(some of) your burning questions answered

so, my mom sent me a list of questions people have been asking her about me, and I’m sitting at a computer at peace corps headquarters in DSM for free (and with air conditioning!) so I figured I’d answer a few this morning.

1. How do you give tests? Do you just ask the questions orally, copy the questions on sheets of paper for each student? write the questions on a chalk board? or what???

For exams (midterms and finals) I submit a handwritten test to the school secretary who then prints it out on duplication paper (I’m not sure what exactly it is called) and so each student gets a copy of the test as well as lined paper to write their answers on. We also have weekly tests – each monday for the first two periods of the day the students take two quizzes in two different rotating subjects, so about two tests per subject per term. Because these are just short tests, usually only 5 questions or so, the teacher writes the questions on the chalk board and the students use notebook paper to write their answers.

The biggest problems with writing test questions on the chalk board are the limited space and poor quality of some of the chalkboards, but we make due.

2. What do your students write with and on?

Tanzanian students do all of their writing with blue or black pens. Even math and physics computations, which drives me crazy, because I think they should be done in pencil. Any diagrams that the students draw are done in pencil. Pencils are usually lacking among the students, which means if they have a diagram to draw during class or on a test (TZ teachers/exams are huge on diagram drawing) we have to wait for students to finish and pass around the pencils to those who don’t have them. Students, teachers and everyone who does any sort of writing use what we call daftaris (daf-tar-ees) which are notebooks made of lined paper and held together by staples, or ledger books which are kind of like thick composition books (you know, the ones with the black and white marble designed covers).

Oddly enough, the standard size of reem paper in TZ is about 3 or 4 inches longer than in the US.

3. Other than collecting rain water, how do you get your water?

I have 2 huge buckets that I store water in, so when it rains I fill those up and the water lasts me quite a while. My school, and house is on a large and steep hill surrounded on 3 sides by rivers and springs and streams, and the mountains that I live in are filled with small streams, so if it hasn’t rained recently and I need to replenish my supplies I have some students bring me a few buckets of water from the nearest spring. I’d do it myself, and probably will have to now that we are on school break and there won’t be students around, but the hill is pretty kali (swahili for fierce) and I don’t think I’d be able to chote (haul) more than half a bucket at a time for the first couple trips. I’ll keep you posted on my future water choting adventures.

4. Is your village all Muslim? or are there any other churches nearby? (this is not a Catholic guilt question)

My village and school is about 80% Muslim. The rest of the Tanzanians are various forms of Christian, but the only church in the area that I know of is Lutheran, as the entire area was settled/colonized/mission-ized (is that a word?) by the German Lutheran church. I have been to the Lutheran church a few times, and as far as I know it is pretty typical for a Lutheran church, except in swahili.

5. Are you learning about Islam?

Surprisingly no. Or at least very little other than when call to prayer is or when Muslim holidays are. I haven’t really made too much of an effort to though. One of my student’s fathers teaches some of the Islam classes at our school and I’ve been to visit his family a few times, but usually they ask me about Islam in America, which I know even less about…

Comments: 1 Comment

One Comment on “(some of) your burning questions answered”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    …please where can I buy a unicorn?


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