Today it is Monday the 26th of October which means I am in Moshi for one month and a bit now! On Monday the 21st of September I arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport with my backpack, violin and some mixed feeling of excitement, fear and doubt. Why did I think it was a good idea to book a ticket to Tanzania and trust the not knowing? What am I doing here!? This was also the question they asked me after waiting in 4 different queues to get a visa. My violin seemed to be an interesting and suspicious object and they did not believe my tourist story. 3 hours and lots of questions later I was the only person left in the arrival hall. As a last attempt I decided to give them the phone number of my contact person and luckily this phone call gave me the stamp in my passport to start my Afrika adventure. Thank you Stephanie!
International School Moshi is a 1 hour drive from the airport and if it is not to cloudy it has a beautiful view on the kilimanjaro. I am staying in the volunteer hours together with 4 other volunteers just outside the campus. The house has water and electricity but the candles and torches are always ready because of the regular power cuts. I think we have electricity about 4 days a week and most evenings.
The school feels like one big family. Most of the students are boarders so they live on the campus in the boarding houses and the teachers live on and around the campus as well. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner together in the dining hall in the middle of the campus. During the week we wake up around 6am. This is because breakfast is at 7 and school starts at 7:35 or 8:15. We don't have a television and often we are very tiered in the evening so our bedtime is around 8 or 9pm!
Most of the volunteers in the school are there to organise activities voor the boarding students or they are teacher volunteers. I am a little bit in the middle so there is not really a fixed schedule for me. I have to create my own schedule and that suits me just fine! In the past month I observed, joined in and led a lot of different classes and activities and soon I had a full schedule. Maybe even a little bit too full.. (Moving to an other place in the world does not mean you automatically change I guess haha.)
Susan, the music teacher, is an amazing person to work with. Together we plan which classes I will work with and where I can be most useful. At the moment I am writing a music story with primary 5 and we are creating a future instrument with primary 6. Besides these lessons I work with a vocal group and lead the music fun club for the primary students. With the diploma students I work individually to support them with their homework and assessments. I also assist in the drama class and art class. Next term we will start a school band and I will lead workshops in the interdisciplinary weekend for the m3 classes. It is nice to observe and assist lessons and to lead different groups and projects. There is a lot of space for me to explore new ideas. With some of it I have experience and I feel very comfortable but at the same time there are a lot of moments where I am just trying things as we go. Besides me teaching and leading there are student led projects and clubs which I absolutely love! On Tuesdays students teach me how to play guitar in the guitar club and on Friday I am in the students teach teachers swimming class. They are such amazing teachers!
I really enjoy working in the school but because everybody lives on and around the campus it sometimes feels a bit like a bubble. I try to spend as much time as possible meeting people outside the school and exploring Moshi and Arusha. Two times a week I work in the local nursery school around the corner with about 8 children age 1 t/m 4. They don’t speak English and my Swahili is very basic but we seem to understand each other just fine. I love their natural feel for music and movement so together we make a lot of noise whilst dancing around the classroom!
Every Thursday I visit a local school with some ISM students to talk and debate with each other. The students decide amongst themselves what they would like to talk about and it is always a very interesting afternoon with big topics like aids, arranged marriage, abortion etc. On Mondays some of these local students come to ISM to have 2 hours of music lessons with me. When I asked them what they expected from these music hours they gave me a list of instruments. I hope they were not to disappointed when they found out I could not teach them how to drum, play guitar, piano or trumpet. Instead we made a list of things we could do together and now we work for 2 hours every Monday and try to find ways to express the thoughts and ideas we talked about in the debates through music, text, drama and dance.
That is it for today! Writing regular updates is not really my thing but soon or later you will hear from me again in the future!
Geerte de Koe