Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alive and Kicking! Little Things that Drive One Mad!! Classes Start Monday

(picture of residency gate..guard sits in
side all day notice no fence just the gate)

It's the day after our first left hand drive in Dodoma and we are still alive and kicking!  David was a little nervous but I knew with his driving skills and road wits we would do fine.  His left arm (which was broken last year), gave him some problems with the shifter because the linkage is too loose.  But all in all he did great!!  We went north toward the village of Msalato.  On a Sunday there was not the normal traffic and people out on their bikes and walking. I  don't know when we will get a university car again, possibly next Saturday when its not being used for offical business. There are more newly hired employees coming in to live on campus along with students who are arriving every day now into the dorms.  Registration started this week with the usual campus confusions and "I don't have that information".  David and I have not been asked to help this semester because we are so new. Then there's next semester!  It seems to be a very big task especially with the lack of enough trained technical staff and computer programmers.
Back to the drive. After our drive we treated ourselves to the restaurant inside the Hotel Dodoma near the old railroad station.  No one there (No other Westerners due to CAMS School being on break)....we had the place to ourselves on a Sunday.  This restaurant serves very good food for what we think is a reasonable price, $7.00 to $8.00 a dish (In the U.S. the equivalent cost would be $15.00-$20.00.)  They serve a variety so we don't believe we will get bored.  One does need to put up with flies...the restaurant is open on one end into a large inner courtyard where the hotel rooms look out onto a nice garden and outside eating/seating areas.



Last night before prayer meeting (with a few of the staff here on campus) I invited two of our neighbors over for pizza.  Now back home in Colorado or even North Carolina or Georgia (where we have lived before), making pizza is no big deal...but you can forget how difficult doing cooking can be without the right items or in my case conviences.  For example...First, I had to  make the pizza crust from scratch and my flour is of a darker mixture than the refined flour back home.   Second, my measuring cup is in Centimeters which causes big converting problems for me (not a math person).  I'm guessing how much is a cup or 1/3 cup and finding measuring spoons in the markets is impossible.  Third, my wonderful little oven is in Celsius degrees, which until my neighbor explained the right temperatures to use, was a complete mystery to me!  Therefore a few attempts have either gone flat or came out toasty.! Next, to make matters worse I must wash all the veggies and peel the skin off the tomatoes before I slice them.  Now that is a royal pain believe -you -me. 
In addition, the cheese needed to be grated on a grater, mushrooms came in a can (no fresh ones here), and just try finding a pizza pan in Dodoma!  All in all though, the pizza turned out fine.  It's amazing how one can be fairly resourceful when called upon. Our prayer meeting was just right next door so we all walked over and read passages from Isaiah and our neighbor led us in open prayers.

Once arriving in Dodoma to my amazement I discovered that hot water in my kitchen sink is not always reliable due to the city turning off the water at odd times and we have remeber to turn on the hot water tank  a few minutes before use.  Now this does not mean I have the only problem...this seems to be norm due to the water tanks and shortage of running water.  So all over Dodoma in the markets one can find places that sell hot water thermoses.  You just keep your hot dish water in the thermos bottle by your sink to use in your dish water. (Yes, you do need to heat your cold water first in a pot.) Then using a plastic bowl in your sink you fill that with half cold and some hot.  Rinsing is not easy, you either need another good size bowl or must use really cold water from your sink facuet.  I'm getting use to the routine but really miss the one facuet with hot and cold running all together!!  Oh the little things that drive one mad.....!

My Concerns by David
Three things have me concerned.  One, I need to get a watch by next Monday to know when classes start and end, etc.  Two, Charlotte and I are sharing one computer to prepare our coursework.  Three, we need our own printer to check our work quickly, especially at home.  On campus we are connected to the College of Education printer but several faculty use it, meaning much sharing (Am I selfish?).  So far the only kind we have found sold here is about $375.00 U.S. and is heavy duty office use.  Anyone out there  who would like to donate a cheap black and white print, printer?  Color is not a good choice due to finding color refills.
I am in the process of finishing my powerpoints for the courses I am teaching.  I had to rearrange the sequence in one course to make it flow better and edit previous powerpoints to fit other courses.  The one really positive thing is that I have a excellent young Indian women who seems very capable and has flawless English.  She will help me with seminars and will do some lecturing where she feels she has the expertise.

I want anyone who reads this blog to appreciate what is happening here.  This is the unversity's third year and will graduate its first undergraduate class next spring.  The key people here have worked 24/7 to make it happen. It is not easy to start a university on a limited budget (Enrollment this year may grow to 3,000.). They have done a fantastic job! Charlotte and I will do everything we can to help in this wonderful endeavor. But there is much lacking in the day to day supplies of running and keeping up a university.  They could use basic teaching materials such as white dry erase boards, overhead projectors, paper for copiers, copiers themselves, notebooks, binders, shelving for books, desks and chairs for teachers and students, small printers for our personal laptops we use, and in general we need a student book store with used textbooks for rent or sale.  The university moved its library into a renovated building when a wonderful donation of over 80,000 books arrived last year.  They have recently completed renovation of several smaller buildings to house new and old staff from the administration building as well as more classroom space.  This complex was once a boys' secondary boarding school for about 1200 students (800 dorm and 400 day).  The school was built in the 1960's and the campus was given to St. John's U. by the TZ government to get things started.  It sat closed until reopened as St. John's University of Tanzania.  Much repair was needed to many of the buildings.  As of yet, it is still on an  'as needed'  basis when donations arrive.
Pictures are of St. John's main administration building ...more to come as classes start!
This ends this segment.

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