It has been awhile since I posted on the blog, but that is because we have been busy doing lots of things and getting ready for the semester to start. Some are more touristy-type things and some were just routine things to move the work forward. We have also enjoyed meeting new people from different organizations over the last few weeks.
On the touristy side (I don’t want to say more fun side because the research pieces have also been fun), we spent last weekend with our friend Caroline who was visiting from Dar es Salaam. She and her husband were our closest friends when we lived in Lushoto in 2008-2009 and we spent a lot of time with them and their family then. She came to Zanzibar for work and we got to learn more about what she is doing now and some organizations that she is involved with. In Lushoto, she also worked at the Rainbow School where I did my dissertation, but she worked with the Outreach Program. Now, she is in Dar again working with the Lutheran Diocese and starting a new vocational training center for youth with disabilities to provide job skills and employment opportunities. She came to Zanzibar with a group of Germans who were filming projects in this area for a documentary. I will share more on the projects and activities in my next entry. We did have a lot of fun meeting new people and learning more about the work of the German film crew. One of the men was a freelance journalist and another was a photographer and videographer, so Keith very much enjoyed talking about photography and media with them.
We also tried a another restaurant here for the first time this week, La Taperia, with tapas and sandwiches and the food was outstanding. The calamari was so fresh and delicious. And we bought mangos and watermelon and I carved them for snacks. Since I normally buy the pre-cut fruit in the supermarket, I found this to be quite an accomplishment, especially because I didn’t waste much due to my poor cutting skills.
And this week, I finally got started on my research. I went to visit six prospective schools that are all within walking distance of our house. Right now, I don’t have any new pictures of the schools, because I was just doing the meet and greet with principals and school leaders to get permission for my research. Everyone was very welcoming and my colleague who escorted me and introduced me to teachers and principals was very helpful. As we find in Boston, he also knew teachers at several of the schools, either through a personal connection or mostly because teachers were also students in the SUZA education programs. Each of these schools are different, but all have preschool classes (ages 4-6 here), but some are also primary schools. They represent the three different types of preschool programs: government, community-based Madrasa, and private schools. I was very grateful to my colleagues at SUZA for their work in getting me my government research permit. It was interesting to see how important that document was for entry, but also how that document allowed access and cooperation with my approved research topic and methodologies. When I am done with my research, I also have to provide reports to the government and follow all the guidelines, but that is also part of the exchange of ideas and I welcome the feedback from the government on my findings.
Yesterday, I went to the university campus in Tunguu where I will be teaching for this school year and participated in the orientation for new students in the early childhood, inclusive education, and physical education diploma programs. The pictures below of the orientation were taken by my colleague Umayra Said.
I also received an office and found the classroom where I will be teaching one of my classes.
In the last few weeks, I have gained a new appreciation for what it is like to be an adjunct or part-time faculty member. For the last five and a half years in my position at UMass Boston, I have been a program director and in charge of schedules, information, syllabi, and other details. Although I also had to learn the system there, I have spent most of my time being the person who gave information and answered the questions from part-time faculty and addressed issues. Everyone here has been very welcoming and helpful, but sometimes I didn’t realize that I had a question or needed something until I was trying to address a problem and I needed assistance here to solve it. I am not in charge. I don’t mind that, but then I am dependent on others as our adjunct faculty are on myself and the other program directors to help them on all kinds of issues like how can I get a site for putting up links and documents, where do I print and copy things, and how do I get a projector for my classroom? We have some of the same scheduling issues to deal with here with times and rooms, but on Monday classes will start and learning will commence. This year on Facebook, my colleague Kristin Murphy, talked about the new semester excitement and jitters that she feels every time even though she has been doing it awhile. I am feeling that excitement and the jitters for my next week, but I can’t wait for this new adventure.