Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14, 2013 - Dance Girl

Grace loves to dance, and when she turned 4 she could finally join the dance class offered after school by two Norwegian teachers who are also professional dancers.  She loved the class!  And yesterday was their "show" to end the semester.  There were 5 dances, and Grace's group were supposed to be fishes, so you can see them wearing "fins".  

I had some camera trouble so there aren't many still photos (and she was moving all the time!), but that video is pretty cute!


She was very proud, especially after being "a little nervous."  At the end, Noah gave his big sister a small bouquet of flowers (which he didn't even know he was going to do!) and when I put her to bed last night the only thing she said about her show was, "It made me really happy that my brudder gave me flowers."  I think that bought him a little bit more forgiveness the next time he bites her :)


Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013 - Education in Tanzania

I have started to look into possibilities for more regular work here in the education sector of development.  There are no specific job prospects out there but I am circulating my resume and talking to a few people, so that is good.  And from the research I did intially when we moved here and I applied for a few different jobs with development partners coupled with some of the conversations I am having and things I am reading now, it is clear that the system of education in this country is so deeply flawed that I actually wonder how and when it will ever change. 

A fellow expat blogger recently wrote about corporal punishment.  You might recall from our Kenyan days that while I was proud of Kenya for making corporal punishment illegal, I was appalled at how widespread the practice still was (blogged here).  Well, in Tanzania they tried outlawing corporal punishment but recently decided to reinstitute the practice legally.  One reason they gave is that with 70% of students failing their national exams (which the government has recently decided to just nullify altogether) those students must be doing so poorly because they were NOT threatened by the cane!  In order to perform well in school, people here honestly believe that the students must be caned.

And when you meet adult Tanzanians, if you find them to be conflict-averse, good at following instructions to the letter (when they understand the instructions) but unable to critically or creatively think for themselves...they are very likely to have been students in the country's public schools.  I don't know if it is the same in private schools...but if Tanzania is anything like Kenya the problem exists there as well.

I am not trying to offend Tanzanians...who we find to be friendly and kind and not nearly as brusque as Kenyans...because it is certainly through no fault of their own. We interviewed a cook this weekend (who we are considering hiring) who is from Malawi and he has lived here for 20 years. He still sends his children back to Malawi for public school because, even though Malawi is a poorer, less developed country, he believes their education system is much better than Tanzania's.  Corruption is a very big part of the problem here and it is a sad state of affairs for sure.

As my blogger friend writes,
"If you were trying to design an educational system to more efficiently drive creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning out of students, you would have a hard time topping Tanzany."


Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 4, 2013 - Future Banker

Very rarely does a day go by when I haven't wished at some point to have a recording of all conversations that take place in our house.  It would be so helpful when Kristoffer and I disagree about who said what (I asked you to...No you didn't!...) but mostly I want it because the things that these children say are just so priceless.  The saying, "Kids say the darndest things..." was invented for a reason.  

To set this particular scene: it was about 6:20 am yesterday.  Kristoffer had just left for work and I was sitting at the table eating breakfast with Grace and Noah.  


Grace:  I want to go visit Niko. [she still very much misses her cousins who have gone back to Denmark] I think we have to take a big airplane to get to Denmark.  When can we go?

Me:  Well, it costs a lot of money to fly to Denmark and I don't think we have all that money right now, so it might be a long time.

Grace:  How much does it cost?

Me:  Tickets for the airplane probably cost more money than you can even think of.

Grace: *thinking...thinking...* Ok, I have a great idea.  Noah and me have some money in our piggy banks.  You can use that to help buy tickets.

Me:  Wow, Grace.  That is very nice of you to share your money.  

Noah:  Me money.  Airplane Nene's house.  [Noah talks about going to Nene's house at least once a week.]

Me:  Wow, Noah.  You want to share your money to buy tickets for an airplane to go to Nene's House?

Noah:  Yeah. Now.

Me: Ok, well I think now is too soon.  But how about Mama and Far will save some more of our money and when we are close to having enough we can use the money from your piggy banks to help buy the tickets.

Grace: Yes........but then you have to give the money back!


So much for giving - she was offering me a loan!  I'm just glad she hasn't figured out about interest yet!