The last week has flown by incredibly fast. In fact it is now only four weeks until I come home for Christmas. Time here is definitely a strange thing- everything is either extremely fast or very slow with very little in between. I have long lists planned for the food I am I am looking forward to eat when I come back to Scotland, and am excited to use a washing machine, shower and be able to drink tea without having to boil water for five minutes first again (and remove bugs). That being said I feel in the last week I have properly settled and got into life much better here. Even the food doesn't seem so bad anymore and I still highly recommend avacado and orange to anyone looking for a Monduli gourmet meal (best served with crackers!)
This week was slightly unusual in that I had Wednesday off school to attend a career event in Arusha. The event at Mount Meru Hotel was extremely posh- everyone was in suits, there was air conditioning, bottled water, security to get into the event, people to take you from room to room at a lot of very comfy sofas, flushing toilets and green plants (an unusual sight here as it's still the dry season). The event was fairly informative as to what options are available for university here. Unfortunately many places still have high tuition fees which is an obstacle for our students but I managed to get quite a lot of information for scholarships also. Attending the event was representatives from Canada, Mauritius, Switzerland, UAE and Turkey. There seems to be a push for Tanzanian students to enter either management or tourism degrees. Many of the universities represented were affiliated to universities in the UK, France and American and offered small 'colleges' elsewhere. I walked away from the event with a lot of brochures and 50 bookmarks for the students at school. Overall it was fairly successful!
Late Wednesday night we found out that the school was to be closed on Thursday as the new president had announced it as a national holiday. This was unexpected and very last minute so messed up any of the school plans. Some teachers as a result still went in and I worked from home finishing off some paperwork things and editing some photos. I did however take some time to go to the large weekly market that happens on Thursdays but which I normally miss as I am at school. I have now begun my Christmas shopping and also had a less successful hunt for a solar light.
The photography at school is going well and continues to be my favourite part of being here. This week I have taken over 1500 photos, however many of these did end up being deleted! I am now going to be more involved in the schools social media also, though am trying to fully work out what this involves. My new classes are very enthusiastic which really helps with teaching. The students have lots of questions and we spent Friday morning watching 'Frozen'. The only thing about this was the parts I found funny and laughed at try didn't get and all stared at me while the parts they found funny I had no idea what they were laughing at! I guess a difference in cultural translation! I and another volunteer afterwards did have a discussion about the lack of films, disney or otherwise, that have any main characters that are African. A similar problem has been found in the school library where books such as 'Goosebumps', Jacqueline Wilson stories and stories about horses are donated but yet do not make any sense and are completely out of place in this setting. Roald Dahl does however seem to be a hit!
Saturday our school competed at a sports day in an international school in Arusha. While our school is not international and is completely different from the other ones in these events we get invited along which is an amazing experience for the students and for us staff too! The school we were at was huge and had an outdoor swimming pool, proper gym, multiple basketball courts and a large football pitch. We competed in Under 14 Basketball and Under 19 Football and won six out of eight games. What was especially impressive is that in the basketball our students were half the size of their opponents but did extremely well. A personal highlight of the day was that the school fed all the teachers who attended and so we got barbecued chicken and chips- a very special treat! Our students got rice and beans which we provided for them, which was an interesting process to get to them! The school mamas cooked it in the morning and then it got driven on a hired motorbike to the dala (like an overcrowded bus) stand- it then came on a bus where a teacher took it at a stop at the side of the road and walked to the school we were in. It was well travelled food! I was in charge of dishing out rice which I had to scoop on paper plates out the bucket using a mug. It is a surprisingly tricky task and that I might not be best suited to as it was hard to actually get it to stay on a plate! I and another teacher had organised that the school attend this event which meant a challenging week in advance however I definitely think I've learned a lot of skills from it; organisation, how to get 35 kids in the right place at the right time and how not panic! Tanzania in many ways finds a way to push me out my comfort zone each week but I've getting better at adapting and giving things a go. It's definitely a good opportunity to work out what I can and can't do!
Today is just a lazy day of finishing things off and getting ready for the next week. Sunday's are clothes washing, room cleaning, shopping and stress free days! Emilie, one of the other volunteers has just given me a cooking lesson. My culinary skills are not fantastic and mostly revolves around baking cakes- not exactly the most helpful skill for everyday life! Now we are all crashed outside on cushions being very lazy and watching a group of chickens that have broken through our hedge!