A Travellerspoint blog


Making a Connection

NSCC Technical Services at VETA Mikumi 2013

They say there’s a first time for everything. Well, my writing a blog is one of them.
As I sit here in my room at VETA Mikumi thinking about the past week, I’m surrounded by the noises close by; to my left, people talking as they walk in and out of the kitchen area. To my right, sounds of clanging dishes, possibly being washed in a sink. Both in their own way reflect the learning happening around us, and instead of being a distraction from this blog they are actually contributing to it. Amazing.
So, where do I begin?
Being an unseasoned traveller with a measurable dislike of air travel, the opportunity to be part of this team was too great to give up for such a minor reason. Grin and bear it are the words that come to mind. And yes, I am glad I did. The friendship and genuine desire to learn was apparent when I met those who travelled to Canada for CCEDP in 2010 and 2011. It was surprising how quick we became friends. And remembering those people played a part when I was asked to join the trip this year to Tanzania. It would be nice to see them all again.
What have I learned since our adventure began? For one, I now know to expect breakfast, lunch and supper within a 3 to 4 hour span when changing time zones from west to east. Bring plenty of tums. I’ve also learned that my Tanzanian friends haven’t changed at all. They are still the friendly, caring people I remember, all sharing the same appetite to learn.
I’ve also learned much about the computer network here. The work that Dave Arthur and Darlene Redmond did in 2011 can be seen throughout the server room, language lab, ICT lab and what I call the business class lab where they learn Microsoft Office apps. The down side to this is that the Internet Service Provider here stopped providing that service last August so there has been no internet connection for the network here since then.
We did have good network news this week though. One of our wireless solutions began providing wireless access to the internet, and you could almost feel the excitement as people connected their devices to the Net. It’s simply a mobile wifi device that accesses the internet through cellular, and can provide access for up to 8 different devices at a time. Although small, I would consider it mighty. And it’s most certainly a step in the right direction. I understand we will be purchasing another similar device, so it’s possible that one may be used to provide internet access in the Tourist Information Centre, while the other may be used in the Administration Block. We also brought D-Link devices that would provide access much the same however they need compatible wireless sticks (the ones we had weren’t compatible).
I’ve also been in touch with Dave and Darlene through email and they have given me suggestions on how to get some server problems fixed. Access to the Wordpress and Moodle apps which were installed on the server halted in June 2012 so I will attempt to repair them before leaving Tuesday.
It’s difficult to put into words just how so little can have such a huge affect here. From an IT perspective, these simple wireless devices we’ve provided will allow much needed internet access to information that, for the past 6 months, has been unreachable. The new tablets that have been distributed will be able to update wirelessly, and from what I’ve seen, they are a tool that faculty and students here will constantly use to teach and learn.
I can’t close and finish this blog until we leave Tanzania so I will leave it open ended and for the time being will sign off saying “to be continued.......”

Paul Tweed
Technical Services
NSCC, Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 03:52 Archived in Tanzania Tagged education it tanzania international nova scotia ict Comments (2)

Walk Up the Hill

NSCC Library Services in Mikumi Tanzania 2013

Yesterday we climbed the hill on Mikumi Campus. Guided by Saronga, the Tour Guiding Instructor who has been accompanying us during much of our stay here, we stopped at different work shops on the way. Bricklaying, carpentry, and secretarial. We met faculty and students and even had an impromptu instructional session with a few faculty and the Nexus tablets we brought with us. We continued up the hill to a narrow steep dirt and rock path that carried up between strange trees. At the top, the view of Mikumi village and the surrounding mountains was beautiful. It is strange to see so much green and lushness after being in Nova Scotia winter for months. Saronga’s office and classroom are both on the top of the hill – surrounded by the stunning views and sounds of the countryside. We attended his class where he gave his students, and us, a lesson in vertebrate and invertebrate taxonomy. He is begninng his lessons with his students by explaining the importance of plants and animals and our relationships with them. After his lesson I introduced the Nexus tablets explaining them as small, portable libraries. And we broke into small groups with the students and demonstrated how to use the eBooks and Tour Guiding Apps. They loved the tablets and had many questions about how to use them, they learned quickly and soon looked like experienced users.
They seemed to really love learning and asking me questions about Canada and what I thought of Tanzania. They show such genuine happiness and interest, it is incredible.
Tanzanians have big smiles, and they are given often. They say hello for ages and in many different ways, hand shaking the whole time. Much is made of asking “how are you” and saying “you are welcome”. It is wonderful, the kindness is as warm as the sun. I have not yet figured out “farewell” or “goodbye” as “hello” and “welcome” seem more impotant. I can see why though – I think it ill be very difficult to say goodbye to these people and this place. I already feel at home.

Leigh Gagnier
Electronic Services Librarian

Posted by NSCC Intl 07:32 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania nova scotia ebooks resources electronic libraries Comments (0)

South Shore Public Libraries Partner with NSCC in Tanzania

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I know it's silly but I still get excited when I receive a text on my phone. So just imagine the scene when I got a text from South Shore Public Libraries CEO, Troy Myers, telling me to get my immunization shots updated. That's how I found out that SSPL was participating in the last phase of NSCC Internationals' EFE in Mikumi, Tanzania and I was going to Africa.

The purpose of SSPL's involvement in the project was to help with a library needs assessment, test the accessibility of electronic resources, provide training on Internet source evaluation, and to share social media information. We did this as a part of the team from NSCC that included NSCC International Director Katie Orr, NSCC Library Services Director Andrea Stewart and NSCC Media Specialist Kellie McMullin, SSPL Chief Librarian and CEO Troy Myers and me, Christina Pottie Outreach Coordinator at SSPL.

After a series of long flights we arrived in Nairobi enroute to Dar es Salaam, even though it was almost dark, only a runway tarmac, and still another hour's flight from our destination, you couldn't wipe the grin off my face; I was in Africa. Something that I had never imagined would happen.

This trip was amazing! Tanzanian people are very welcoming and the staff and students at VETA Mikumi were amazingly warm and welcoming hosts. It began from the first moment when we were greeted with a bone-crushing hug from the student on duty at the reception desk and continued with greetings of "Karibu" repeated over and over again wherever we went.

The highlight of the trip for me was to see how passionate people were about what they are doing at VETA Mikumi. Whether it was the conversations with faculty or chats with students everyone believes in what they are doing and learning at the campus, that this education will make a difference in their lives and ultimately their country. Hearing the students, at the 7 am assembly, singing the National Anthem as the flag was raised gave me goose bumps.

This project allowed us to live out the mission statement of South Shore Public Libraries in a tangible way, while we in Mikumi Troy, myself, and the whole NSCC team truly "Celebrated Reading, Discovering, Learning and Sharing". I want to sincerely thank NSCC International for inviting us to be part of the team and the South Shore Public Libraries Board of Directors for endorsing this partnership and project. My travel companions were incredible and the experience from start to finish has made me a much richer person. When and where can we do this again?

Christina Pottie
Outreach Coordinator
South Shore Public Libraries

Posted by NSCC Intl 12:19 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Read All About It!

Assessing Library Services at partner institution VETA Mikumi

DSC_4223.jpgWhen Katie Orr, Director, NSCC International, brought forward the opportunity for NSCC Library Services to participate in the final stages of the EFE project with VETA Mikumi in Tanzania, I was flabbergasted. It hardly seemed real until I set foot on Tanzanian soil and was on the road to Mikumi. The purpose of the trip was for me and two members of the South Shore Public Libraries, Troy Meyers (CEO) and Christina Pottie (Outreach Coordinator), to perform a library needs assessment in partnership with the faculty at VETA Mikumi Campus and make recommendations for the future development of a library to support the students and faculty of the campus. In addition, our goals for this trip included testing the accessibility of electronic resources from our respective library systems and to provide training on Internet research techniques.
We arrived at the airport in Dar es Salaam the night of June 3rd where we were warmly greeted by Mr. Moshi, Director General of Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA). We spent the night in Dar to rest up from our long flight and then set out for Mikumi the next morning with Christopher Ayo (Principal, VETA Mikumi). On our journey, we had the good fortune to be able to visit both a public library in Morogoro (98 kms from Mikumi) and the library at the Morogoro Vocational Teacher College (VTC). This helped us put into context the level of library services available in other areas and to determine if there might be possible future partnerships between these libraries and VETA Mikumi.
Upon arrival at VETA Mikumi that evening we were warmly welcomed and settled into our accommodations on campus. We’re told we’re lucky to be visiting in winter when it’s not quite as hot. I say bring on the heat because those who know me, know that I’m always cold back home. The next day we were introduced to the faculty and set to work to learn all we could from our hosts. The existing library at VETA Mikumi consists of a small collection of print materials which do not adequately support the students and faculty at the present time. In regard to collections, NSCC Library Services and the South Shore Public Libraries investigated expanding access to wider range of resources by connecting VETA Mikumi to electronic resources (e-books, e-journals and open educational resources) pertinent to their curriculum. After spending time testing and troubleshooting with the help of Chrizostem and Joseph, we had great success in connecting to the electronic resources available in our libraries. In regard to NSCC Library Services in particular, this allows the faculty at VETA Mikumi, who have been enrolled in CCEDP, to access resources to support their continued professional development as well as ongoing curriculum development. In addition to testing and troubleshooting the accessibility of e-resources, the team helped in setting up ESL language training software in the Language Lab and provided training sessions on downloading e-books, evaluating resources on the Internet and a demonstration of the Blackberry Playbook tablet. The Blackberry Playbooks were presented to the faculty for use as a support in their teaching. For example, Ludovic Saronga, a tour guiding faculty member, immediately saw the benefit of using the video recording application as a training tool with students out in the field. He demonstrated this on a tour of the Mikumi National Park where we were guided by Saronga, Patrick and several of their tour guiding students. One of the many highlights of the trip!
I’m pleased to say we were successful in achieving our outcomes for this visit and have come away from the experience with a greater appreciation of the challenges the campus faces in terms of Internet connectivity. I certainly learned that patience is the key and going with the flow is an essential skill in working with the sporadic network connections. However, everyone remains positive that Internet access will improve in the near future with the running of fiber optic cable along the highway from Dar es Salaam.
Our next step for this portion of the project is to complete a report of recommendations for a low cost, flexible solution for a library/learning commons based on the requirements outlined by Principal Christopher Ayo and the faculty.
Asante Sana to NSCC International for this wonderful opportunity and rich learning experience, to my colleagues at South Shore Public Libraries for a rewarding and successful collaboration and to everyone at VETA Mikumi for welcoming us to your campus and taking time out of your busy schedules to work with us.

Andrea Stewart
Director, NSCC Library Services

Posted by NSCC Intl 11:48 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania library nova scotia e-books Comments (0)

To Mikumi and Beyond. . .

Bringing Social Media Marketing Strategies to Tanzania

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When thinking of cost-efficient and effective ways of marketing today, the use of social media is at the forefront. When challenged with the need of marketing tourism in rural East Africa, social media once again, is where we landed.
NSCC has been partners with the Vocational Training Centre in Mikumi Tanzania (VETA Mikumi) for three years now through an EFE project building capacity in tourism training. Through this project, the students, faculty and administration at VETA Mikumi have established a Tourist Information Centre (TIC) on campus to help provide information on their conference centre facilities as well as the surrounding tourist attractions and amenities. The challenge then became how to attract tourists to the TIC and Mikumi in general.
Although there are still several network problems in Tanzania and internet and electricity can’t always be depended on social media sites, especially Facebook, are in high use. The first phase of the marketing strategy thus became establishing a Facebook page promoting the TIC at VETA Mikumi. Faculty and students will add content to the page and help administer it. Links, photos and videos of local hotels and restaurants as well as information on the nearby national park will be added to the page. Eventually we hope to have the Facebook page linked to other websites such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet to help drive potential visitors to the page.
During my time in Mikumi in early June, I was able to share the Facebook page with the faculty and administration as well as the plans for future social media marketing. I also had the pleasure of spending some time with a dynamic young woman, Grace Kabogo, who is newly in charge of marketing for the entire VETA system in Tanzania. We were able to discuss a strategy for her to use Facebook, blogs and Twitter to help promote the VETA Centres around the country to potential and current students. Let’s just say it wasn’t long before Grace and I were friends on Facebook.
Overall our mission was a success and I left Mikumi a little dusty and tired but encouraged by the potential we have to share information with an institution such as VETA Mikumi through social media. Tanzania and Nova Scotia may be geographically far apart, but I’m feeling incredibly connected after this experience. Join the VETA Mikumi TIC Facebook group today at www.facebook.com/MikumiTourism

Kellie McMullin
NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 11:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania marketing nova scotia media social facebook Comments (0)

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