Parker in Africa - January 21, 2006
Dear Friends and Family,
I finally arrived in Tanzania after four days of traveling. When I flew to Washington, I found out that my flight to Africa didn't exist, and I had to wait until the next day. I guess it kind of showed me that I would be living on a different schedule. I eventually made it, after a night in D.C. and a night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and there was a group waiting for me at Kilimanjaro Airport.
So far I've been in Africa for about two weeks, and I'm still alive and doing fine. There have been many surprises these past two weeks, seeing that I knew so little about my situation before arriving, but I am slowly getting adjusted. Actually, I have been so ready for the unexpected that I am surprised by little.
As I said before I left, I am teaching Physics to Form 1 and Form 3 (grade 9 and 11) students, as well as helping Form 4 with astronomy. Agape Lutheran Junior Seminary is on top f a large hill at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, near the Marangu route. It takes about an hour to get to Moshi (the nearest sizable town) after walking to the main road from the school and then taking a crammed bus/van to Moshi. It is absolutely beautiful at the school-surrounded by rainforest, clear sight of Kili, flowers and trees growing everywhere, and an good view of the small banana farms down below.
I didn't quite understand what 'Junior Seminary' meant before arriving. I live with two Lutheran sisters(nuns) in a house on the school grounds. The students (all of whom are required to live on school grounds) live in dorms right next to us. The sisters are very nice, one of whom is the headmistress, who has basically held my hand through my introduction to Tanzania and Agape. Needless to say, I have had to be on my best behavior. We go to mass every morning at 7am, and classes run from 8-2:30. Afterward the teachers sit and chat under the big tree and drink sodas, or I go to my backyard and read. Life definitely moves slower here, and the change has been very nice.
I'm starting to get quite adjusted to life here and I'm starting to talk with the people more. At first I was pretty reserved and quiet, as well as not being able to understand their language-swahili. While they all know english, the like to speak swahili, naturally. . so I think I will learn the language quickly.
I really like teaching! The students are very attentive, and I get really excited about the material I'm teaching because I'm such a huge Physics nerd. If I do enough research for each class, I don't think I will have any trouble with the classes. . .I have found I know the material well enough.
To answer a couple questions. . . I am the only white person at the school. There have been white teachers (German mostly) in the past, but I am the only current one. It's not too awkward though, if I try to forget how white I am. . . And the food is actually really good. Rice, beans, beef stew, cooked veggies, bananas(not sweet), and lots of tea.
Anyways, I'll stop writing before I start to bore you. I have lots of stories already if you want to hear! That's just incentive for you to write me actually. I'm actually pretty lonely here, and I really love hearing from you. I will be escaping to Moshi town every weekend, so I will check my email at least once a week. I hope everything is good in Ouray, Hanover, or wherever else you might find yourself...
Lynch Rocket Lab