Education in Africa
One of my favorite and most memorable moments was during the summer of 2014. During the school year of 2013–14 everyone in my highschool was given the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Africa through an organization called World Challenge. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and I decided to take it. I went with fifteen other people from my school and two teachers. The trip was divided into four parts because we went for four weeks. The first week we stayed with a tribe, the second week we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the third week we helped build a school building and went on a safari, and the fourth week we went to Zanzibar, an island off of Tanzania. Traveling to Africa made a huge impact on the way I look at Education and the resources that are available in different parts of the world.
My favorite part of the trip was when we helped build a building, which was basically just a room, in a school yard for a community. Not only did we build another building for them, we got to interact with the children, teachers, and residents from the community. This component of the trip was the most mind blowing because it helped me realize how fortunate the United States is and how lucky I am to be living here. The community’s school yard was set up in a circle of buildings. All the buildings had been built by volunteers that came over to Africa to help this community expand their education system. All the buildings were yellow with blue doors, it was a cute little school. Most of the children wore their uniform which was a yellow, black, green, and blue, striped shirt and mismatched pants. Despite all of the children’s living situations at home they were so happy to be at school learning. The children would come to school with the same clothes on everyday. They would also bring a water pitcher to fill up and take back to their families for clean drinking water after everyday.
Education in Africa was completely different. There were two teachers teaching about one hundred students everyday. Most of the time the teachers were not in the classroom while the older children were working. The students would work by themselves or with each other but it became very strict when the teacher walked in to check on them. Each student had a booklet with all their reading passages or math equations in them. The kids loved to read us the passages because they were just learning and were so proud of themselves. They would run right up to us as we walked into the room. I only knew a few words in Swahili and the students only knew a few words in English so there was a language barrier. I tried my best to understand what they would read. I liked to quiz the kids on different words in english and then if they didn’t know the word I drew a picture of it and then they told me how to say it in Swahili. I learned a lot of new words in Swahili and loved watching them comprehend the meaning of words, by doing this exercise with them.
On the other hand, the younger kids classroom, equivalent to kindergarten in United States, was a little different. It was different because that’s where the two teachers spent most of their time during the day. I believe it is because the children were younger and needed more guidance during the learning process. I also learned that Africa still uses a technique of discipline that the United States retired many years ago. If the kids misbehave they hit them on the wrist with a ruler or some sort of stick. This at times was conflicting to witness but at the same time very interesting to see how different cultures discipline in schools.
Before I went on this trip to Tanzania, school was never really my favorite aspect of life. I felt like I always had to work harder than other kids to get the grade I wanted. However when I went to Africa I realized how grateful I was to have the education oppurtunities I am given in the United States. My school has teachers who have a degree in teaching and know what they are doing. Also, we have the resources necessary to learn. Tanzania’s school was lacking the necessary resouces for students to have any advantages above other people outside of their country. This aspect of the trip made me realize that even though school wasnt my favorite thing, I should be grateful for what my community does have and try harder because of that. Ever since I came back I have looked at education in a different way and see it as a privilege that I should be taking full advantage of.
This event was so memorable because it was so astonishing to see how Africa’s education system works and how different it was from the United States education system. Learning with the kids was uncomparable to any memory I’ve ever had. It was awesome to see children in a different country learn to read and write and be so excited to teach me their way of doing it. It taught me to not take things for granted, to be happy with what I have, and to live life to its fullest. Education has never been my absolute favorite aspect of life but after experiencing how Africa’s education works, I am a lot more grateful for what I learned and have the opportunity to learn. Subsequently I learned so much from this opportunity at this school in Africa, it was unbelievable. I would recommend anyone who has the chance to travel to Africa or to any different country to go because you will learn amazing things about life that stays with you forever.