From BC to Africa: A Practicum in Tanzania

Guest post by Carly Pearson, a second-year student in UVic’s teacher education program. Carly is studying in Cranbrook BC, through the East Kootenay Teacher Education Program.

For six UVic teacher candidates from the Victoria and Cranbrook campuses, travelling to Tanzania for their first practicum was the experience of a lifetime. (From left to right) Nicole Hare, Martha Palmer, Amanda Scott, Cassidy Lindsay, Erin Kaldestad and Carly Pearson spent four weeks in the metropolis city of Dar es Salaam, practicing their teaching skills and learning from the Tanzanian education system. As a co-teach practicum, the three pairs each had a classroom connected to the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE).

Six candidates, five hometowns, a four-year program, three classrooms, two in each class, one experience of a lifetime.

Karibu Sana: the common Swahili greeting that translates to “you’re most welcome.” We quickly felt at home in the first days of wandering around and getting our first glimpses of the Chango’mbe Primary School and DUCE campus. Tied to UVic, DUCE offers teacher education programs up to master’s degrees and manages our practicum placement school that was no more than a five-minute walk from it.

Karibu Sana (You’re Most Welcome)

Every morning, at 7:30 am before classes start, children and their teachers gather for the Morning Assembly. The schedule for this daily event includes assembling in lines with fellow classmates, morning exercises, singing of the school anthem and a greeting to the teachers. On Fridays, while dressed in their sports uniforms, the students also partake in a school-wide run.

Morning Assembly

“In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.” This Phil Collins lyric sums up Erin Kaldestad teaching in her standard two (grade two) practicum placement classroom with a total of 44 students. The children’s learning was evident in the way they so quickly recited the various anatomical parts that Erin pointed out in the book. Despite it being their second language, the students were primarily comprehensive in English – the same degree that we were to them. The challenge of an occasional language barrier added to the overall learning for both teachers and students in this experience.

“In learning, you will teach and in teaching, you will learn.” – Phil Collins

“Today, a reader. Tomorrow, a leader.” This quote by Margaret Fuller reminds me of Shubi Mbakile – a standard two (grade two) teacher at Chango’mbe Primary school who was mentor to me and my partner, Erin. For decades, Madame Mbakile has expanded her experience in teaching reading, writing, numeracy and sports and development, but this was the first she had ever played Bottle Football (Soccer) or witnessed her class use a play parachute.

“Today, a reader. Tomorrow, a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

“Here I am. This is me. There’s no one else on Earth I’d rather be.” – Bryan Adams

“Here I am. This is me. There’s no one else on Earth I’d rather be.” – Bryan Adams

In a room of English, French and Swahili speakers, a smile was our universal language. When in standard one or two (grade one or two), students learn all their subjects in English as an integrated language, but outside of the classroom, they primarily speak Swahili. Additionally, they learn French weekly.

In a room of English, French and Swahili speakers, a smile was our universal language.

Two professors from DUCE are currently doing their PhD in Education at UVic and were on site during our visit. They were of immense help to us and we had fun predicting which Premier League football team was more likely to win that night’s game. 

When you ask two PhD students about which Premier League football team was more likely to win that night’s game.

Nicole Hare (left) and Martha Palmer (right) posed with Madame Agripina Henry, their standard one (grade one) mentor teacher. The candidates sported their UVic t-shirts while on site and these two arranged for their students to trace their hands and write their names on the fabric.

Teachers are also lifelong learners.

Carly sported an ecstatic pose behind her class of 44 after accomplishing her first practicum experience. She, like her fellow candidates, will never forget how much it had impacted her growth as a teacher yet-to-be. The candidates have two practica in Canadian classrooms left before graduation in 2021.

First Practicum: Complete

While in practicum, Madame Shubi Mbakile invited her practicum students, Erin and Carly, to her home in Dar es Salaam. Using her spoon, she gathered charcoal from the heat source below the pot and placed it on its top. This top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top cooking technique sure met the goal for a full and wholesome soul, and rice pilau became a favourite authentic dish for Erin and Carly.

Charcoal meets the goal for a full and wholesome soul.

When in Africa, safaris are a staple. We were fortunate to see not one, but two lions on our journey as well as a variety of other exotic animals. However, this lion was not too impressed when our safari vehicle woke him up from his afternoon nap on the side of the road!

The Lion Wakes Today

Just like this observant group of giraffes, when we stand together, we stand taller.

When we stand together, we stand taller.

After we completed the practicum, we were due for some exploration. Our destination: “the Spice Island.” If variety is the spice of life, then take thyme to visit Zanzibar. It wasn’t until we saw it for ourselves that we knew the mysterious food in the picture was nutmeg! It was one of many spices or fruit we got to see or taste before our tour guide presented us with his own home-cooked spiced rice pilau and fish!

If variety is the spice of life, then take thyme to visit “the Spice Island” of Zanzibar.

Like the one setting sun we saw at Imani Villa in Zanzibar, our journey ended too quickly.

Like the one setting sun we saw, our journey ended too quickly.

All photos copyright Carly Pearson.

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