Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Catapults with 1st/2nd Grade

More creative uses of things we have for crafts here in Tanzania! The kids loved this one, though I had to keep telling them they were finger catapults because they were putting their full weight on them and snapping the springs out of the clothespins. Ah good times, trying to change the behavior of 6 and 7 year olds! Anyway, once they got that memo, it was much better. We found some little seeds outside and catapulted the class time away. 
Decorating the pieces - popsicle sticks, blocks of wood, clothespins, bottle caps

Finished products, hot glued together! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Dust!

The dry season has been upon us for a few months now, and we are FINALLY starting to get some rain around here. Without the rain, every minute of every day involves dust! The dirt roads are at their driest, and we pretty much breathe dust as we drive, as we walk, as we teach. I won’t even talk about my feet at the end of the day. Let’s just say I understand the sacrifice of Jesus washing his disciples' feet a lot better. Anyway, my poor little white laptop has been under a dust attack.  It reminds me of being in college, and seeing the art majors doggedly scrub their white laptops to keep them free of paint, clay, charcoal, etc. It was always a losing battle.

It's the little things in life - I know this because when I got a magic eraser in a package from my parents, the first thing I wanted to do was clean my computer. And then I took pictures. So yeah, I'm easily entertained these days.  But LOOK!!!  Though this may only last a couple weeks before my laptop is disgusting again, I'm happy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weaving with 1st / 2nd Grade

Doing crafts with this age group has been a fun challenge for me.  Fun because I enjoy the age group’s enthusiasm and a challenge because I have to get creative with my activities because of our limited resources. A lot of what we’ve done so far has been using recyclables. Last week, I had the school guard make us a hula hoop out of plastic pipe (he melted the edges together) and with about a dozen old t-shirts, we went to work weaving a masterpiece. We used this tutorial here.

The t-shirts are from the Moshi used clothing market called Memoria, and I got the bundle of them for 6000 shillings ($4). Miss Holly (see her blog here) and I spent an evening slicing them up while watching a movie, and voila! We were ready to go. The kids were quick learners with the ‘over-under’ pattern, and they were even patient taking turns weaving.

Ok, by patient I mean they found other ways to entertain themselves...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I am proud to announce I have nearly conquered my phobia of using chalk and my chalkboard! Ugh all that dust and the dreadful feel of the chalk, I’m shuddering as I write. Oh and the shrieks of the chalk on the board, Lord have mercy. Alright enough with the drama, I knew I would have a chalkboard before I came to teach here, so I really can’t complain. But my kind mother had compassion on me and bought me a lifesaving chalk holder.  So I have been using my chalk holder constantly – and taking baby steps toward chalk independence by trying it without the holder once in a while. And hey, it’s not actually that bad! Granted, I’ve been washing my hands of the dust about 5 times in a day, but like I said, baby steps. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Big Decision

February. I've known for a while that the end of February marked a major decision for us teachers here in Moshi - to stay or go?  We are six months into our ten-month commitment at Hope International School (hey - new website here!), and already, the option of another school year is on the table.

I really love Tanzania - it's a beautiful country, and I've grown used to the amazing scenery in my everyday life. Kilimanjaro sits outside my bedroom window, and I get excited on the days when we can see this "shy" mountain come out of the clouds. The people of this country are also incredible. They deal with hardship every day with poise and courage, and I've learned a lot from them. They are joyful - the village churches give the phrase "the joy of the Lord" a new vigor in their worship.  And they are so creative with what they have. I so admire the genius ways they make life work for them. We have a hose at home, but not a sprinkler for the garden, so our guard punched holes in an old plastic water bottle and just attached that to the hose. Why didn't I think of that?!?  What they don't have here, they make up for with their determination and creativity.  The kids at the school are the same way. They have a passion to learn. The local kids love it and the fun atmosphere we cultivate here. One of my students was delighted when she got to have math manipulatives at her desk to help her visualize the work. She told me she used to secretly bring a bag of bottlecaps to her old school and use them on her lap to help her understand. I love that tenacity.  

Two months ago, staying in Tanzania would have been unfathomable to me. It was Christmas, and I was homesick and missing all the American conveniences you could imagine.  I told myself I would just get through the next six months and bid Tanzania farewell. To say God that has done some moving to change my mind is a huge understatement! Last week, I just knew that I wanted to stay here and I had peace about that choice.  It blindsided me! I hadn't even really thought about staying, and here I was, throwing caution to the wind and choosing to live in Africa until June 2014. The realization was that I have more work I want to do here, and I'm not ready to come back to Orange County and settle into a new position there. I am glad to do that eventually, but there's no rush.  This season in my life is an adventure that I am really loving, with ALL its ups and downs and pros and cons.  No place is perfect, but for now, I think I am where God wants me to be.