Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stan's House

As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts Kir, Nate and I were extremely lucky the day a 17 year old boy appeared at our after school soccer program. Over the past two months we became close to Stan, and one day he invited us over to his house to meet his family and have dinner. We were so excited and very thankful. It was such as sweet invitation. Last week we finally made our adventure over to Stan’s house and it was wonderful. He lives only five minutes away from the soccer pitch in an apartment complex. We marched up to the fourth floor and quickly met his grandmother, two older sisters, mother, father, and his adorable little brother named Joshua. Stan’s parents and siblings are all spitting images of each others and are all some of the nicest people I have ever met. Stan’s mother is a tailor and his dad is a policeman. Both of his older sisters are in college, and Joshua is busy being the most adorable 4-year-old boy around. We were flowered with presents consisting of a painting, a weaved basket, and jewelry. Sadly, the only thing we had to offer were silly bands, but they did succeed in creating great joy in Joshua. I also showed Joshua the Pixar short entitled and it rocked his world. Over the two hours we were guests, we were offered our fill of food and coffee and curious/wonderful conversation. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was welcomed into such a welcoming home by the entire family in one sitting. It will go down as one of my favorite moments in Tanzania.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Weekend At Gibbs Farm

The lodge that my sister, my mom and I stayed at was called Gibbs Farm and it was really wonderful. It was started back in the day by a German man who wanted to start a working coffee plantation, however, is now a full time lodge with a little bit of coffee production. Somehow we got lucky at got a wonderful room (more like our own lodge) called the Deutsch house and it had two bedrooms, and each one had a really nice bathtub, shower, and outdoor shower! Not to mention incredible beds. I thought I was in a different world. The really cool part about traveling around Tanzania is that everyone is literally from everywhere, playing the accent guessing game has become a common pastime.

The great thing for my vegetarian sister Corey was that all the meals were created from the lodge’s own garden. I had some of the best veggies and salads ever. Gibbs Farm is quite small, so everyone eats in one cozy dining room, which I think adds a lot to the atmosphere.

The lodge also had a resident artist, which I thought was really cool. Being an artist, as a profession here doesn’t really exist, so it was exciting to finally see one. For example, of all the schools we have worked at, only one school has an art teacher. Furthermore, the lodge has a stunning view, the perfect thing to look at while sipping the free/local teas.

The lodge also has its own daily schedule of activities. Corey and I decided to give milking a cow a try (not my favorite), and the much more enticing bush baby feeding at twilight. A super cute animal.

Side note: the best thing to relax to on a beautiful African farm…..Glee with your sister

The Crater and the Lake

However, a major reason why we came to this lovely lodge was for the well known/beautiful safaris. On Saturday we had a full day safari to Ngorongoro Crater, which I had heard many wonderful things about and was really excited to go. We had to get up at the lovely hour of 6:30, eat breakfast in our cozy dining room, and then head off on our adventure. The morning was extremely foggy, and at times I thought I was driving through a cloud. We couldn’t see a thing. Our guide, Bashu, promised us the day would clear up so we could see something/anything at all, and I could only hope he was right. For the first hour we had to drive into the crater so we were on super windy roads for quite some time. There were a couple instances I thought we were going to side down the cliff. About an hour into our drive the sun finally broke through (very much Lion King style), and everything became crystal clear. The safari was amazing. We saw many lions, ostriches, wildebeests, monkeys, impalas, dikdiks, hippos, hyenas, and much more. We even got lucky enough to see two of the remaining ten rhinos in the park. We adventured about until about three in the afternoon and then we headed back to Gibbs Farm.

Since I had to get back to Arusha by Sunday evening, we only had enough time on Sunday for a half-day game drive. This time we went to Lake Manyaro, which was quite different than the crater. The lake is much more of a jungle atmosphere so we were excited to see something a little bit different. We saw many different new types of birds and monkeys. We also saw a lot more of the animals we had already seen but seeing them in this new jungle/lake environment made it new again. Sadly, at about two or so we had to head to the airport, marking the end of a wonderful weekend and the closing end of the Malone African Family Adventure.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend Getaway with the Family

This past weekend was incredible because my family and I flew to the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyaru, and stayed at the wonderful Gibbs Farm.

The entire weekend was perfect, but it started off with an incredible experience on the way there—I got to fly the plane. We were the only ones on the flight and I asked the pilot, Liz, what the flying conditions were (flying is not my cup of tea, but obviously doesn’t stop me from traveling one bit). She told me it was going to be bumpy because it was hot and windy, I told her that I’m a bit afraid. She immediately told me to get into the co-pilots seat. I assumed this was because it would be the least bumpy place on the plane but I was wrong. Ten minutes into the flight she told me to take hold of the steering gear and told me how to use it and where to steer the plane. I did exactly what she told me to do and in three seconds she was writing stuff down, taking a water break, chatting with my family, aka NOT flying the plane. I was a little shocked and bit nervous but took full advantage of the opportunity. Lets just say I was so intensely concentrating that I didn’t have time to think about being afraid. When we landed she told me that flying a plane would decrease the fear of flying. She was right.

***more to come on this weekend***

Cooking Lesson

Last Sunday Pele set up another weekend activity for us because we had a free day. However, this free day was extra special because my mom and sister (Corey) had arrived. YAY!! The cooking lesson was at an old host mom’s restaurants backdoor kitchen. It was a great set up. We were quickly put to work on getting veggies and meat ready. The whole process took about four hours, but the food couldn’t have been better. I asked if they had any recipes to share, but apparently the concept of recipes does not exist in Africa, you just know (don’t worry Dylan I will look up what we made and find some great recipes to send to you to add to your cooking expertise). I will post those the first time I get the change/have reliable Internet.


Some of you might already know this but sine I have been here, Nate, Kir, and I have been running an after school soccer clinic at the Arusha School. We normally coach kids from the ages of 5-16. The clinic has been one of my favorite things activities. We were extremely lucky to meet one of the teachers named Mr. Kilinga who offers his room to us at the school to relax in and change in everyday. He also comes and plays with us most days. Furthermore, he is the regional director of the Model United Nations Club. Yes, they have it in Western Africa, pretty cool. Secondly, we were very lucky to meet a 16-year-old boy named Stanley who lives by the school. He has basically become a fourth coach, and is a godsend because he translates everything we say into Kiswahili. The school is private and therefore the instruction is in English, but soccer vocabulary isn’t something taught in schools. Each day we do drills for half an hour and then scrimmage for the last twenty minutes.

Cultural Misunderstanding

Last week I had one of the biggest internal conflicts of my life in terms of understanding a different culture. We arrived at the high school we were teaching at on time, and immediately took not that all the girls were leaving the classrooms while the boys stayed inside. We were immediately confused because our lesson was supposed to start in a minute, and had no idea why all the girls were leaving. We walked into our classroom and then heard the notorious noise of a stick in the air. I look outside and every single girl in the entire school is kneeling on the ground waiting to be beat with a stick by the teachers. I immediately become sick and furious. I watch as the girls are hit one by one. I look at my watch and notice that we are 15 minutes into our allotted class time. The teacher we are working with quickly comes up and tells us to start our lesson. I say, “but the girls are not here, it wouldn’t be fair for them not to gain anything from our lesson. Do you really want us to start?” The teacher replies, “yes, they will be back in five minutes.” NO, they came back with three minutes left in the lesson. We taught a class of only boys. I was furious. It makes perfect sense to beat ALL the girls in a country where girls are already the minority in schools. Lets punish those that make it all the way to high school. Call me a feminist, but I also don’t think the use of physical punishment has any place in schools.

Teaching High School

Currently listening to: The Swell Season

Last week we made a huge age jump from teaching elementary school to high school seniors. I was honestly nervous because I wasn’t sure how the students would respond to being taught by someone who was only a few years older than them. However, I was beyond happy with the outcome.

Teaching AIDS in Africa:
Possibly the reason why I was most nervous when we switched to teaching high school was because our first lesson was to teach the different ways the virus can be transmitted. After talking with the teacher we decided to make an AIDS tree to show transmission by using the students to create a human diagram. I think the picture turned out pretty good. Afterwards we listened to the teacher go into detail about the virus. We thought the teacher did a very good teaching the lesson, however, there were a couple comments we were a bit bothered by:
-Wearing ‘style’ will prevent you from getting the virus
-Not using contraceptive pills will prevent you from getting the virus
-Engaging in economic activity will prevent you from getting the virus
-Going to church will prevent you from getting the virus (hmmmm)

Hopefully these different bits of information were lost in translation, aka make much more sense in Kiswahili…. But overall I loved working with the teacher. Also, it is interesting to note that AIDS, transmission, prevention, etc. is in the curricula here starting in first grade. Imagine that in the USA.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When I was a young girl, I had me a cowboy...

Thought I’d introduce this post with a lyric from the song I’m currently listening to.

Today is July 11th and I’ve been in Tanzania for almost a month now, and have less than a month left here. I can definitely say that this is a summer filled with unique experiences. I had my first moment of genuine frustration while teaching this past week. I was teaching the pros and cons of the tourism industry in Arusha and the children just weren’t getting it. The final step was for the kids to find a solution to common problems that occur from tourists, but their brains just weren’t turned on. The lesson eventually ended and not all of my students had finished projects. I left the classroom upset, but after calming down I learned that sometimes you can only hope for some kids to understand bits and pieces and not always the big picture (at least not in one 40 minute, quick crash course). I have had great successes, but its sad that you normally always focus on the moments of failure.

In other new my mom and sister come on Saturday. I’m really excited about showing them around Arusha.

I only have two more nights at my homestay. It has been a wonderful experience and I’m really sad to be leaving them.


Today while teaching one of the Tanzanian teachers came up to one of my students are started yelling at her to get something out of her mouth. She quickly became tight lipped and didn’t respond to him. I asked her to open her mouth for me and realized that she had braces. I had to explain to the teacher what they were for and she wasn’t misbehaving. He told me he had never seen them before.

Charles and Kennedy

My two host brothers could not be nicer. I am especially fond of Charles because he always wants to do everything with me, which is adorable. So far on my computer we have watched Twilight twice (by the way bonus points for anyone who can find out if Eclipse is somewhere in Arusha, Tanzania), Harry Potter, the cartoon Presto, The Day the World Stood Still, and Home Alone. They love watching movies on my computer. When I get home from teaching/soccer they always want to kick the ball around which I love.

End of the Cup

Once the United States was defeated I joined the large Ghana bandwagon. I thought this was fitting since I am in Africa after all and they beat us. If you are reading this and haven’t watched the highlights of the last Ghana game, you must! By far the most exciting and crazy soccer game I have ever seen. After the teams loss, I could hear screaming and horns blowing (in sadness obviously) for about an hour after the game. Sleep was little.

I’m pretty indifferent about who wins between Spain and the Netherlands. Win-win?

Homestay First Impressions/Communion

The day we started our homestay we all anxiously waited at our apartments for our homestay family to come pick us up. I was quickly informed that my host parents would not be picking me up because their sons Charles (9) and Kenedy (12) were having their first communion and a party to follow. Instead I was picked up by my host family’s “house girl.” The best way to describe a house girl is a live in maid and nanny and someone who basically takes care of all house chores. Some families treat house girls as if they are an extra member of the family, however some treat them as if they are much lower than them. For example, Cameron’s “house workers” live in a shack behind the house.

After quickly dropping off the stuff at my house, I was quick driven to the where the first communion party was being held. I knew the moment that I could hear loud music thumping from speakers that I was in for a surprise. I thought I was attending a wedding. The huge room was covered in pink and white and a large number of tables and chairs were set up. At the entrance was an open bar, this was my first realization that my family had put a lot of money into this event. When we sat down at our table I met a 16-year-old girl named Lisa who was a close family friend of my new host family. She explained to us that first communion is treated closely in the same fashion as weddings. That explained a lot. The party consisted of dancing present giving lines, champagne popping, about a million toasts, and one of the largest buffets of food I’ve ever seen. The party went from 3-8:30 at night. At the end of it all I was quickly whisked away by Nate’s family because my family had to stay behind to do clean up. It wasn’t until about 10:30 that night that I finally met my exhausted host parents. They really couldn’t be nicer. I knew everyone wanted to crash in their beds, so we all passed out shortly after.