Today is my first day back in the USA following my teaching stint at Moshi, Tanzania. I spent three weeks traveling the country after I concluded my month at Majengo Secondary School.
This message is in response to a query from you (in late July, I think) asking about my experience with IFRE and the time I spent in Moshi.
I have only positive things to say about my stay in Tanzania. I never had to call on your organization for help because I was given such strong, ongoing support by the Country Coordinator, Mama Alice Mkonyi.
I’d like to offer some further detail about the stalwart job she’s doing for you there.
The accommodations could be fairly described as “no-frills,” but that after all is what one expects in a volunteer job in Tanzania; you know you’re not going to be housed in the Hilton. Alice runs a good, well-managed house, always clean and well-kept. The meals were sumptuous and healthy, and always served at regular times. Each day I was given a box lunch to take with me to school.
The thing I found most praiseworthy about Alice was the special motherly concern she took in the young volunteers who were staying there. She was constantly asking if they had any problems or if there was any way she could help them – and she frequently did just that.
Moshi is her town. She knows all the prominent people in the institutions there: schools, hospitals, orphanages. I can cite a good half-dozen examples of volunteers not being entirely satisfied with their initial postings. Alice was always able, within a day, to find them something better suited to them, thereby making their experience more rewarding. There was no delay on the changes. She has connections and moves fast.
We ate dinner together every night, and I won’t soon forget the warm, family-style atmosphere she created and the wide-ranging, interesting conversations we had. She really cares in a personal way for the people assigned to her.
She had a lot of good advice for the volunteers on things to do and see in the area, and was helpful in suggesting affordable transportation alternatives. She always knew how to get things done in the community. She hooked me up with a safari organizer (somebody she knew!) who turned out to be first-rate and trustworthy in every way.
Moreover, she organized several nights out for dinner that were great fun and really built a spirit of community and friendship among us.
I was a bit over-qualified for the high school I taught at. I’m an upper-level American ESL teacher, and I had to adjust to a setting of large classes and a complete lack of classroom technology. Still, the students and I hit it off and I left with the feeling that I had delivered value to them, improving their grasp of English and stimulating their interest in its possibilities for their future.
So, in conclusion, you can put me down as fully satisfied with the assignment you found for me in Moshi, Tanzania.
With best wishes,
West Columbia, South Carolina
30 October 2018