Fern in Tanzania
This week has been a hot one, however the rains have begun and slowly, slowly things are turning into a more greenish hue which makes a nice change from the constant dust. The rains here are interesting, it never seems to drizzle or just rain normally but instead with such a force that the outside world floods, you can't hear anyone speak and the thought of going everywhere quickly leaves your mind. Then it will stop as quickly as it starts, it gets very warm, the ground slowly looses its muddiness (I have fallen over already- I am sure I will be a mass of bruises by Christmas). It smells very different after rain here too. In Scotland there is a very distinct smell before and after, here it smells a lot sweeter. A bit like cooked pink bananas. It gets really humid very quickly too. However, the students at school are super happy about it and everything and everybody is starting to look healthier. It also is now even more acceptable to take on the British stereotype of asking about or discussing the weather! I also feel extremely more at home retuning to my native raincoat and wellies- which is probably the more realistic national dress! In school this week life has settled down into more of a normality than the last few weeks have been. The change in staff that was disruptive at first is slowly being overcome and people are getting used to it. I am getting used to my new roles and am slowly building a routine that means I get everything done as far in advance as possible. Now, I work from home on Wednesdays. This has made such a difference as it has meant I can catch up with all the things that I don't get done at school. The problem with having work that is not in a classroom (photography, research etc.) is that you get asked to cover classes or supervise exams and so often it gets pushed aside as more immediate priorities occur. This Wednesday I managed to catch up with loads of emails, write a letter to neighbouring schools to set up sport and debating matches and work out trends in the data I have collected so far. As it worked well I should now be working from home one day a week. I think this will also help with the stress levels as I know I have that day to get on with things that I don't need to be at school to complete. Also on Wednesday i checked the post office and had a parcel which was very exciting as it contained plasters (I've already used the 100 that came with me in September- the joys of being accident prone), a newspaper (I've been really behind with the news), tissues, tomato ketchup sachets and most excitingly of all- chocolate!!!! Classes at school have been going well- my pre form class came up with mini drama plays about something that represented Tanzania, my Form One creative writing class described what sort of giant they would be (they have been reading the BFG) and I have begun the word game olympics with the same class- where they in teams are representing a fictional country in order to compete in games such as boogle, complete word searches, unscramble words etc faster than everyone else. They seem to be enjoying it and have until a song ends to finish a task (I actually think they prefer the music to the games but it keeps them quiet and seems to be a motivator to work). However from next week the plan is due to the fact that I have more work than I can fit in, is to cut some of my drama classes, giving me more time to focus on other things- particularly research collection, newspaper club and photography. In my role as activities and athletics coordinator- this week has been a busy one. In two weekends time it is 'Sports weekend' which is when our school will go to another one and compete in games that range from basketball to ultimate frisbee, football to softball in a three day long event. As we have many teams competing and many different sports, I have had to come up with a schedule to fit all the practices in, have teachers who are free to coach and also ensure that the pitch at school is not double booked. Its been a challenge but I really do it seems enjoy organising things! On Wednesday night at about 9pm I discovered that the school was competing on Saturday in some football matches about an hour away. This meant I spent part of Thursday and Friday running round like a headless chicken in order to get letters sorted for parents, transport booked, teams arranged and bread and bananas collected. We left for the match at 7.45 this morning and made it just ten minutes before our first game. There had been some trouble with transport as not everyone managed to fit in the school bus so I had to send some teachers and one student in on a dala dala. However, all ended up and the boys football team won 2-1 and the girls scored 0-0. Today was the final day of matches and the end result is that our school came first with the boys team and third with the girls after a season of games. Very proud of them all! I am finding that organising the school to attend events like today means that I go from feeling confident that everything will go smoothly, to having my heart race away as I have to make a decision that will affect everyone. However, all ultimately went well and I am learning skills in planning, organising and delegation. I just hope I don't become too bossy! I got in contact this week with a school near us about organising a football game against our youngest students and theirs. I think this will be the next event I have to plan and hoping to meet with their teachers during this upcoming week. Also in school this week I had a meeting with a girl called Katie who works in research within Tanzania. Her job is to collect data about the impact education has on the wider community, focusing also specifically on the impact of girls being educated and also if it causes problems destroying the indigenous culture. I will be collecting data on it from the area round us. At the moment this just consists of gathering quantitative information- statistics on how many students participate in events and activities etc. However, from January I will be helping to collect quantitative data. We will be employing a technique that interviews everyone within a community to tell their story. The questions remain kind of vague and focus on the changes that have taken place within a time frame. This information is then coded and narrowed down to look at what is important. As I am missing university studying quite a lot I am really looking forward to getting into this. Katie is giving me some reading on the research methods for over the Christmas holidays- as sad as it sounds I'm looking forward to this. I think it will be interesting to see the information while being on the ground to gather it and be able to compare to how that then correlates to the final papers that are then read back in the UK and places where the people reading them have never met those who the information is gathered about. They are then wanting to use another qualitative research method also however I don't know too much about this one just yet. Outside of school activities this week has been a quiet one. I have continued to exist on a subsistence of avocado, bananas, bread, peanut butter and rice. However I have discovered biscuits in the local shop that are really good and slightly addictive. I have read a lot, started to draw in the evenings and also introduced my housemates to the happiness that blaring out disney and Christmas music can bring (Luckily its not annoyed them too much yet- or they are too polite to say!) We are planning on spending the evening if there is power for the laptops watching 'Brave'. In the town I have reached many more agreements with people to teach me Swahili and am slowly, slowly picking it up. I am hoping to be fluent by the end of the year and luckily lots of people are on hand to help. I carry a notebook round with me to write everything I hear down phonetically to then learn as I don't feel too bothered about being able to read and write- at least not for now. It would be nice to be able to do but I think that will be the challenge from January. Our security guard is also teaching me Maasai and gives me a few words to learn each time he is working at our house- Maasai however seems considerably more complex! I had a visit to the tailor this week to get a dress made with some material that I got from the market. This was an interesting experience as they didn't speak English- I ended up miming a lot and using a little bit of Swahili- there was quite a lot of laughter. I pick it up on Wednesday so I shall see how much of a success it really was! I am very excited though to see it! We have some new guests in our house who I think arrived or at least I only just noticed them this week. They are a rather large number of bats who live in the toilet. There is something faintly spooky about having things that are the size of small crows flying around your head! Luckily they don't appear to have rabies! On the note of animals- it turns out our foster dog Freddie has at least three other names and three other homes as well as ours! He is possibly the cleverest, most adorable and well fed dog in the whole of Monduli!