A Pleasant Surprise: By Cadet Derek Littlejohn
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania Africa with the Reserve Officer Training Corps Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency program. We taught conversational English to Tanzanian students, answered questions about ourselves and American culture, and experienced a few educational moments of our own.
One of the first days when we went to teach at Makongo Secondary School in Dar es Salaam Tanzania, we decided to try and teach the students what it meant to follow instructions. We were a little concerned about the lesson plan due to its heavy reliance on class participation. Coming from the American education system where students try their best to avoid participating in class, I feared the worst.
However, to my pleasant surprise, when we asked for several volunteers to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with my fellow teachers, Cadet Daniel Kirkendall of St. Leo’s University and Cadet Abigail O’Connell of Marshall University, several hands went up almost instantaneously. As a result, we threw ourselves whole-heartedly into making the lesson and instructions fun for the students.
After we completed the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and once the students saw how exciting and fun the activity was, many more students were eager to take part in the following demonstrations. Students came up and excitedly explained and demonstrated to their peers how to make traditional Tanzanian dishes such as rice and ugali. Because of their willingness to participate, the time flew by.
An activity that we had anticipated lasting a mere twenty minutes took up the whole hour and ten minutes. With everything ranging from a small smirk to a giant grin, the students were very eager to do everything from boiling rice to mixing flour and water to make ugali, to pretending to eat their created dishes.
At the end of the lesson, the students learned quite a bit on how to give and receive instructions in English. This made me feel that I had actually accomplished something and had made a difference in the life of these students.
Not a bad way to spend the summer, eh?