Beans & Rice for the Soul

teaching, learning and living around the world

Being a Mwanafunzi Again

Virtually every conversation I’ve had lately involves this exchange at some point:

Them: So you’re a teacher, what are you teaching here?

Me: Well… nothing really yet. I’m just learning for now.

So how exactly am I spending my days? My schedule until mid September will go something like this: Breakfast at 7, drive to town around 8, the Tungane School runs from 9:00 until noon (including what appears to be a whole hour for recess) then I have two hours to each lunch, study, do stuff on my computer, and then from 2:00 until 4:00 I have my Swahili lesson at the Amani Language Center. Between 4 and 5 we head back to the guest house, maybe go for a swim in Lake Kivu, and dinner is at 7.

In the morning at the Tungane School I have solely been observing.  I usually take 4-6 pages of notes about the students, the teacher, what they’re doing, Swahili or French words I hear and want to learn, and lots and lots of questions.  In the past few days I’ve observed lessons in mental math, written math, French vocabulary, French conversation, reciting stories, geometry (basic shapes), and reading and writing Swahili.

During “Recreacion!!!” (recess) I get to test out my Swahili skills on the kids, which is down right hilarious. They laugh at me and correct me with a big smile- and then I CRUSH THEM at dodgeball. (Okay not really, I’m still learning that too- but Madame Beatrice is pretty awesome at it- she’s the one who totally crushes them. haha)

In the afternoon, I get to walk six blocks away to my one on one Swahili lesson. The Amani Learning Center is another one room school with bright blue walls and a simple chalkboard in the middle. Yesterday we learned about basic pronunciation and vocabulary and today we’ll do greetings.

After teaching for three years, I have to say that being a mwanafunzi (student) again is so relaxing!! You don’t have to plan stuff in advance- you just show up, listen, follow, study and practice… I’m loving it. I’ll bring my camera in tomorrow and take some new photos.


4 comments on “Being a Mwanafunzi Again

  1. Sammy Rich
    August 18, 2010


    We have an International church at our church and the Laotians have a very endearing way of welcoming each other, by placing their hands together like they are praying and bowing a bit and saying ….

    Yes, I forget exactly what it is they say, because it is new and different, but the question is do the swahili have a similar practice they use when greeting each other? If so, what is it?

    I will find out the Laotian greeting for sure. I have to write it down.

  2. Lonnie Rich (dad)
    August 18, 2010

    Sara, I love the story of how the kids love correcting you and then you crush them at kickball. That was the way I tried to parent: get you to laugh at me and then crush you at some card game.

    I guess you have heard that Marcia, Meg, Mattie and I are in direct competition with you on learning Swahili — Kabahita is going to be teaching us on Sundays 2 to 4 or 5 — to compete with you we will have to work hard during the week.

  3. sararich
    August 19, 2010

    Yea make sure you bring some cards in December- me and you can CRUSH Meg and Mattie in spades. As for the Swahili competition, if I am somehow surpassed by the peanut gallery (dad, meg, and mattie) after 20 hours/week of immersion and lessons, I will hang my head in shame just like I did after the first semester of college when I earned a 1.90gpa and declared that I was not college material. Ha!

    My predicted language rankings are as follows:

    1. Sara
    2. Marcia
    3. Mattie
    4. Meg
    5. Lonnie

    I put Mattie above Meg because maybe she’ll want to work harder to beat her older sister at something.

    In other news- a Tasok parent is staying at the guest house. I coached his daughter in soccer!! His whole family is coming out to visit Goma this fall- what a hoot!

  4. sallyreams
    August 19, 2010

    Sara, see what you started – TASOK – GOMA connection. Keep us posted about who all you are meeting at the guest house and in Goma.

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2010 by in teaching, travel.
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