The conference ended today (but not until after Shawny gave a short presentation) so now we are free to figure out what else we want to see/do/learn before we leave Africa on Saturday. We know that a short safari is definitely on our list, but there are so many other options that we are having trouble choosing priorities. We managed to do a bit of shopping today and Alec and Shane also chased down tons of information about a possible January Term plan for 2011. Their ability to make quick connections and capitalize on them is going to make a big difference for the students who journey to Tanzania next year.
Alec also generated a list of about five really viable options for how he might briefly settle here (for a year or so) and now he can spend the next couple of months narrowing things down and deciding what to do. Shane is starting to fantasize about finding some way to join us if all of the stars align for us to come to Moshi in 2011. Thus, for all of us, we sincerely believe that even though this is our first trip to Africa, it is not our last.
Speaking of stars, the stars in the night sky here are unlike anything we have seen before. All of us have seen the stars from places that didn't have a lot of interfering artificial light, but none of us remembers seeing the stars twinkle as brightly as they do here. They even seem to be multicolored, enough so that we keep thinking we have seen the planet Mars (even though it can't be in all of the places where we think we have seen it at the same time).
We even got to see a brief rainbow in the shadow of Kilimanjaro today, though we didn't manage to catch a legitimate picture to post here.
Our posts are rather thin because our days are pretty long and exhausting. When we get "home" at night, we sit on our balcony and talk about everything that happened during the day and by the time we get through things, we are too tired to do anything but sleep.
Happily, we got the chance to briefly connect with some of our friends out there when Shawny's sister Shelly managed to "skype" in to us in Tanzania from her third-grade classroom in Hanover, Indiana. Our connection was totally unreliable, but we got to look at each other from half a world away and we got to tell each other just a little bit about what is going on for us on continents in totally different hemispheres. What a wonderful world . . .
At the end of the conference, Shawny got the chance to visit a local school run by a Christian Brother (Br. Peter) from the Kilimanjaro Diocese. The school is a "day school" (rather than a boarding school), so it is much more affordable than many of the other educational options that local families might have. All of today's pictures are from that school.
Today was exam day, which marked the end of the term and the beginning of Christmas break. Once school was out for the primary kids, they started running for the gates, at least until they heard someone speaking English along their path.
Once they heard a bit of English, they stopped in their tracks and listened in, trying to say whatever English words they knew all at the same time. Students learn English in school here, but not until the later grade levels.
All of the students were pretty fascinated. And pretty fascinating. (To see a larger version of any of these pictures, you can just click on it to see it at full size.)
A set of 250 or so secondary school students gathered for their semester exam.
The woodpile in the courtyard is the source of heat for cooking at the school. It also serves as a coat rack and bag holder.