A Travellerspoint blog

The taste of DOOM

33 °C

Hi, it’s Katie, blogging at the end of a busy week at VETA Mikumi.

Each day this week we have been visiting the classrooms of the Mikumi faculty who participated in CCEDP last summer to learn a bit more about their teaching challenges (eg large class sizes, limited resource materials and varying abilitiesof students in English) and how they are using some of the skills and techniques from NSCC to adapt them for use here.

Each day we have also had a group discussion with the faculty teachers who came to NSCC last year, and the four faculty teachers chosen to come to NSCC in June/July 2011, about how we can enhance the Mikumi faculty experience at NSCC and the experience for our CCEDP faculty and participants. We have been discussing expectations ( a great deal of enthusiasm and excitement about the learning that they have heard about from the four past participants and through exposure to our visiting faculty and students) and fears or concerns (some are worried about food and their unfamiliarity with some of the computer technology they may need to use for assignments, etc.). This is all really helpful to Claudine and I as we will work together with Ashley and Brian upon our return to make use of this feedback and plan for their arrival in June.

Claudine did some portfolio learning work with the faculty, and separately, with the students. In advance she told me she was not sure before the sessions how well it would connect to the Tanzanians culturally, but wanted to try it out with them. I helped out with the sessions and was really impressed by how engaged everyone was in the learning, and there was alot of laughter as well, always a good sign. After the sessions the students and faculty have become very comfortable asking us questions, looking for more information, and helping us learn Swahili etc. Many of the students and employees here are still talking about tourism students and NSCC faculty who have visited Mikumi over the past two years – they talk frequently about George, Tony, Wendy, Jim, Ashley, and our students.

I have also spent time with Chris Ayo, the principal and his management team, discussing their future goals and dreams for Mikumi – lots of exciting stuff. The mood here is optimistic, and there are several construction projects and renovations underway and in various stages of completion: eg the much anticipated visitors centre (Chris brought this idea back from Canada with input from Saronga and tourism faculty at NSCC) – expected to be finished in June 2011; computer lab (with computers and equipment purchased under our project – and to be complemented by Dave Arthur and Darlene Redmond’s IT service learning network project with two students in May 2011); new tourism classroom, new residence, etc. VETA Mikumi is able to raise funds for these projects with their entrepreneurial activities like their restaurant and accommodation units, and I hope we can continue to find a way to support them in this work.

Of course there are plenty of challenges as well. The power has been rationed (mostly out) for most of our time in Tanzania everywhere we have been. The country relies on hydroelectric power and we are just at the start of the rainy season and the water levels are not high enough to provide sufficient supply. VETA Mikumi is dependent on generators which are expensive to run on fuel. There is interest in renewable energy, but solar panels and other technology are not yet widely used.

I am using a Tanzanian mobile phone here which is great but there have been network issues so i am sometimes missing messages or calls. I have a dial-up wireless internet connection device but the line drops frequently and its tough to rely on email communication. On campus its ok to organize our meetings and activities because so much of our work is face to face, but it is sometimes tricky organizing our logistics for the next phase of our journey off campus, and to stay connected with my work at the college and in other parts of the world.

Yesterday after work Saronga took us on a “village safari”, to get a better idea of what it is like to live in the local area here. I was having such a good time walking around with him and listening to his stories I wiped out in a mud puddle and had the whole village (and Claudine) laughing. Luckily i was wearing my black NSCC International tshirt and my culturally appropriate yoga capris from joe fresh (see Zoran, that colour of tshirt can be useful).

I’m feeling a little under the weather today. Might be because I tasted a bit of “doom” (an aptly named ubiquitous insecticide with an unforgettable fragrance) on my toothbrush today, not the first time I’ve tasted Doom... Anyway hopefully I can survive to write at least one more blog before we leave Mikumi.

Posted by NSCC Intl 03:17 Archived in Tanzania

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Katie, thanks for sharing the updates from your trip. Great for you to have been in the group's classes and observing them and the ideas they gained from their time at CCEDP.
Safe travels home - will be interested in hearing the ideas for future CCEDP partnering.

by Libby

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