As I was writing in my journal today, something I do almost every day, I began to think about reflection. I started to think about how reflection is such a huge part of my life as a volunteer. Reflection keeps me moving. It reminds me where I came from and how much I have gone through to get through this point. As any education volunteer can attest, our success as volunteers is not usually a concrete, physical thing. We are not building chicken coops, starting widow support groups or digging gardens. As education volunteers we are molding young minds...planting seeds, we hope, for fruits we will never see. Don't get me wrong, occasionally we see the fruits of our labor, library projects, English proficient and HIV/AIDS clubs. The real difference we may never see, we can only hope. So, how does reflection help with this? Reflection allows me to believe, it allows me to put faith in something I cannot see. (Many of you will know how hard this is for me). I have to reflect to see the change; and the small change I do see from when I started teaching my students until now allows me to believe that I am making a difference. It may be just a small seedling, but it is there. This reflection has also caused me to reflect on life in general, but I will not bore you with those details now. Let's just say I am not the same person I was before this experience, for better or worse.
So, it is Monday here, one of the last few and the school is being taken over by people from the ministry of magic... I mean education. They are inspecting our school to make sure our teachers are teaching, schedules are in order and the school is basically functioning. I always find these visits amusing because they are getting, what I refer to as, the beauty queen version of our school. Our school is clean and tidy when they arrive, papers are in order, teachers are present and in the classrooms and the students are doing what they are supposed to be doing. We are pageant ready. On any other day, half of the teachers are at school, paperwork is not complete and the students are around the classrooms. We look as if we woke up, forgot to put on make up and blow dry our hair before heading to Starbucks. I do not mean to critique my school because even schools in America do this. You would think we would all learn that being prepared pays off. Some where in the months between ministry visits, we just tend to forget what it is like to run around like decapitated chickens, or maybe we just like the thrill?
This weekend I went to town to print some paper for our girls' conference and see a few familiar faces. On my way back to site, around 4:30 pm, I jumped on a coaster and was forced to sit next to a very drunk Tanzanian. Within five minutes he had professed his love to me in front of everyone on the bus and drooled on my leg. Honestly there is nothing I can resist more than a man who can proclaim his love while smelling like gin, but I knew I had to restrain myself. I mouthed to one of the mamas next to me of me, “amelewa” [ he is drunk], which she decided to blab to the whole bus. Now I had about twenty people laughing at me and one mad, drunk man sitting next to me. By the grace of something, the man was moved the row behind me and after calling me a slew of dirty names, because I turned down his marriage proposal, he passed out. When he awoke twenty minutes later he was asking/yelling at the woman next to me to sell him small packets of booze (She didn't have any). At this point people on the bus got pretty pissed off, the drunk man started to verbally harass me again, and the conductor threatened to ditch him at the next stop. All the while I could not help but think how I would have dealt with the situation when I first came to country; drunk people in public during the day are usually hard to come by in the states and you are rarely forced to sit next to them for the better part of an hour. I can now confidently say that after two years ignoring things and people has become a honed skill, one I am grateful to have acquired here.
Really not much else to write home about. I have spent the majority of the last few weekends at my site enjoying time to myself. This, of course, leads me to wonder how I will do when I return home. There will be people I can interact with normally at all hours of the day and very little time will actually be spend like most of my time here – completely alone. It will be interesting to see how I readjust to being around familiar people all the time, lots of familiar people. I guess time will tell.
Health update: Last weekend food poisoning, or just really bad stomach cramps and a fever struck again. Laid me out for a few days and put me on a bland food diet. I have honestly lost count of the number of time I have been sick here... too many to count, but nothing that soda and biscuits cannot fix, right? Maybe I will have a stomach of steel when I get home?
As always I hope everything and everyone is well at home. Best of luck to Jordan, who will be racing at IRAs this coming weekend and Brown Women's Crew, who will be defending their national championship at NCAAs this weekend as well. I will have row2k on refresh. Congratulations to my cousin Erin on her upcoming wedding. I am sorry I could not be there. I hope you have a wonderful day! Lastly I am counting down the days until my mom's visit!!! Soo excited! Only a few more weeks!
All my love from TZ!