7/2/10

Habari!! Greetings from some of our Pioneer Volunteers in Tanzania!

This June, WorldTeach sent its first ever group of volunteers to teach in partnership with the Ministry of Education in Tanzania. Being part of an inaugural group brings an added element of excitement for the volunteers (and for the staff here in the office!) in addition to the usual excitement and anticipation they experience during the one-month in-country orientation process. Below are some excerpts from our volunteers' reflections upon arrival from intrepid WorldTeach volunteers Megan Randall and Matthew Mills.

"So I finally made it to Tanzania yesterday! Not only did I arrive in one piece, but I arrived completely happy and ready for this big adventure to start! I was so excited to land finally - the plane trip over was nearly 24 hours long so it was nice to get out and stretch my legs once we got here. I say "we" because I am accompanied by 7 others in the WorldTeach program who will be teaching here also. Since we got here last night, we've had some stellar home cooked meals at a hostel that we're staying at in Mikocheni (right on the coast in Dar es Salaam), we've been to the beach once, rested a little, been stuck in traffic for about 2 hours trying to go only 15 miles, set up functioning cell phones (I'll hand my number out soon), been to the shops at a couple of malls, taken a walk through town, been to some orientation info sessions, and have learned a lot already! I'm about to eat dinner here and then watch the World Cup match between Ghana and the USA. Although I do love you, USA, I'm an African resident now for the year, so I'm rooting for Ghana to take the win - Africa needs to kick our butt to keep their hopes up in this thing! Toodles for now, the chakula (food) is ready." -Megan

This is from our hotel in Dar.  There is a terrace up on the roof, with a smaller terrace above that provides a spectacular view of the city.  Many of our orientation classes are held on the terrace as well, so not a bad place to learn some Kiswahili and teaching techniques! [photo courtesy of Matthew Mills]

"Habari!! As you might be able to tell from that common Swahili greeting, today we started learning a bit of Kiswahili.  Mostly we learned greetings, which apparently are very very important and essential to know, and can get you a long way in Tanzania.  There are many greetings for different times of the day, general greetings, and greetings that are more age appropriate.  For example, a common greeting to say to a young person would be “Mambo!” to which the response would be “Poa” or “Safi” meaning “cool.”  A common respectful greeting for an elder would be “Shikamoo,” to which the response would be “Marahaba.”  Apparently, this will be a common greeting from my students.

Already I can tell how important the language training will be, because once you get out into the streets amongst the Tanzanian people, just  knowing even the common greetings puts you more at ease and you start to feel less like an outsider.  I can certainly see how simple greetings and respect will get you far here.

Besides beginning our formal teaching and language training, we’ve already spent a bit of time out and about in Dar es Salaam.  Yesterday we traveled into the city center, where we saw the main marketplace (Kariakoo) that housed many local merchants selling goods, the fish market by the shore, and many of the government and commercial buildings throughout the city.  It was a bit hot, but a gorgeous day to explore Dar.  Also, since it was a Sunday and most of the shops and businesses were closed, it was a nice, quiet day to see the city without being overwhelmed.

Our other experiences in Tanzania so far have been pretty low key, as we’re just slowly settling in.  Some nights we’ve been able to get out and check out a local restaurant or bar.  It’s been great to get to know my fellow volunteers and share many of the expectations we all have for the next year.  In a new culture it’s nice to have a good support system as you face many of the same challenges adjusting.

For now, tutaonana!  Usiko mwema! (Goodbye!  Have a good night!)" -Matt

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