Post submitted by Jenny Peck:
I love this year’s Adult English class! Each year members of the village have asked to be taught English, and this has become the number one way for us to get involved with the community, and discover the truly important issues in the area. We’ve have also found some of our biggest leaders through the program. Our new Librarian/teacher was enrolled last year and has since improved the English skills so much at Igoda Primary School, that this year the school ranked 7th in the district out of schools, and 25th in Iringa Region out of schools!
This year the class has been going for about a month now. There are 40 students, which is the biggest class yet! The best part of this class is that 50% of the students are women! The men from last year’s class have all encouraged their wives and neighbors to come and study this year, as the men have been telling everyone that educating women is just as important as educating men! How thrilling!
A funny incident from class last week occurred when we learned the differences of girl/woman boy/man, Ms, Mrs, etc. I was asked some questions about which led to one of the more hysterical discussions… a 19 year old girl stood up and asked, “When do you call someone a girl, and when do you call someone a woman?” We discussed the differences in cultures here, and the class had said there actually is no word in Kiswahili (the local language if Tanzania) for a woman who does not have children and is not yet married- she is considered an ‘old unmarried girl,’ until she becomes a grandmother or ‘Bibi.’ We had a visitor from the U.S. there who was visiting for about a month, Annie (28 years old) who asked, “So it takes a man to make a woman?” The entire class laughed hysterically at this…
The discussion continued and then it was decided that I (27 years old) am a woman since I have a child and am married, but Annie, who is unmarried and does not have child, is still a girl even though she is technically older than me!
Teaching English at the Community Hall is a great way to learn about people in this community, and in fact life in the community. It is great that we have some of the poorest people in the village- farmers living on the equivalent of $20/month- and we have some of the leaders of the village- the Village Executive Office for Igoda village is in the class this year! We have learned so much about the community we are in from this class, and we have found some amazing leaders! Last year, several Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Committees were started by members of the class from villages that didn’t have such committees, and this year several members of the OVC committee in Igoda village are in the class, and we learn about many children this way. It is great to have such a healthy encouraging way to get involved in the community. The thirst for education in this area is so uplifting, and so encouraging as so many caring adults are so invested in their communities.
Pictured: Yusto Chumi teaching English at Igoda Primary School. Yusto was a student first in the Adult Education program, and now is using the same lessons to teach English at the Primary School. Yusto's wife started in the program this year.