The sunlit room full of primary school students hushed quiet as Neema presented us with a finely written letter of thanks on behalf of the school for our gift of new chalkboards.
Their song and dance celebration of thanks continued on even after the electricity went out and the speaker system went silent. Their excitement to pay us back in thanks continues to be palpable. Johanna and I also want to extend and share that thanks to everyone who supported the Chalkboard Project financially from afar: Johanna’s parents, grandparents, sister, aunt & uncle, my dear friend Jessie, and my grandfather Jim. Thank you from a little school in Arusha, Tanzania!
This was the first week of the new school year. The students have all moved up in class and Sule, our Teaching Director, has labored tediously to complete the timetables for each subject and teacher and class. Not an easy task when there are still teaching positions to fill and new curriculum requirements are imposed last minute by the government.
Johanna and I enjoyed being back at school each day this week, even though our expectations to get started teaching were not met. We have become accustomed to the unknown here in Tanzania. Finding out that this is a week of half days, there are still no timetables for classes yet, and Thursday is a holiday without classes all came as no real surprise to us. So we spent the mornings sitting around in the classrooms with the rowdy students trying to figure out how to pass the time. Sometimes reading, sometimes coloring, and sometimes just watching the kids wreak havoc around the rooms.
I look forward to meeting my full classes on Monday and starting in on a First Aid curriculum I’ve put together from an online foundation.
Work in the V4Y office has continued on as usual: vague and figure-it-out-as-you-go. I’ve made a self imposed goal to have all the topics for our BCC/Jitambue workshops updated and organized in view-only powerpoint presentations. The Behavior Change Communication (BCC)/Jitambue project provides Friday workshops to schools around Arusha. Volunteers and staff present on various topics from reproductive health to setting goals, and all too often the presentation information is thrown together last minute and drawn from out of date and disjointed past presentations. I hope to provide V4Y with a set of presentations on about thirty topics that are workshop ready with updated and clear information. Thus paving the way for future volunteers and V4Y staff to draw from this material and get creative with each workshop opportunity.
As January gets underway with no hesitancy, I take note that this year is going to pick up speed, piling on new experiences with each month. I am trying to hold onto the contemplative purpose-driven days I cultivated over the holidays. I anticipate this will become more and more difficult.