In omnia paratus

Why hello!

Since it has been so long since I last posted I don’t know where to begin.  I am going to start with bullets as they help me organize the chaos in my mind.

–August:  I had the entire month of August off!  I had my close of service conference and travelled around a bit.  Normally, schools in TZ have the month of June off, but this year’s schedule is off due to a national census that occurred at the end of August (they wanted the students to be home so that they could be counted) so June we were in school, August we were free.

August also marked my replacement volunteer’s swearing-in and start of service, which means I currently have a roommate!  Other than the fact that living by myself in a foreign land for two years has caused me to procure some rather interesting peculiarities (ie. the amount that I talk to myself and my dog, showering in the courtyard, the large amounts of lists that I make on a daily basis) having a roommate is great.  I think that I talked her (Emily’s) ear off, as I was a little deprived of companionship, but now we have a nice routine going.  It is much easier to make food for two people.

We have recently finished organizing the lab, and I have included pictures.  It was a big project, but in just two weeks my students will do their first ever actual practical on the national examination!  This, and the solar could not have been accomplished without your help and support so, once again, thank you!

My bullets that I started this post with did not hold up too well….

It is graduation season!  I have been to so many 8 hour long parties full of Tanzanian dance and speeches in the last few weeks.  Not necessarily the most entertaining thing to do, but tomorrow marks the graduation of my Form IV students, who hold a special place in my heart, so I am actually quite excited for tomorrow’s festivities.  In fact, as I type this, there are about 5 boys shaking their money makers to Rihanna in preparation for their dance routine they are going to perform tomorrow in front of everyone.  I can’t wait.

Talk to you soon.Image

There is no better feeling than arriving at an oasis after an arduous journey.



Jumping for joy!

Coming full circle

Sorry to all of you who keep up with my blog for the lags in post (all 2 of you still reading, that is). My only excuse for my lack of posting can be summed up in one Kiswahili word: nimezoea (by English: I have become accustomed). All the things I used to think were so strange (by my American standards) have become the norm. When I first arrived in country, things like marriage proposals, pooping myself, strange foods, carrying water, shady buses filled to the brim with way too many people, etc. all seemed unbelievable to me, definitely things to write home about. Now, you could hand me a chicken or baby on a bus, whip out your nipple in front of me to breast feed your child, hold my hand while walking with me, ask me for my hand in marriage, yell at me, point at me, stare at me and you won’t even get a flinch. Sometimes it scares me just how accustomed to things I’ve become.

The past month I have watched most people who live around me leave. I have been to countless going away parties. Iringa (my banking town) was a social hub filled with volunteers who extended their service, RPCVs, and ex-pats. None of these people lead a very permanent lifestyle, and they have all recently all left. This, and the class (PC is very high school-ish, we are divided into the group, or class, of people we came here with) ahead of mine going home has made me slightly homesick. We’ve still got Glenn, Geneva and myself holding down the Iringa fort and our replacements coming TODAY, so not all is lost. Based on the Peace Corps as high school model, I have officially become a senior

I have a little over 3 months remaining, which isn’t the shortest amount of time, but compared to the 27 months I signed on for means I only have 11% of my service remaining. Which means I have completed 89% of my service, which IS a big number (I know, good math there).

One day I am going to write a reflective blog post on my time here/what I’ve learned. Because I am struggling so much to think of things to write about today, here’s a video brought to you by the Iringa crew while we were getting ready for the new volunteers’ arrival.

Solar=Installed! My headmaster and I travelled to Mbeya (the closest, biggest city to me) 2 weeks ago to get the materials. The first stop was the bank. All the money that was donated by you, lovely folks, was deposited in my bank account. The ATM has a limit on how much money I am allowed to take out, so I had to wait in a very long line for a very long time (as a side note, coming soon: ‘waiting in Africa’). When I finally was given the money, it turned out to be about 6 million shillings. Now, Tanzanian money is colorful and looks like monopoly money and their biggest bills are 10,000-shilling notes. I hadn’t really thought about it too much, and had just planned to put all of the money in my brassiere bank (where I put everything to avoid being robbed) but 600 is a large number of bills to fit in that area. So, I crammed it all in my backpack as discretely as a white girl in Africa can cram giant bunches of colorful monopoly money into a bag, and headed out.

We went to the solar shop and within an hour had everything we needed. The installer was going to come in a few days with all the small equipment, and we returned with the panels, batteries, and invertor. It was a long trip back with so much stuff, but we made it, the solar technician finished the installation, and we now have so much electricity it is coming out of our ears! Thank you all again! With the remaining money, we are going to finish the laboratory. Updates on that are coming.

My students just had their pre-mock, mock exams (like the pre-pre- actual national examination) and they did the actual practical for the first time ever! It went really well, all in all. I was a basket case during this week trying to get everything prepared, but it all came together in the end.

In other news, I ran a half-marathon last weekend in Iringa. I ran the Colorado half right before I came here, with no training, and it was painful but not too too bad. Maybe this one was so awful because I have done no physical activity whatsoever in approximately two years, or because they didn’t start it until around 10am so we were running under a scorching African sun, or because they made us run down the hill that Iringa is built on and then right back up it, or because it is just fresher in my mind, but, all in all, not some of my finest hours. Maybe next time I’ll run a bit beforehand…

This whole week I haven’t really had anything to do because all of my students were sent home to gather food contributions. They returned today with no food, so they were sent home again, naturally. Maybe I’ll get one period in tomorrow? A girl can hope. I have been spending this idle time developing the solar club that I am planning on starting next week. Since we just got solar, it seemed like an appropriate time to teach about how it works. With the club, we are going to explore the physics behind solar and then build a solar lamp.

The volunteer who is replacing me arrives in country today. Only five more months left. I can’t decide if this thought makes me want to jump for joy or cry. Probably a little of both, such is the roller coaster of my life.

Solar Solar!

Guess what?!  I am sitting in my library charging things RIGHT NOW.  WITH SOLARRRRRR!!

I am going to write an actual blog post about this one day (soon) when I am less exhausted.  Until then, Happy memorial day from across the pond!

Madibira: A Tourist's Bypass, A Traveler's Paradise.

Guess what?!  Chicken butt.

It was recently May first!  May first in Tanzania is Labor Day.  There were a bunch of festivities including a 100-meter dash, tug-a-war, chicken catch, soccer game, netball game, etc.   I was really excited about the chicken catch.  You chase a chicken around a big field and whoever catches it first gets to eat it.  I gave my team (Cece and Alex) a pep talk before we started.  I had talked a lot of smack around the village before I started the chicken catch, and already had invited a bunch of people over to eat the chicken, which I was convinced we were going to catch.  Long story short, we got as far as seeing the chicken’s butt running away from us.  Even with my “dive at all costs” pep talk.  We were one up’d by a lady who must have been eavesdropping on the pep talk because she threw caution into the wind and dove head first into the tall, thorny grass which harbored all sorts of insects, spiders and who knows what else.  I am going to practice my chicken catchin’ /divin’ abilities so I can get more than a view of the chicken’s butt next time.

Chicken winner

Alex won the 100-meter dash and his team won the tug-a-war, making him a local hero in Madibira.  Cece and I also partook in tug-a-war; it ended up just being more of a one-way tug.  Our team didn’t give them much of a war.  Tug-a-war is one of those unassuming sports, which doesn’t seem that physically challenging but then the next day you end up being sore.  Like bowling.

Wazungu vs. Everyone Else

My school is celebrating because recently our Form VI (A-level) results came in and we got first in the whole region and 11th in the whole country.  Not a single student failed!  Which never happens.  Our A-level is really new.  It just started up in 2010.  It is only liberal arts studies at the moment, which is really competitive so this accomplishment from a little village school is amazing.  Even though I don’t teach A-level, I feel such a sense of pride for the students, teachers and school!  Now we just have to work on building our O-level up.

I want to take this moment to tell you about my mkuu (headmaster).  This seems like an appropriate time to talk about him because I believe a big part of the school’s recent success is due to him.  He is the best.  He is charismatic, helpful, knowledgeable, kind, a hard worker, etc.  He is one of the finest people I think I have ever met.  He is one of those people who you have instant respect for.  He is welcoming to anyone and everyone who comes to visit his school and he takes pride in his “middle of nowhere” village school whose recent exam performance has started even making Tanzanians ask, “where is this Madibira?!”   It’s here and it’s a force to be reckoned with.  You’ll see.

The man, the myth, the legend