Day-to-Day Life in a Small African Village
– By Richard Lupinsky Jr.
– Country: Tanzania
– Dates of Service: 2003-2005
Habari za jioni! Good evening! I have been sitting at my desk and typing into my laptop about all the things that happened to me today. I keep a journal of all my experiences in the Peace Corps so I can remember them when I go home.
My name is Richard Lupinsky and I’m a biology teacher and a school health educator in a small village in Tanzania. There are about 7,000 people in my village. Our secondary school campus, where I live, is next to a big highway. From my house, I can hear big trucks driving up and down the road. The village is in the center of Tanzania between the capital city, Dodoma, and another big town, called Morogoro. Let me tell you all about my day today.
The day started very early in the morning when it was still dark outside. I was sound asleep, nestled warmly in my bed with my sleeping
bag tight around me. A student came out of his dormitory just before 6 o’clock and walked across the school campus. He stood looking at a large tree. The rusty rim from a truck wheel hung from a limb. Suddenly I heard a metallic clang-clang-clang echo loudly in my ear. The boy was striking the rim with a metal bolt, telling the students and teachers it was time to wake up. After the bell, I tried to go back to sleep for a few minutes, but the roosters wouldn’t let me. They kept crowing cock-a-doodle-doo over and over, right outside my window. Well, there was no going back to sleep for me. I opened my eyes and found myself inside a big chandalua, a large square net that acts like a big fort. At night, it keeps me from being bitten by mosquitoes, called mbu, and other bugs, called wadudu. I climbed through the opening of my chandalua and went outside to open up my chicken coop. Three of my kuku, whom I named Larry, Flo, and Shirley, raced out and hungrily pecked the ground for seeds and wadudu. The morning air was fresh and cold as the sun’s rays broke through the banana trees behind my house.
All the students and teachers here must attend a morning assembly every day. Students who don’t live at school ride bicycles from their homes. The older students wear green-and-white uniforms. Younger students wear maroon-and-white uniforms. They sing Tanzania’s national anthem on Monday mornings. It is nice to hear all 250 beautiful voices sing as their black, blue, green, and yellow flag goes up the flagpole. After the singing, Mr. Hassan, the school principal, whom we call the headmaster, made his morning announcement. Today he told the students they must study hard for their upcoming exams.
After the assembly, I walked to the staff room where all the teachers work when they are not teaching classes. In Tanzania, the students stay in one classroom throughout the day. The teachers move around to teach different classes. In the staff room, I greet all the teachers by saying, “Habari za asubuh.” That means “Good morning.” It is important here to greet other people when you meet them, because it shows you respect them.
In Tanzania, high school is called secondary school. I am a secondary school biology teacher. I don’t speak Kiswahili well enough to communicate all the complex ideas about biology. Thankfully, I do not have to teach everything in Kiswahili. Tanzania requires all secondary school students to learn in English, because it is the language of science and business throughout the world.
Tanzanian students get to select what types of subjects they want to study. I teach two different classes.