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