Teaching in Zanzibar
Mariah Thomas ’19 spent six weeks this past summer teaching on the island of Zanzibar, a region of Tanzania in eastern Africa. Mariah, a Human Development major and student in the Elementary Education Certification Program, is also an Hispanic Studies minor and student-athlete on the women’s tennis team. She recently shared some details with us about her experience.
What did she teach?
“I had the opportunity to teach English as a second language and geometry-based mathematics at two separate private schools. I was able to teach three classes, each filled with nearly fifty students.”
What was her daily life like?
”One of the two schools I taught at was located right on the water, a few-minutes walk from the apartment I lived in with eight other WAC students. My walk became routine. I would say ‘jambo’ (hello) to the taxi men at the corner and continue on through alleys of chickens and cats….Shortly after I was chatting with co-teachers in the staff room, sharing their pilau (a traditional dish of rice, meat, and potatoes that is eaten only with one’s hands) and grading my students homework.”
“After teaching in the morning at the local school, I was driven out of town to a much more rural and developing community known as Mwanakwerekwe. There I taught geometry to one class, and I was able to make guest appearances in other classes.”
What were the schools like?
“The Zanzibari school systems are quite different than those of our public schools in the United States. Instructors strictly use blackboard and chalk to display information that accompanies lecture-based instruction. It took tedious repetition of examples and directions to work through my ‘funny accent’ with my students.”
“One of the two schools I taught at was located right on the water, a few-minutes walk from the apartment I lived in with eight other WAC students….My classroom at Tumekuja Secondary School had many windows that opened up to the warm ocean breeze. The view never became as routine as my walk did, invigorating and refreshing my classroom experience every day.”
“Teaching in Zanzibar was truly an experience I will never forget. Living and learning another culture that is starkly different from my own has certainly been life-changing….Zanzibar will forever have a piece of my heart and I look forward to sharing all my stories with my family, friends, and future students.”