surrounding bodies.
After sweating, stopping on the way to let people get off and nearly running over numerous people, chickens and tuk tuks, we finally, 45 minutes later, arrived to Moshi.
Wow, what a place! Swarmed with people making and selling shoes, fruit, corns on the cob and watches, who also, as soon as they spot a tourist, flock around you and try to guide you to their shop.
Thankfully, we had Rachel with us, who could negotiate with the most persistent salesmen and together, we found a shop recommended by Ron and Sue, which has fixed prices. We bought some souvenirs to remember this amazing week and chatted to the owner, whose parents came over from India in 1928 and who had met all 3 Tanzanian presidents and received an award (similar to MBE) for his work for handicapped people and contribution to the economy. Also, his daughter lives in Leicester!
Before heading back home, we got some food shopping done (mangos, milk and the biggest pineapple we have ever seen) and then we had a quick drink of coke from a very tall bottle at a local hotel. We decided we wanted to take bajaji (tuk tuk) back home. However, after talking to Anna on the phone, it was established that travelling on 3 wheels for almost an hour while it is dark on a very bumpy road might not be the safest option and therefore decided to take the dala dala but we paid the driver as if he had his car full, therefore it was just the 4 of us. Much more comfortable.
I managed to take some beautiful pictures of Arusha in the evening sun and also practised my swahili with the driver (to his amusement). We got back to Arise in the dark and walked back to Anna's. Then quickly wash our super dusty feet (I was so glad I left my white trainers at home) and bed time!
Day 5 Tuesday 25th February 2020
Today's morning welcomed us with a clear view of the Mount Kilimanjaro and its snow -covered tip.
We finally managed to get on the wifi, so I'll try and record our days digitally.
About educational system here : Arise school is preparing the children really well for high school as they teach in English and expect the children to communicate in English, because high school is taught all in English. Despite this, many primary schools continue to teach in Swahili, so once the children go to a high school, there's a gap that needs to be bridged and they sometimes struggle with their learning because of the language barrier.
The children here are extremely well behaved (there is around 40 in each class) and very appreciative of their teachers ; they show their respect by standing up when answering a question and there are no team points, dojos or rewards - the knowledge itself is rewarding enough for them and they're grateful they can get a high quality education.
Teachers here use textbooks from which they copy notes and exercises on the board, and each day starts with a teachers joined worship by singing songs, reading the Bible and discussing the meaning. This is done in Swahili, but the teachers here are so welcoming they translate it into English for us.
During the lessons, a lot of chanting and singing takes place, all done a cappella . Both Mrs Simm and I cannot get over the pupils’ confidence and beautiful voices. This morning, the year 5 class welcomed me by singing Tanzania, Tanzania, a Tanzanian patriotic song!
The children say grace before their morning porridge which the teachers serve in mugs and the children drink in their in their classroom. They also eat their lunch in their classrooms but Arise are currently fund raising to so they can build a dining hall.
After our break, which consists of ‘scones’ (buns) and hot tea with hot milk, we went to grade 6 to give them the letters our children in Year 5 wrote and share with them our way of formatting letters. Using the templates I brought with us from the UK, the children wrote their replies and drew pictures. From the pictures, it is obvious the pupils here in Arise love the Avengers and superheroes as much as our children!
Apart from our teaching and learning experiences, we are everyday in awe of the nature, beautiful weather and people's hospitality!
This afternoon, we will catch up on our work and documenting of our project. We had to move some of the projects around slightly, so if possible, we might do home visits to the children who are being sponsored by some of the teachers and friends of Cronton.
Tanzania day 4 Monday
Tanzania Day 3 Sunday
Tanzania Day 2 Saturday
Tanzania day 1 Friday
Our preparation for Miss Rogers and Mrs Simm going to Tanzania's Arise School continues and Year 5 have looked at some of the research of famous anthropologists and case studies of Chambri people, Awa tribes and macaque monkeys. Then, in groups, the presented their research and analysis of the studies and shared it with the other groups. It was interesting to evaluate what influences the way we perceive gender roles and what influences the gender roles in our families. The children finally reflected on their own experience in their Connecting Classrooms journals.
Today, the children in Year 5 looked at what 'gender' means and when they came across the word. We discussed that gender is not just if you are a man or a woman, but also what social traditions, expectations and assumptions are linked to being a man or a woman.
Discussing in mixed groups, the pupils were put in front of a seemingly easy task; to sort out adjectives, careers, chores at home and childcare tasks into a Venn diagram, depending on whether they associate these with men, women or both.
It was amazing to watch the children draw on their experience and what part the background they are from has on their opinions and decisions. Furthermore, they were able to recognise that different people associate different things with being a man or a woman, and that that's OK. A discussion, which was supposed to last 10 minutes, lasted almost 40 minutes and even when working independently in their Project Books, the children could not help but discuss this topic further.
I cannot wait to go to Arise and ask the pupils their opinions and then report back on this to my Year 5!
'Excited' does not capture well enough how we feel! Now the flight tickets have been bought and visas received, planning and delivering lessons ongoing in both Cronton and Arise schools in preparation for the upcoming trip to Tanzania at the end of February.
This week, the children in Year 5 will begin to explore the topic Gender Equality and will start having discussion and work on the project. Meanwhile, Arise staff had been teaching 'Zero Hunger' and 'Gender Equality' focused lessons.
We cannot wait to go to Tanzania and see the fantastic work the children their produced while sharing our work with them!
Wow! Only a week ago we found out we received funding for our 'Connecting Classrooms' Project, and so much work and learning has already been done in preparation for February visit to Arise! Sue and Ron from ACE kindly shared photos and video with us of the children planting pumpkins, which will be ready for Harvest in...February! Mrs Simm and I should brush up on our cooking skills and find some well-tested recipes for pumpkin soups, cakes and pies! If you have any, send them to school!
New logo revealed!
Focusing on two Sustainable Development Goals (Zero Hunger and Gender Equality), we have created a name and a logo for our partnership with Arise School. It celebrated diversity, cooperation and unity and will become a symbol of this amazing project.