School is school. Learning is the adventure.
Sunday in Karatu felt like a Sunday at Gould. People slept in late, we had brunch—crepes made by Mia and Madsie—and students organized their day around the time they signed up for an individual conference. All rough cuts were due for an official listen and each student was beginning to form an idea for a final project. As Sophia and Cindy cooked us a traditional Chinese dinner of meat, cabbage, and rice with a side dish of potatoes, we were ready to listen to the story of a TEC teacher, Matt. Through dinner conversation, he shared his story of high school, college, and post-college adventures. Each part of Matt’s story had an element of adventure and grit. As the Gould students imagine college and beyond, hearing his story helps them to understand how school sets a foundation for future adventures.
The next day at TJS learning and adventure were integrated. Our morning class was a pitch session that lasted for two hours. Each Gould student pitched a final story idea and received feedback. For the Gould students, it felt like a typical class. For the TJS students, this was a new experience. Personal voice, questioning ideas, challenging assumptions is not prioritized in mandated curriculum, but TJS welcomes the experience to learn. It is hard to capture how powerful this cross-cultural learning experience was to witness—Gould students were modeling for the TJS students a new way of learning and because of the trust built up over the last week, the TJS students were willing to try—and then they took off. One particular powerful moment was with Zac’s story pitch. His essential question was, what is hope? The meaning of these words for an American, an East African, and a Chinese are very different. It was clear, as Zac explained his idea, that he assumed everyone had hope and that one’s hopes were usually attainable. Suddenly, Grant from TJS raised his hand and offered this: “You are assuming everyone has a hope and that everyone’s hope will be able to happen.” This statement began to pull apart the word hope—from 3 global perspectives. Mr. Kwulwa, the librarian gave us a dictionary, and Noah chimed in that Zac’s idea was forming as an argument of definition. In the end, Zac is working to produce a story on the definition of hope and dream through the voice of Tumaini.
In the afternoon, it was clear that the classroom learning—the 2 hours of the pitch session—provided the correct foundation for the next step in learning—the experiential or adventure. The Gould students are so privileged to have the TJS students as story guides. The story guides helped arrange interviews and bring students to places in Karatu that supported their story. Mia found herself in her guide’s aunt’s house talking about how education changes the expectations for women, while Noah walked 3 km each way to visit a health clinic to see how water was used there and to better understand how water is used in communities. Sophia is exploring why non-Tanzanians volunteer at places like TJS and what is that experience like for a TJS student or teacher. Cindy is captivating many with her drawing skills and investigating appreciation. Maddie is building trust by developing a three sided story on being a teenager in East Africa, China, and the USA. Lucas is focusing on determination and how people keep looking ‘on the bright side’ in the face of adversity.
Other pictures are of our Saturday hike to an elephant cave. Today we head to the secondary school to witness their project based learning class focused on Millennium Development Goals, and we safari early tomorrow morning.