Lost in Translation by Viktoria Schäfer

I’m a 24 year old German Student who is studying at the Technical University in Cologne and volunteering in Zanzibar for 4 months. I arrived at the end of July - here are some highlights of my time here so far:

A lot has happened in this short time. When I first got here, I was quickly introduced to the lifestyle of “pole pole” – it translates to “slowly” but it means so much more than that – it’s used to get visitors to slow down and lower their expectations about anything ever happening. The first example is that we didn’t have school my first week here but we only found out the night before as no one was really in the picture!  However, this gave Rubina and me some time to plan and gather everything we would need for the Immersion Camp that was to take place in Kizimkazi. We went out and bought exercise books, pencils, pens and tons of candy to give to the kids whenever they finished a station at the camp successfully.

When the camp came around, we all enjoyed it very much, not just the kids. It was the perfect mix of working and teaching/learning English and free time that gave the kids time to explore the beach, swim in the pool, have dance parties with us and watch movies. I’m hopeful that this weekend will stay in their memory for a long time, not just the learning English but also as a lifetime experience as many of them have never experienced anything like this before.

 At school in Unguja Ukuu, it takes some time to get used to the way of teaching and learning. Most times, you have to switch to a different plan because maybe you have no students as they’re on a field trip or the topics are still too advanced. I find it tough to make proper lesson plans as no one really knows what the kids have been taught already as there are no overall lesson plans and curriculums. So we just go day by day and try to improve their overall level of comprehension and also encourage them to speak in front of the class.

This is something I want to challenge them with every day, so every day I have them write something in the beginning and then everyone has to read it aloud for the class to hear. I’m hoping this will boost their confidence in speaking up and being more comfortable in speaking English.

We also did a Beach Clean Up in Nungwi and Kendwa during last week which was a lot of fun. As the beaches up north are pretty clean of plastic and other rubbish to begin with, we just made our way around the villages and picked up trash on the sideway. We all enjoyed it very much.