As everyone knows, I am currently in New York, attending to various matters stateside; then headed to Perth, Australia in just three weeks for the biennial IASE (International Association of Special Education) conference where I will present my paper on teacher training and publicize the 2019 gathering in Lushoto, Tanzania; and finally back to Moshi on July 1st, just in time to celebrate my TEN-YEAR Tanziversary (on the 4th!) with a repeat trip to Zanzibar with Kaitlin just before she leaves Tanzania and heads back to school.  I feel busier than Trump and Magufuli combined!

In my absence, Lil’ K has been holding down the Toa fort on-the-ground like a champ, keeping things moving, and handling any shidas that arise like a BOSS.  Asante, Kaitlin, and well done, young one!

This past week, Kaitlin’s mom Sally arrived in Moshi, spent a day or two in town, and then swept her off on a luxury safari…. which is precisely what one does when one’s parents come to Africa!  Just before leaving for the Serengeti, however, they conducted the May payday with Gasto and the teachers and also ran another one of Kaitlin’s leadership groups.  You’ll recall the first one we did back in March:

Since that initial workshop, we have done a bunch of others, all interactive and physical since the teachers seem to respond better to this type of activity than sitting and listening to boring old speeches.  (Hey, teachers, this is how the students feel too!  So try and make learning fun for them the way Kaitlin has for you!!)

Kaitlin and I co-ran a group in April in which everyone was given a secret word and asked to convey the meaning of that word to the others using any manner of denotation, connotation, or even charades, somehow getting the rest of the group to understand without using the actual word itself.  This exercise was meant to show the teachers that they must always be thinking of different ways to explain a lesson because every child’s mind works differently, and it’s up to us, as “learning support providers,” to adjust to them.

We also did a “make believe you’re an NGO director” exercise in which we split the teachers up into competing groups to come up with a vision and mission, staff and budget, and fundraising plan for their NGO, and present it all to the other groups.  Needless to say, minds were blown when I asked about how they would fund their projects; turns out, raising money is harder than they thought!  The first group to present their NGO proudly told me that they would “find mzungu donors” to support them and I had to quickly disabuse them of the notion that mzungu dollars are plum for the picking.

Kaitlin and Gasto also ran various other groups without me, but all had the common themes of instilling leadership qualities, understanding the value of teamwork, and figuring out how best to support the students who we are supporting.

Last week’s group was titled “Let’s Get Wet!” and involved two teams, each with the goal of transferring water from a full bucket to an empty one using a “tool.”  One team’s tool was a sponge and the other’s was a cup.  The teachers ran relay-style to pass off the tools to each other and get the task done.  Whichever team filled up the bucket the fastest was the winning team, who afterwards was then sent over to the other side and help out using their tool.

So, this exercise had all the hallmarks of workshops past: emphasis on teamwork, communication, goal fulfillment, etc.  In addition, the “tools” were meant to represent our students, the cup being fast learners and the sponge the slow learners.  The idea was to put into perspective what it is like to have a slower processing speed, to take longer to learn a subject or accomplish a particular task, as well as to emphasize the value of what our teachers do to assist the students.

I thought it was just great, and was so pleased to see the video below of everyone participating and seemingly having a good time.  And, I give Kaitlin props for dropping just one lonely F-bomb during the whole three-minute segment.  What can I say, my surrogate daughter has a bit of a potty mouth?!  Don’t know where she picked that up from!!