I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos.  I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos. 

I  have descent internet at a cofee shop in Dar es Salaam. Here are some photos. 

My house photos My house photos My house photos My house photos My house photos My house photos My house photos

My house photos

Move to site

My first official job was to assist my headmaster to administer an entrance exam for new incoming class for my school. I stayed in Dar for a few extra days and on Saturday gave the exam. I regret not having my camera with me. Students came all over the country and sat in a large auditorium. The whole hall was lined with desks one meter apart and a student sat in each of the desks. The rows were nice and straight and it was just a sea of students bending over their exams!

The next morning we drove down to the south (I was so lucky I did not have to carry all my suitcases and bags on public transport). We arrived around 4 pm and I was given my house key! My own house! For the first time in my life having a place of my own. The pictures hopefully do the justice so I don’t have to explain the house. I have two lizards that live at my house permanently (I think). One behind the choo tank (bathroom tank), and one on the wall in my bedroom. I think I will start a new page of “living creatures I find in my house”.

I live about a 5 minute walk from the school and get to interact with students all the time. I teach math at a vocational school (to carpentry, masonry and bricklaying students) and I will start teaching Information and Communication Technology at a secondary school. So far I did not really have free time, but in the time that I am not teaching or preparing a teaching lesson, I sweep my room, wash my clothes, wash the bed sheets (all by hand), organize my stuff or try to prepare/think of a math game for students. I don’t have a ceiling, so cement pieces from the roof fall on my bed/floor all the time when lizards crawl on the ceiling, so sweeping takes up a considerable amount of time.

I have a lot more to talk about, but I am realizing that I am posting three blog posts in one day. I will hold on to the other stories for next time.

October 4, 2014

 

No longer a Trainee

Before I left USA, I wrote in my calendar for September 17th: “Swear In” and now that day has come and gone!

The last week of training was a hectic time. We came to Dar es Salaam, had conferences with our Heads of Schools, took care of last business (like setting up bank accounts), and prepared performance for swearing in ceremony.

On the morning of 17th, we all arrived at the ambassador’s residence ready to celebrate. There were a lot of speeches by all kinds of people, we sang a song (a version of “cups” song) that was accompanied by dancing, said the official swearing in oath by the ambassador and cut the cake. Afterwards we just mingled on the nice cut grass of the residence eating fancy finger foods and drinking juice. And that was it! We were now official volunteers, which means our two year countdown has begun.

October 4, 2014

Last day with my host family

My last full day with the family was on Friday, September 12. As a good-bye present, I gifted the family a soccer ball, and they threw me a party in the evening. When the boys came home from school, we went to the village pump and filled water balloons. The boys did not actually throw the balloons around because they were too precious to throw. So they just carried them around till they popped.

After all balloons were popped we played some soccer. The soccer ball was brand new, and they were very excited to play with a real ball (kids here play with a ball of plastic bags wrapped with rope). After the “game” we came back home and they poured water into a bucket, washed the ball with an old t-shirt; rinsed and wrung out t-shirt and dried the ball. They are so precious.

As a rule, kids were not allowed in my room at any time. However, since this was my last day, I decided to make the exception for two of my kakas and their neighbor friend. We took a trip to the store and got sodas, then I invited them to my room. They were jumping up and down from excitement, ran to the kitchen and got 3 glasses. They would pour their soda 1/3 of the glass at a time and cheer each other and danced to the music I played from my iPad (thank you Betty). After soda was gone, they sat down and asked me to teach them English (kids here always say “Good Morning”, so I reviewed with them what to say at each time of day).

In the evening, my family threw me a party! They made a cake that said “Hongera Alina” (Congratulations Alina), cooked a bunch of food invited friends and family and even hired a photographer. The party started with cutting the cake. There is a cool tradition here of feeding the cake, and after my first cut and a phot of “cutting the cake” they took over and cut tiny pieces of cake. My job was to feed everyone a piece of cake on a toothpick. The order that I fed everyone was very specific, e.g. after feeding mama, I fed the husband of oldest daughter even though it was my first time seeing him. After I fed everyone, it was my turn to get fed. Everyone who wanted, fed me a piece of cake: that was a lot of cake. It was just a fun time of feeding and laughing. Then people gave me presents, my mama gave me a beautiful kitenge (fabric from which I’ll make a dress), I also got shirts and cookies and little things from people at the party. Also, the dress I wore at the party was a gift from my family.

We ate a lot of food, took a lot of photos, and had a lot of fun. I really did not want to go to sleep because I had to leave the next morning at 6 am (or shall I say 12 in the morning) and did not want to say good bye to my family. In the morning my mama, dada and kaka woke up early too and walked me with my bags to the village office where I was being picked up. It was sad to leave them but I hope to visit them again, they live only three day travel from me.

September 15, 2014

Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming!

Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming!

New mailing address 

From now on I will be receiving mail at my school! 

Abbey Secondary School 
Alina Nestjorkina 
P. O. Box 11 
Ndanda 
Masasi 
Tanzania

How many people can fit into a daladala?

Always one more! Yesterday I went to town by myself to my future village. On the main road I waived down a daladala, a small bus with a specific route, and hopped in as it was taking off. The bus was a little crowded but I managed to find a room to stand up front among baskets and bags. At the next stop the conductor asked me to move back because he could not open the door. 

I moved to the isle and more people got on the bus. At this point I am in full body contact with three people: font, back and left. As we are coming to another stop I am hoping that somebody is getting off…no…more people getting on. The bus door can’t close anymore and I have floor space for only one of my feet to stand. As the bus is moving, you just have to hold on to the bar above with all strength as all people sway with the motion of the bus. Finally we stop again and some people get off. I can now stand with both feet on the floor. 

At another stop a passenger needs to get a bag that is tucked away behind the last row of seats. Unfortunately the back only opens from the inside and there are too many people in the isle for conductor to get to the back. Lightbulb!! He’ll open the back window, without a warning climb in through the window and over the person who is sitting by the window, squeeze to the back and open the back door for the passenger to grab the bag from the back!! Great lightbulb idea, and it works! 

We are on our way again, now we can all stand with both feet on the ground, however at each stop about five people get off the bus to let a person out. As the bus starts moving the five people jump onto the steps and hold to a bar inside as half of their body hangs outside the bus. Half an hour later I arrive at my destination, a town with a little market to do my shopping. Fortunately the bus on the way back is pretty empty, and even though I am standing the whole time, no full body contact with anyone. 

The proverb of “always room for one more” is really true! This experience is still considered mild, and I’m excited for a more extreme transportation story. When I asked my volunteer shadow about his worst bus experience, he said that it gets to a point when you want to crawl up into a ball and cry (and this is from a guy who backpacks countries solo). I am assuming that when I get to that point I WILL crawl up into a ball and cry, and then make a blog post about it! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014 

Where will I serve?? 

Our sites were announced on September 27th. That was a day we have all been anticipating for long time. The event started with a group of Tanzanian dancers and drummers performing. A lot of volunteers joined into the dancing and it was fantastic. Afterwards we sat down and a few people gave short speeches. Then THE BOARD was uncovered. On the board were 61 photos covered with 61 sticky notes and pieces of thread ran from the stickies to a pin that lead to a place on the map of Tanzania. First person at random came to the board and took off the first sticky note: and the first face was uncovered. We all cheered wildly and the person came up, got a folder of information, picked up an apple and two American candy bars (apples are rare here). Then the person proceeded to take off another sticky note from a photo in their region. 

More than half of sticky notes were peeled but my face was still covered somewhere….at last a volunteer peeled a sticky note and it was my photo!!!! MTWARA!!! I am going to Mtwara region!!! I grabbed my folder, shook hands and unveiled the next name! Then I grabbed the coveted apple and candy bars. While waiting for my name to be called I was equally excited to get my apple as I was excited to see where I was going. Fresh apples!!!! Anyways, there are 5 volunteers going to Lindi/Mtwara region (including me). All the announcements were followed by excitement, sharing of information, taking photos, another awesome performance of the Tanzanian dancers/drummers and fun time. 

Volunteers traveling thought Dar es Salaam left Korogwe on Saturday late morning (after early morning crocodile adventure). We spent the night in Dar and next morning were picked up at 5 am by PC driver at the hotel. The next hour was quite hectic. We went to Ubongo, a huge bus station where we were to load busses going south. It was still dark, yet there was already traffic. There were thousands of people, many tried to help us get our stuff to the bus (for money). We fast walked through rows of huge charter buses, some were pulling out of their spots and it was the person’s responsibility to get out of buses way. The bus just took off and you ran and squeezed between huge moving busses to get to your bus. There is NO way I would of been able to do that without the help of our Tanzanian driver. We finally got on our bus, but had one more step to do; transfer busses at another station before heading south. When bus pulled up to the next station I realized one of my backpack pockets was open and my Burt’s Bees Chapstick gone. I closed the pocket and checked the other one… it was empty… my point-and-shoot camera was gone too. I didn’t have too much time to think about it because we had only about five minutes to switch busses. We settled in our seats and were finally on our way. The bus left the city around 7:30 am and arrived at my banking city, Massasi, around 3:30 pm. 

In Massasi, we were met by 3 volunteers who live in the region. We hung out, explored the town, ate and stayed at a guesti in town. We were assigned a volunteer to shadow and the next morning me and my assigned shadow volunteer left early to his site (he had to teach the first period). 

On Thursday I arranged to go see my future school, we took a bus to town and then walked about one kilometer to reach the school. I will be teaching at an all boys, private, Roman Catholic, boarding school. The students speak good English (ang get punished if get caught speaking Kiswahili), the water comes from a spring which is safe for drinking, the school has really nice science labs and is currently hosting two other volunteers (not through Peace Corps). 

After the tour of the school, my headmaster drove us to a vocational school (that is part of the same catholic mission). There’s a chane I’ll teach math at the vocational school too. We got to see shops where students were learning welding, machinery, mechanics, carpentry, electrical, etc. The mission which runs the school is also associated with a printing press, a hospital, butcherer and I’m sure other things. Their primary partnership is with Germany. 

To say the least, I’m excited to settle here! I am heading back to Korogwe on Saturday and after swearing in will return here somewhat for good!! 

Thursday September 4, 2014