A Travellerspoint blog

February 2011


sunny 32 °C

Its katie writing on my last night in Tanzania. Claudine left on Monday to return to Canada and I continued on to Morogoro with Christopher and Saronga from Mikumi and Emmanuel Ngallah from World Jet to participate in a symposium for all 12 ACCC Education For Employment projects in Tanzania. The meeting included presentations and discussions with representatives from VETA institutes, Canadian Colleges, relevant ministries, CIDA, and some reps from the private sector (but very few....). The symposium will present recommendations for the potential next phase of EFE projects in Tanzania and EFE in other countries.

The symposium was launched by the Minister of Education and Paul Brennan from ACCC. Paul talked about the crisis in the middle east in terms of a revolution of young unemployed people who need skills training and jobs (in the EFE model of course!). he made a compelling argument. Tanzania is a very peaceful country now, but the young population will not likely

We were invited to present our project as a case study and all four of us were able to share our perspectives on the value of the project, early sucesses and ongoing challenges. The presentation went very well and we had a few nice compliments, including one rep from the ministry of education who said she had heard that there were 'big changes at mikumi' and that they are the VTC to watch... nice to hear, but we still have lots of hard work to do!!

One of the the persistent themes in the symposium was the gap between the training institutions and the private sector. Our team has come up with an exciting pilot project to test a way to bridge that gap, and we shared it with the symposium and got some really good feedback. We are planning to have Saronga's second year students on a special field attachment at World Jet for two weeks prior to our tourism students/faculty arrival in May. They will be assigned with preparing to tour our group through the village museum and provide top level tour guiding baed on two weeks of research and preparation and exposure and experience with World Jet supervision. The Mikumi students will be evaluated by Emmanuel, Saronga and Adam (our NSCC tourism faculty leader in May) and will have a record of their performance to use in their portfolio for future employment opportunities. A simple idea, but will require commitment and input from Emmanuel, Saronga, our NSCC team and the students themselves of course. We will evaluate the pilot and share the results with the EFE teams for possible replication in their fields.

Exciting stuff, and a good way to end my time here. Was also great to reconnect with friends and colleagues from ACCC, the Marine Institute and NSAC and meet new people involved in similar projects. I think everyone feels motivated to continue, but now the hard work of continuing the momentum once thousands of kilometres are between us, knowing all our communication challenges and competing priorities.

Heading off to the airport, so I am signing off from Tanzania.

Posted by NSCC Intl 09:52 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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 Comments (1)

karibu from Tanzania

sunny 30 °C

Karibu from Tanzania. Today is day 7 in this beautiful hot country. We have been warmly welcomed by everyone and especially by the Faculty and Staff at Mikumi who seem absolutely delighted that we are with them. Obviously others from NSCC have set the stage for us. Everyone we meet seems to have been touched by either our students or our faculty. The words that come to mind as I write this blog are: inspiring, different, engaging, encouraging and humbling.

We at NSCC should feel great pride in the work and learning that has been done here. So I visit classrooms, talk with teachers and other staff I hear NSCC words and observe NSCC methods in operation. Everyone speaks with eagerness about their engagement with NSCC and the faculty who joined us last summer are beginning to mentor other faculty. It is all more than good.

Yesterday I observed Peter in his class of 50 students facilitating group work where for the first time students were teaching and learning from one another and providing support for ideas and questioning each other. I wished I could video tape this session. He learned the technique in Audrey’s Dynamic Instructor course. All the while the students were learning there was chaos on the roof as the baboons played and frolicked – no one paid any attention. Each day brings new ideas and surprises. The Faculty are eager to try all my wild and wonderful active learning techniques and they are excelling at implementing them in their own context. It is both encouraging and humbling.

My learning has been on many different levels. Personally I have gone au naturale with the hair (blew up the hair dryer in Dar the first day), I have given up makeup for the duration as it runs in the heat and humidity, I stumble to learn Swahili words as everyone tries to help me, I can wring out my mismatched wardrobe due to profuse perspiration – none of this seems to matter to me or to others. Perhaps one gets over oneself for a brief period. Katie and I just laugh about all this and keep on going. The people make up for everything.

I write this under the African sky in the dark at about 30 degrees centigrade and revel in the fact that I am here with such wonderful people. Doesn’t get any better until tomorrow.

Posted by NSCC Intl 10:01 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Claudine's Bucket List

NSCC Organizational Learning Dean working at VETA Mikumi, Tanzania in Februrary 2011

sunny 30 °C

Happy Valentines Day from Mikumi, Tanzania! My name is Katie Orr and I am the International Director at NSCC and I have the privelege to be here with Claudine Lowry, our Dean of Organizational Learning. Claudine's team hosted four VETA Mikumi faculty last summer for two months of training in our Community College Education Diploma Program (CCEDP), and this week Claudine and I are meeting with those faculty members plus four more faculty scheduled to come to NSCC for more CCEDP courses and more work with our School of Business faculty and academic chairs.

Today we started to get their suggestions on maximizing the CCEDP experience for the faculty coming to NSCC in July, and to look forward to plan for possible ongoing mentoring, teaching and learning collaboration between NSCC and VETA Mikumi during our ACCC/CIDA Education for Employment (EFE) tourism training project.

We have been warmly welcomed at Mikumi, and arrived yesterday after a long journey from Dar es Salaam. In Dar we were able to meet with Mr. Moshi, head of the VETA system, and Nigel Allen, the ACCC EFE project manager to discuss how the 12 EFE projects are going, and get feedback on our project in particular. Both were very complimentary of the achievements of our project in a short amount of time and the vision and commitment of VETA Mikumi principal Mr. Christopher Ayo. Great to hear that our employees and students have made an impact here. We have certainly felt the impact at NSCC!

In Dar we also met with our industry partner, and friend, Janet Kiwia of World Jet Travel. Janet welcomed us to her home on the Indian Ocean, and she and Claudine hit it off right away. Janet shared many ideas for us to explore together and reminded me that four years ago she and I shared a dream to work together to improve opportunities for young people to contribute to the Tanzania tourism industry and she encouraged me to keep dreaming with her. Janet is a friend and advisor to me and I really appreciate it that despite the distances and differences between our countries, we have alot in common.

Janet arranged for us to have a guided tour of the Village Museum in Dar es Salaam which we frequent visit as part of our orientation for new students and faculty from NSCC coming to Tanzania for the first time, to learn about the country, and get some exposure to cultural traditions, food and dance. It was fun to tour the museum with Claudine whose background is in anthropology and sociology and is fascinated with the people here and their culture and traditions.

The scenery on the drive to Mikumi was spectacular yesterday, as the big city faded into the rear view mirror, we passed through rural landscapes, with mountains in the background and the heavy rains started to pour down and cooled the air a bit. We passed through Mikumi National Park on our way to the VETA Mikumi Campus and we were lucky enough to see lots of elephant, giraffe, impala and baboons, and there are even baboons on the campus. We have been able to meet with the tour guiding students and instructors and hope to learn a bit more over the next few days about the students hopes for employment in the national parks and museums of Tanzania.

With all the travel and the hot weather I am feeling a bit sweaty and grimy, and although the air conditioning is working in our otherwise comfortable guest house on campus, the hot water is not. So i might end up spending Valentine’s Day helping Claudine wash her hair with an orange plastic bucket. This should be interesting... plus the light is burned out in the cold water shower stall.... She may have to wear her headlamp while showering with her orange bucket in the dark. This brings a whole new meaning to the Bucket List... Hamna shida (no worries)!

Posted by NSCC Intl 11:52 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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