Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back to School..and Cement Minature Golf

School is starting at St. John's University on Monday, October 19th.  Not all the new staff have arrived in either of our departments.  Due to the economy and just Tanzanian cultural attitudes the first week here we have been told will get off with  a slow walk.  Most students will arrive during the week for the dorms or as a day student. Registration was this past week but only about 400 new students showed up to register.  David's curriculum class will be the highest with perhaps over 400 students in the largest of the lecture halls.  I may only have as many as 130 students in my one class on English Grammar and that will be held in a smaller lecture  room.  Each of us will have smaller cluster classes during the week relating back to our larger lectures (two in all) that was given to the total group.  In each seminar we have an assistant who will help grade and actually review the main lecture material with students.  These assistants will attend at least one lecture during the week and consult with us reguarding attendance, questions they might have and any other confusing topics.
This system is not perfect but due to the lack of qualified teachers living here in Tanzania  for many of the subjects it is the best alternative St. John's has at the moment.  David and I will know by the end of two weeks how effective our teaching and this new system of departing knowledge will be. 
During last week the campus began to come alive.  Students started moving into the dorms near our apartment, local Tanzanian professors started appearing and new students arrived everyday for orientations.
Despite the lack of a book store and textbooks, most students I have met appear eager to learn and ready to start.  St. John's ability to educate these students will rely solely on the professors and their oral lecture notes. Much of the learning in primary and secondary schools was done this way.  (We are awaiting another shipment of textbooks that may allow more copies available in the library.)  It takes time for cargo to get to Tanzania, get processed and then shipped overland to Dodoma These notes and other information needed to understand the topics taught, especially in the sciences and  pharmacy, will be available at the photocopy shop on campus. Here the students must drop by and purchase a copy of the lecture notes and other materials available through the instructor. Textbbook are not available for purchase currently.  We have provided several copies of selected texts that lectures are based and have those copied and bound for the library.  These are put on two hour reserve and not allowed to leave the library.  Both of us will be using our prior knowledge and the few textbooks we brought with us.  Students are required to bring paper, pencils or pens to class.  As for our teaching equipment David will have a projector for his power points due to the size of his classes.and also a microphone.  I on the other hand will have a chalk board, chalk and talk loud..
Wish us luck this week...and say a prayer!
Sunday we visited a putt-putt golf course and pizza place!  Our English (UK) neighbors down the road with two small children offerred to take us out for pizza and golf.  On a Sunday afternoon we were the only people there (except for three Japanese young men).  I don't think the concept of putt-putt has caught on here in Dodoma.  Really its more like cement golf.  Because of termites any wood in the ground is goobled up quickly and carried off for their building material.   We all had a lot of fun especially the children, who ran around all over the course to play.  This entertainment center even had grass, wonderful watered flowers and shrubs and an outside bar.  I certainly hope it is successful....Dodomaians I am sure would love to experience
"silly golf" as our UK family called it. Oh yes the pizza was really good also.
Just a foot note here.  We have now been without water for two full days now.  Today David and I both braved using bottled water to wash out hair.  Our buckets of water are running out and its getting harder to cook and clean up.  I was told that this is a decision that the water company makes to conserve water.  I would have thought that the college would be exempt from this policy but I guess not.  Hopefully the water will be back on tomorrow...or we must buy more bottles of water.
PS:  No pictures for awhile our camera died and no one can repair a camera  in Dodoma!
Charlotte and David

1 comment:

donnagidley said...

Maybe it will start raining soon! Sounds like you may have moved up on the adjustment scale. Miss you...