Sunday, November 14, 2010

Post Shadow Update

Well we just returned from our shadow adventure in Mbeya. It was certainly an adventure and quite the experience!
 The journey began last sunday with our first taste of extended bus travel here in Tanzania. As with all travel on the roads here, I'm once again happy and surprised I'm still alive. The combination of rough underdeveloped roads and the maniacs who drive here makes traveling a terrifying and wild experience. Well, we made it to Tukuyu, which is a small town close to Katie the volunteer we went to visit, around 7 at night, after a good 10 hours on the bus. Then we had to go another half hour or so to get to Katie's school. She teaches at an all girls boarding school, Kayuki Girls School. Katie has a nice little pad with an incredible view of green rolling hills where they grow chai and when it's clear you can make out lake malawi in the distance. She lives on campus, has running water and electricity, which was nice to enjoy for the week. We observed Katie teach some classes, she teaches form 3 math and physics. Katie told her students we would teach them a song, so one afternoon we taught them the chorus to Yellow Submarine and they got a kick out of us trying to sing.
We cooked up a storm the whole week of shadow! At Katies we made pudding, chili, shepard's pie, banana bread, tortillas, mango bread, bean burgers, and guacamole! It was glorious to mix up the menu and learn how to cook/bake. It gives me hope that I won't starve when I get to site.
I mustered up the energy to go running a few times and I still believe there is no better way to explore somewhere new than running around. I even had the company of Orion, Katie's dog, who followed me the whole 7 or 8 miles. It was great to just get out and run somewhere new.
On Thursday we met up with two other volunteers, Andrew, who lives in Tukuyu, and Anita who lives in Mbeya town, along with their shadowers. We went on an awesome hike at the ngozi crater not too far from Tukuyu. It was a great hike, kind of tough in some spots but beautiful!
Friday and Saturday were spent in Mbeya town at Anita's apartment. She teaches at Mbeya Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), a university level school. She's actually at the end of her service and a fellow trainee, TJ will be replacing her. She has a great apartment and was nice enough to let us all pack in before we left to come back to Morogoro.
On Friday and Saturday we got to meet all the other education, health, and environment volunteers in the Mbeya area. Everyone is really nice, we had a great time hanging out at the bars they like to hit up and did a little dancing. We also got to have dinner at a place that has burgers! It was like heaven, I had a fabulous creamy avocado burger! 
I'm running out of time here so I'll wrap this up. We ate really well on the trip and was probably the best part of shadow. I really had a great time and while I am dissapointed that I'm not going to be in Mbeya I'm still excited to make it out to my site. Well we've got another week here in Morogoro before we head to Dar for swearing in so we'll see what happens, should a fun week!   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Know Where I'm Livin for The Next 2 Years!

Yes the day has finally come! They told us today where our sites are, what schools we'll be teaching at, and what we're expected or supposed to teach. They revieled our sites to us in a fun way with a big map of Tanzania and our pictures close to our sites, plus they had a group do some dancing, singing, drumming, and they put on quite the performance. They also gave us apples (which aren't too hard to get, but suprisingly expensive) and glorious cold sodas!  Anyway, it turns out that I'm heading to the Singida Region, which is right in the middle of the country, to the town of Itigi where I'll be teaching at Itigi Secondary School. The info I was given said I would be teaching chemistry and biology but the school really needed a math teacher. So if I can work things out I'd prefer to teach biology and math but we'll see what happens when I get there. I'm pretty happy with my placement, it's going to be quite warm for the most part. From what I hear it's either really hot or really windy and wet. I'm replacing a former volunteer who just left about a week ago and it sounds like I have some pretty big shoes to fill. I'm hoping I'll have his house and he left me some furnishings or something so I'm not starting from scratch when I get out there. Either way it's going to be a great adventure and I'm excited to know where I'm going to be living and working for the next 2 years!

Kesho (tomorrow) we're all going to shadow current PCV's (peace corps volunteers). I'm heading down to the Mbeya region with my fellow trainee, Tim to shadow Katie, a volunteer who teaches math and physics and who we all met our first week in country. It should be a fun trip, we have a full week to see what life is really like at a volunteer's site and what to expect in terms of teaching, taking care of ourselves, cooking, etc. We have a good 12 hour bus ride ahead of us tomorrow so it's going to be kind of a long/hot day on a bus. Hamna shida ( no prpblems) it's all part of the experience.     

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween 2010 = Tanzanian Election Day = No Costume = Jastin is Crying

Yes it is true, tomorrow is the glorious day that is Halloween and I will not be able to follow up with the awesomeness that has been my costumes the past two years (Mariachi and Lady GaGa). Instead it will be the national election day here in Tanzania. With the slight possibility of the current ruling party being defeated we're on standby to see what happens and will not be able to do much celebrating this Halloween. Hamna shida (No problems) all will be fine and for me at least, I will most likely spend the day helping my host family cook, clean, get water, practice my kiswahili, and maybe go watch some soccer with my host baba (father).

Things are starting to move pretty quick these days. This upcoming week will be the end of our brief internship teaching stint, we have our final written kiswahili exam, and will find out where we'll be placed for the next two years! It's kind of crazy that in a few short weeks we'll be back in Dar for swearing in and then it's off to our sites. In two weeks we actually get to go shadow a current PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer). We found out today with whom and where we're going. Turns out I'm off to the southern part of Tanzania in the Mbeya region and will be enjoying a luxurious 12-15 hour bus ride down there, it's gonna be a fun trip.

Well once again I've run out of time here at the internet cafe and will have to call it quits for this post. Hopefully next time I'll be able to put up some pictures and continue with my awesome commentary on Tanzania and my life there in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

35 minutes of internet left to post

Habarini Rafiki Zangu, (Hello my Friends)

Alright let's see if I can fill everyone in on all the happenings of the past few weeks in the 35 minutes I have left here at the internet cafe in Morogoro.

Well let me start off by letting you know that we've reached the midway point of our training. It's gone by quite fast and not without many ups and downs along the way. We've taken our midterm oral and written exam. Of course I passed with flying colors on both and am obviously awesome and arrogant beyond belief. (This is a bit of the American sarcasm Tanzanians don't understand and I miss using oh so much!)

We've began our internship teaching at the schools were we've been learning kiswahili and observing how the Tanzanian school system functions. After the few lessons I've taught I immediately respect my high school teachers so much more than I ever did before. Teaching is not easy and it doesn't help matters when your students don't really understand english since this is their first year being taught in english! Have no fear though I will persevere and in due time I will emerge from the ash as a furious phoenix and teach like no one has ever taught before! Or more than likely, I think I'll become a descent teacher, it's just going to take time. Plus I've got two years to get my act together, so like my kiswahili polepole (slowly) is the pace. 

This past weekend we went on safari! There's a national park a little over an hour away from Morogoro called Mikumi National Park and we had a great time and snapped some killer photos. We spent two days in the park and stayed in some hotels just outside of Mikumi. The first day we showed up in the afternoon and were lucky enough to see some lions muching away on an impala carcus near the water hole where the hippo was chillin. We saw a good deal of zebras, water buffalo, elephants, a few monkeys, and giraffes. It was really a fun trip. Of course in the evening before the second day at the park some people decided to have a few drinks and get a little crazy. But certainly not me, I don't drink or live by the motto "Just because you're smart doesn't mean you can't act stupid". (Alright my last little quip of american sarcasm for my own benefit)

Those are the few major happenings and shenanaigans that have gone down these past few weeks. But I still have 10 minutes so I'll break down a typical day in the life of JQ-Money here in Tanzania. First, I usually wake up around 5 or 5:30, that's when my host mama and sisters wake up to start sweeping and continue with the never ending battle against the wind and dust. I don't actually get up until around 6:30 and take a nice cold bucket shower in the (choo) shower/toilet. I enjoy some awkward silence with my host father at the table, after we've exhausted my limited swahili, and enjoy some instant coffee with either a hard boiled egg, some rice and beans from the past evening, or maybe some bread. Then I wait for my fellow trainee Paul and we walk to school. We learn kiswahili for most of the day or now it's mixed with our internship teaching. We go to lunch at a house not too far from school and enjoy some rice, beans and spinach but sometimes they mix it up and we get spinach, beans and rice. I'm just kidding, sort of.
I'll fill you all in with the rest next time. Take it easy!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Habari Za Jastin (News of Justin) Part II

I had to switch computers there and make this a 2 parter. Anyway, like I said the food has been great, the people are very friendly, and kiswahili isn't too tough of a language to learn.
On the other hand, it has been a rough transition in other ways, I'm not gonna say it's been completely easy and there hasn't been some days where I wake up and realize where I am and what I'm doing. You try to prepare as much as you can for life in another country, but until you get there you just have no idea. You think you know, but you don't know! It's all part of the deal though. I just keep reminding myself that this is what I wanted, a challenge and an opportunity. It's all good!
Well my time is almost up but I'll try to keep anybody interested up to date as much as possible!
I hope all is well back in the states!   

Habari Za Jastin (News of Justin)

Hello Friends and Family I have neglected to e-mail or call, or new friends, or random blog readers! I decided that creating a blog would be a much better way to keep in touch, as opposed to mass e-mails.
We've been in Tanzania for 3 weeks now and have been living in Morogoro region for the past 2 weeks. I'm living with a host family near the school where we are learning kiswahili and preparing to teach. My host family is awesome! I have 3 dada (sisters) - Elizabeth (20), Venancia (12) and Prisa (5), my host mama Jenifa and host baba (father) Peter. They couldn't have been more welcoming and treat me like I am truly a part of the family. We don't have running water or electricity -except when my host baba is home and we turn on the generator for some lights and the t.v. I've tried to help getting maji (water) but they have only let me go once, they really treat me like a prince. They did help teach me how to wash my clothes by hand but after the first time they have been just washing my clothes for me.
The food is so much better than I originally expected! I new I was in for a good deal of wali (rice) and marahage (beans), which I was looking forward to since I love rice and beans. But we've been eating such great vegetable dishes, fresh fish, great chicken and beef, and great fruit!