Sam Hicks - Teaching English & Other Subjects in Tanzania
Having already traveled a fair amount around Europe, I had decided that I wanted to visit somewhere a bit further afield for my gap year. In particular, I’d always wanted to go on safari, so Tanzania was the best choice.
Arriving in Tanzania and meeting my host family
After the long journey from the UK, I finally arrived at the small airport near Kilimanjaro. A taxi took me to my host family in a district of Arusha called Sakina. Sakina was a very nice area; the locals were always smiling and eager to talk to you. Children would walk beside you and hold your hands. The general friendliness of Tanzanians was something I came to take for granted, and it was great to stay in a country where everyone is always so happy to help you.
My host family was incredibly welcoming. The three children, whose education meant they could all speak good English, were always chatting and asking how I was, as well as being fascinated with things such as my ipod and phone. They made me feel very much at home.
My teaching placement
After settling in over the weekend, I started teaching on the Monday at Bethel School. It was quite a daunting prospect, especially when I was left for a while on my own with a class of about thirty ten year olds. I was stuck by how basic the school was, especially compared to the one in which I had worked in England before I came to Africa.
The classrooms consisted of desks, chairs, and a black board, but nothing more. However, the children were always keen to learn, and this made my job much easier and incredibly rewarding. I went thinking I would be only teaching English, but I ended up having the chance to help in a number of other subjects too, such as sports and geography. I was also involved in some soccer every week, where I basically got embarrassed by a load of children who were much better than me.
Teaching older students
After two months at Bethel I went to a new placement called the Africelt Foundation. I arrived to find that the staff were members of the band Warriors from the East, who I had coincidentally seen playing every Saturday at a sports bar called Empire. Africelt was not really a school, but a center for language and computing skills for young people, aged between about 15 and 22, who had dropped out of high school and now needed the qualifications that they hadn’t obtained before.
Despite having spent two months already teaching I was a bit nervous standing up in front of a class in which half of them were older than me. However I soon got used to this and ended up really enjoying my time with these older students.
Traveling in Tanzania
During my time volunteering I also did a lot of traveling around with other volunteers that I had met. I climbed Kilimanjaro, went to Zanzibar and went on safari. All three of these experiences were absolutely incredible and I would recommend them all very strongly. It’s so easy to make friends with other volunteers once you are out there as everyone is in the same boat and everyone wants to have a good time. The thing I enjoyed the most was that everything seemed to happen spontaneously. For example, I was invited to join two friends I had made to climb Kilimanjaro with them and in less than a week I was at the first camp.
For the first few days after arriving in Arusha I was nervous and a little overwhelmed at the prospect of spending such a long time away from family and friends. This period is always hard for people who are new to such an experience. However, very quickly I came to really enjoy myself and ended up genuinely not wanting to leave. I have good friends all over the world now and many still in Tanzania. I sincerely hope that I will make it back there to see them again sometime in the future.