Sunday, August 26, 2007

Birthday and Montessori visit in Mwanza

Well, another year older and a lovely birthday it was! Coincidently we had two friends visiting from out of town. It was a treat to have lunch with Darlene that had been working with us in Tanzania who lives in Minnesota but was passing through the Triangle to bring her daughter back to Physical Therapy school at Duke. Then one of our bestest friends came down to visit us and stayed the night. It was a really special treat to see Michael because he has just returned from teaching English in Japan for the last two years and he is getting ready to leave again to work with an organization doing voluntourism in Cambodia. We were lucky enough to visit Michael last year in Japan while we were teaching English in Thailand and it felt extra lucky to see him on my birthday. In the evening yesterday we got together with a bunch of friends and had a potluck picnic in a park that shows outdoor movies on the weekend in the summers. We watched Ratatouille which was really fun. Thanks everyone for such a great birthday! I have to say though that one of the biggest treats of all was just having my birthday fall on a Saturday and to have the day off. Back to a little bit of Africa updating. I wanted to share some of the photos that I took of one of the Montessori classrooms that I visited.

While in Tanzania I visited several different schools doing special days of guest teaching with children of all different ages and leaving behind large amounts of art supplies when I went. With each school I made sure to spend some extra time with the teachers to do some teacher training of how to use the materials that I left and how to integrate more creative learning into their curriculums.

One of the schools that I worked with actually has two Montessori trained teachers in the nursery school. I was totally amazed to talk to them and find that even though we had such different lives we had this common ground of teaching in our classrooms with the same principals and using the same materials. But when I saw the poor condition of the materials or the fact that almost all of them from the number rods to the continent puzzle maps were made by hand by the teachers I had to fight back tears. Chipped and cracked their pink tower only stands five blocks tall now and many of the works are made out of cardboard. Here as a part of your teacher training you learn how to make all of the materials yourself and many of the ones I saw were quite impressive. I am really hoping that in the future this school can be the recipient of older materials that we are ready to retire at the school that I teach at but would be ever so valued here in Tanzania.

All of the schools that I visited, whether public, private, or religiously run have very few resources. Some floors are cement, others are simply dirt. Some have chalkboards on the wall and others are just leaned against the wall or on the floor. Many have desks but in others the children just sit on the floor. None of the schools have electricity or glass in the windows. But in all schools the children are fed at least lunch if not breakfast also. This alone is a wonderful thing about schools here.

So please enjoy another little slide show of images from my visit to the Montessori class in Mwanza.

1 comment:

Noelle said...

As always, Sarah, your photography and your words are very moving! What an experience! : )