Updates Since May

Well, it seems that this blog has become quite far from my thoughts. I’ve gotten quite settled into my life here, and these days have been thinking of America more as a distant place and a future possibility rather than as an immediate reality.

Here are the year’s updates since May:

Installations & Training

Aside from a few schools, the majority of installations were greatly delayed. Eventually they got going in earnest, and several days ago computers reached the town I live in!

If you’ll recall, my official position on this project was to live in this town and to help the local teachers use their computers, which were to be installed in January. Needless to say, things have turned out a bit differently!

My Activities

During this time when there have been no computers and I’ve been unable to do my “official” work, I’ve been doing what other project work has been available, with the goal of helping move the project along towards being ready to conduct the installations. At times it has kept me busy, but for the most part I’ve had a lot of extra time on my hands.

I’ve been going into the local government education office, where I have a desk, mostly just to keep in touch. When I haven’t had project work to do there, I’ve read books – mostly nonfiction, including war memoirs, books by the Dalai Lama, books about Gandhi, and books about education in the US. And of course I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those books, and about life in general.

There is a hospital in my town, and lately I’ve been going there periodically to do work on their computers, which had been without maintenance for a long time.

The project computers got here just a few days ago, while I was traveling (more on that in a bit). The other day I went to the local school where they have a teacher training center (which is where I was officially going to be working this year) to check in and make contact, but the center’s coordinator is out this week receiving training in coordinatorship from the project. So I’ll go again next week. I’m very interested to see how this turns out with the limited time I have left here.

Another Visit To My Old Site

I went again to visit my old site, which is why I was away when the computers came. It was wonderful to see everyone and everything again, and to visit the places I lived for two years. I got to say my final goodbyes, and to exchange contact information with everyone.

And on the way back down to my new site, I stayed in Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania’s largest city) for a couple of days with two of the three other remaining volunteers from my original training group. (Service is usually two years, and only four of us chose to extend our service for a full third year.) It was great to see them again.

The Future

My service is nearing an end! On December 8th I’ll travel up to Dar Es Salaam to make my final close-of-service arrangements, and then on December 16th I’ll board a plane to the US. It’s surreal. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog post that America felt like science fiction when I visited for a month in December-January. I am serious when I make that comparison. I’ve changed a lot in the past three years, and have grown accustomed to a Tanzanian/rural lifestyle. Sprawling first-world cities, and first-world technologies, are downright strange!

That said, I’m keen to see everyone, and to reacquaint myself with the US with my new perspectives, and to get settled into my long-term life plans.

Starting in January, I’m going to be taking some courses at PSU – prerequisite mathematics courses for a graduate program that I’d like to start in 2015. It should take me two terms to complete the prerequisites.

Afterwards, I’ll have over a year before the grad program starts. During that time, I’d like to serve in AmeriCorps VISTA, a.k.a. “the domestic Peace Corps”, which has a one-year service time. It involves living and working in poor areas of the US, at the same financial level as those one serves. I’m eager for it, and excited for all of the things I’m sure to learn from it.

Then I’ll start the graduate program, which is a two-year teaching certification-and-master’s program. It is a mixed general-education and special-education program, with a focus on learning each individual student’s strengths and weaknesses and special needs, and teaching in a way that reaches all of one’s students and doesn’t leave out the more difficult ones, and doing this regardless of whether it’s officially a special education class or not. It’ll certify me to teach math in middle or high school, and I’m excited for it, as I greatly enjoyed teaching during my time at my first site, but it’d be really nice to be able to teach in English, and in a setting and culture that I understand, and while knowing how to teach well.

After that, I hope to become a teacher of course, probably in the US, and probably in an area where the education system needs help, which tend to be the poor areas. One thing that’s struck me about my Peace Corps service is how much better life is when one feels like one has a mission/purpose and is living and working for a really worthwhile cause, and I hope to continue to do that.

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