Teacher and Volunteer Share Moments of Insight in Tanzanian Classroom
Four-time volunteer and Global Volunteers Board Member John Taylor remembers an impactful assignment from teacher Jeremia Silla in Ipalamwa, Tanzania. It wasn’t intended for his students, but rather, for the volunteer teacher himself. In revealing his pride in his school campus, and his devotion to his students, Teacher Jeremia leaves a lasting memory of commitment and dedication. John shares the essay Jeremia wrote along with his own students, as assigned by John’s teammate Kathy Kline, a volunteer in Jeremia’s classroom. (John is pictured above with Ipalamwa General Clinic Manager Anna Victor Mwenda)
Retired volunteer teacher Kathy Klein was pleased – but surprised – when the teacher of her English class in Tanzania asked her to critique his own writing. Jeremia, the teacher, was intrigued by Kathy’s essay assignment to Jeremia’s students. “After a draft and round of review, a lovely essay emerged—one that he was happy to share with all the volunteers,” John recalled. Jeremia’s description of the school where he teaches surprised John, because he had visited the campus, and came away with a very different impression. Once again, John realized how important perspective is in life, and how we, as humans who share many common experiences, can lend insight and meaning to each other simply by listening to others’ viewpoints.
Kathy was so impressed with the students’ and Jeremia’s response to the assignment, that she asked to share his writings with the volunteer team. “He certainly embraced the role and knowledge of the volunteers and helped them to help his students,” John remarked. “Kathy reported there was a lot of good, hard work going on in his classroom. Teachers like this, and volunteers like ours, were made for each other!”
John saw the school with new eyes, after reading Jeremia’s essay. “Now, those of you who have been to Ipalamwa know the stark contrast between the school system there and the ones you’re used to at home,” he continued. “You see the lack of materials, the barren classrooms, the humble campus. When you read Jeremia’s essay, though, you’ll see how refreshingly different things can look from the inside. His view of the school and the environment there is positive and full of hope. He sees the bright side—the banana and avocado plants on campus, the efforts of the support staff—and writes with enthusiasm and energy. ” Upon his return home, John was eager to share his important insight with us.
“Teachers like this, and volunteers like ours, were made for each other!”– John Taylor, Global Volunteers Alumnus and Board Member
We asked Jeremia to share a bit about his life and motivation to become a teacher:
“I was born and raised in Iringa, where I completed primary and secondary school. I pursued my advanced secondary level in Njombe, the other southern region of Tanzania. I wished to be a lab technician since I liked physics, chemistry, and biology, but the government appointed me to study history, geography, and language. English language was my favorite subject. Later I went on to Mkwawa University, which is also in Iringa, and earned my degree of education in linguistics. From there I tuned my mind to become an English teacher. Ever since I started advanced level secondary education, it was my passion to become a teacher.”
Jeremia taught in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, and Iringa for his university “field work.” He was offered the position to teach English and Civics to all grade levels at Ipalamwa Secondary School upon his graduation in 2019.
“I just love everything about being a teacher, and I become very happy when students understand what I teach,” Jeremia enthused. “I also like preparing class because I continue learning. Helping children understand what they are supposed to understand is the thing I like most about being a teacher.”
Jeremia lives with other teachers in the community, and is unmarried with no children. His extended family lives in Iringa, a 3-hour bus trip from Ipalamwa – close enough for him to visit on weekends. “For now,” he says, “I’m striving for my goals before establishing my own family.”
Jeremia’s Essay: ‘Our School Environment’
March 6, 2020
Our school is known as “Ipalamwa Secondary School” which is situated at Ipalamwa Village. It is in Iringa region, within Kilolo district located in the southern part of Tanzania. It has a very beautiful environment covered with evergreen vegetation including avocado and banana trees. The environment is almost cold especially during the rainy season. The presence of people, buildings and activities make the place busy.
Firstly, the presence of amicable relationships among the people is essential. The school environment has a community of workers including security, cook, patron, matron and staff members. Those workers have been eagerly working hard for the attainment of students’ future ambitions. Apart from school workers also there are students who are working cooperatively to reach their desired talents and ambitions for future life. Once you reach here you will see the way students are relating with their teachers and other school helpers.
Secondly, the presence of well built buildings is helpful to the people. The school buildings are decorated with flowers and are well-planted with avocado and banana trees. There are administration blocks where you can see the headmasters’ office and staff office, a place where teachers use to stay during their daily activities.
In addition, you will find the well-lit classrooms which are well-furnished, having smooth black boards, good floor and good ventilation. The environment is so exciting with other small buildings like well planned toilets, washing hand stations, a well built kitchen and the like.
“The school buildings are decorated with flowers and well-planted with avocado and banana trees. In addition, you will find the well-lit classrooms which are well-furnished, having smooth black boards, good floor and good ventilation. The environment is so exciting with other small buildings like well planned toilets, washing hand stations, a well-built kitchen and the like.”– Teacher Jeremia Silla
Furthermore, there are different activities taking place in the environment. There is exciting daily teaching and learning as well as extra-curricular activities which make the school a busy place. This makes a good reputation with the societies around the environment. Just imagine the school has a good time table for students to play football, netball and volleyball. The presence of a hard worker, cook, matron, patron, and security has increased the efficiency of students’ performance in their classes. Therefore, the environment is so busy.
Lastly, the only slogan of school administration is “conserve the environment to boost our academic performance”. Moreover, people of the school environment are encouraged to work cooperatively to make sure students are living in a healthy environment and succeed academically.
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