Teaching in Tanzania

Biology and English Teaching, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

In December 2006 I was fortunate to travel to Gongo Lamboto, a small town south of Dar-es-Salaam, to teach Biology and English to incredibly motivated students. Below is a short vignette that describes my day-to-day experience in Tanzania.

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Standing in a small gray classroom, with cold concrete walls, I greet my youthful Tanzanian students enthusiastically, “Habari za asubuhi! Mambo?” Good morning! How are you?

The teenage students respond in unison, “Poa! Vipi?” Good. And you?

“Swari.” I reply, with a conspiratorial smile on my face. The class giggles at my use of the Swahili word for “groovy.”

I catch one bright, young man still peering through the barred windows, looking out onto the dusty dirt roads and outdoor markets of Gongo La Mboto, our small town outside Dar-es- Salaam, Tanzania.

“Let’s begin,” I smile, “Has any one here ever seen a lizard?” Half of the class raises their hands. “Where did you see this lizard? And where do you normally find lizards? What kind of habitat do they like?” I emphasize the word habitat, and write it on the board.

The students begin listing the places they had found lizards: “On the wall!”

“On a tree!”

“In the bathroom!” This response elicits happy laughter.

“Why might you find a lizard in the bathroom?” I question the class, thinking about the buckets of river water used to flush the pit toilets, “What might be in the bathroom that the lizards would need?”



Very good, I think to myself. They’re really going to enjoy our animal observation projects this week!


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