Study Abroad

Professor's Blog

May 27, 2017

At 5:30 this morning most of us met to zip line across the river and hike up a small hill to watch the sunrise over the Eastern African plain ( a few chose to sleep in!).

As I write this all of our female students are holding a girl's self-esteem workshop for the sixth and seventh grade girls at the Lundamatwe elementary school - they will have to tell you about that, but it has long been a goal of ours to hold such a workshop each year here. Several female members of the families who are connected to the Masumbo Lodge are helping us (for clear translation), and when I dropped the women off this morning at the school hundreds of students had come back to say "goodbye" again.

I say "again" because yesterday was an emotional day for all of us. After just eight teaching days, almost every Tanzanian student is more comfortable speaking English, reading in English, and discussing the content of the books we have shared. And the Lasell students, many of whom thought that they might not "be able to do this", learned that they could, in fact, do this. Almost all of the Lasell students worried, during our first teaching reflection, that they would have trouble remembering the student's names, much less whether they would actually teach anything.

But today most of them received notes, and warm hugs (another unusual thing for Tanzanian culture), and there were lots of tears all around at the end of the day. Each of our students (Lasell) has been fully engaged with about 32 Tanzanian children, who were entranced by the small group, active learning approach. One of the teachers told me, "this method you are using, of students in small groups, is something that we were told about in Teachers' College!" which I took as my cue to suggest that he might try using his "more clever" students to lead small group exercises, since he does not have 16 students at his disposal the way that I do. His eyes got quite wide! He was also impressed with the variety of simple activities that we introduced - so we will see, if we are able to return next year, if any of the Tanzanian teachers adopt some of what we are trying to model.

Before I close, let me remind you that we may be slightly out of touch the next few days, as we enjoy a safari in the Ruaha National Park. I will post more on Tuesday, if not before. We will write several more blogs this weekend, but they may not get put up at Lasell until Monday.

So picture this: the eighteen of us, facing the entire school, as they serenaded us with the Tanzanian national anthem.

When they finished, we were surrounded by the students, hugging us, teary-eyed themselves, holding hands, etc. The Headmaster came over to me, and took my hand, saying "Asante sana" (thank you very much) again. He was thanking us for our gifts, but also for our time with the students. I pointed at all the students, hugging and crying, and I said something about how remarkable it was that they could develop such a good relationship in such a short amount of time. He smiled at me, and replied, "It is because you have showed them love." Then he paused, with perhaps a small tear in his eye, and said again, "It is because you have shown them love."

Asante sana,

Tom S.