September 20, 2017: Safari English Club finds a name (Chloe)

We’ve been going through a lot of changes recently. Rob, our student volunteer left a couple of weeks ago. We were all very sad to see him go and he will be missed by the many people he befriended while he was here. Our fingers are crossed he’ll be back next year – and hopefully for longer! Talking to him in his last few days he told me that his time in Zanzibar had been all he could have hoped for and more. He spent his last weekend in Unguja Ukuu. On Saturday we were shown around the village and taken on a culinary tour of people’s homes by 2 of our students, and on Sunday we travelled by dhow to an off shore island where we spent a peaceful and relaxing day. We also said goodbye to our 2 local volunteers who left to concentrate on furthering their education. Latifa and Salma are now busy organising sponsorship for the diploma they want to take in medicine.
And last, but definitely not least, yesterday was Gasica’s last day in Unguja Ukuu before he flies to England this afternoon. Although the teachers and students will all miss him very much, we wish him a wonderful journey and can’t wait to hear all about it when he returns in mid November. Ann and Caroline have been busy preparing an exciting schedule for him. He'll be studying different ways of teaching English, going into many different education settings where he will observe classes and lead assemblies. He will also attend meetings and be a guest speaker at various Rotary events. He is going to squeeze in some sight-seeing in London, Brighton, and Bristol amongst other places, and will be meeting a whole host of people who are very happy to finally have him on English soil after the tough visa process which failed the first time around.
But with all this change we still remain focussed on providing engaging and inspiring education to the youth of Unguja Ukuu. In a meeting with the teachers they told us how happy they are with the project and they have set up an introduction for us with the ministry of education this week. This is a great opportunity for ZSP and should help with arranging visas for future volunteers and with having support for any activities we plan in the years to come.
In our English classes we have been revising the present, past and future tenses, with the aim being that students feel able to switch between the three tenses easily when they need to. We have also been preparing the students for reading books as this is one of the best ways to increase vocabulary. I wrote a story that focuses on three friends, Gasica, Chloe and Sadiq, getting lost in the forest and we used it to show the students how to read a story and translate it and keep a record of the words they do not understand.
The next day we had a very interactive dictionary class, playing lots of games to help the students familiarise themselves with the new dictionaries and how best to use them.
Fun Thursday cemented their dictionary skills as students split into teams for a big scavenger hunt. Many of the things they had to find were new words they needed to look up in the dictionaries before they could hunt for them.
Before the class on Thursday, I spent the morning in the school library choosing over 50 books that are at the right level of English reading for our students. They are now locked in a separate “Safari English Club” bookshelf so we can access them whenever we need to.
“What is Safari English Club?” I hear you say. It is the new name that the students chose for themselves. It’s wonderful to see them taking ownership over the class and we have developed a great tool for getting the students to stop talking and listen in lessons. (Useful when all 60 children are together!). The teacher shouts “Safari” and the students reply “English Club” and then everyone remains silent while the teacher speaks. The students are using it too and so far it’s been working very well.
In another Fun Thursday students designed a logo for the club. We were very impressed and found it hard to choose an outright winner so we have chosen a few different designs we can combine to make a final logo. Watch this space for the finished product.
Last week there was no school due to Eid celebrations. During the first weekend there was a festival on a nearby beach in Jambiani. Gasica took the PLCI students and they stayed there for the three days. On Sunday I drove three of our students to join them. Everyone had such a great time and it was wonderful to see a truly integrated festival. There were strong man, volleyball, cooking and swimming competitions; live music from throughout Africa; and stalls and information on many charities and organisations working on Zanzibar.
During the week Sadiq and I held interviews for Gasica’s replacement while he is away. We were worrying at first as no one had the experience we were looking for or the ethos that is so important for ZSP. It made me realise how the way we teach is really quite rare in Tanzania. Luckily, in the end, we found an ex ZL4LF teacher who we are excited to be working with. His name is Mohamed and he has a long history of teaching and eventually wants to become a lecturer. During the last weekend of Eid we went on a trip to Nungwi. It was the first trip for the new students and Sadiq, who all joined us at the beginning of August. Nungwi is in the very north of the island (probably the furthest place from Unguja Ukuu you can get to without crossing the water!) and the students have been asking to go there for a long time. We arrived in the village and walked along the sea front backed by big tourist hotels to our first stop - the turtle sanctuary. They do very important work educating Zanzibaris on turtle conservation. The most common job on Zanzibar is fishing, especially in coastal villages like Unguja Ukuu. Although turtle poaching is illegal, in reality nobody follows the law. Most people in Zanzibar are on a very low income and killing and selling a turtle can bring a big profit – the turtle meat is considered a delicacy among locals and can fetch a high price in Stone Town. None of the students knew that the turtles were endangered beforehand, and the visit prompted many interesting conversations afterwards.
We also played football, had a mini disco and ate a delicious lunch cooked by 2 of the students... but the highlight for everyone was swimming in the sea. Even though the students live on a paradise island, most of them had never swum in such turquoise water lapping such white sand. Not only that, but our amazing friends Modestly Active had donated swimming costumes for the girls so they could swim in the sea without feeling ashamed or self conscious. I felt quite emotional watching the girls be as free as the boys for the first time. It was very heart warming and the smiles on everyone’s faces are the widest I’ve seen. Throw into that mix the floats Ann and Caroline sent from England and everyone was in swimming heaven! We spent over 2 hours in the water and nobody wanted to get out of the sea when it was time to go home.
We plan to begin proper swimming lessons soon and Gavin, a visitor from Australia, spent an afternoon teaching the older students safety skills and basic first aid in preparation.
The nursery and internet sessions are going well. The nursery children are becoming more used to my presence each day and although they have very different levels of comprehension, some of them are surprising me with how well they are learning. The internet classes are still very popular although sometimes I feel I could do with some new ideas on making the internet a bit more relevant for them all. It can feel a bit dry when we are checking email and browsing sites. If anyone has any ideas I’d love to hear them.