March 28, 2011

shika project: conference over

The conference is no more. We finished on Friday. Sorry I didn't share much in the past couple of weeks.

I was hoping to update during the conference, but I greatly underestimated how much work I would be responsible for. Turns out I played a critical role in many aspects of the conference, something that would've been hard to plan for even if I had known in advance. We all ended up with a lot more work than we bargained for, but I think everyone took it in stride and coped quite well given the circumstances.

March 13, 2011

shika project: preparation

If you follow my Twitter account, you may have caught a tweet that went out a week or two ago about a science conference. It is sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training here in Tanzania, and it's all about creating hands-on science activities (practicals) using locally available materials. The time has flown by since then and we're now making preparations for our first day!

While this post is titled "shika," the conference isn't necessarily about our Shika project. The outcomes of the conference will most likely end up in the Shika manual, however. Our greater hope is that these activities will spread beyond Shika into the textbooks and literature of Tanzania's education system so that they will have an impact outside of the schools Peace Corps Volunteers are placed in.

Tomorrow is mostly about getting things organized for the rest of our time together; figuring out what we need/want to accomplish, organizing that work into a schedule, and buying materials for the practicals we need to perform. While I'm certainly here to contribute ideas (especially in the field of physics), my primary assignment at the conference will be documenting and taking footage of what occurs while we're here. Given we'll be doing lots of running around in town tomorrow buying materials, it should be a fun day :)

March 4, 2011

life post-peace corps & pink eye

It's that time of year. Second-year PCVs are considering their options; to stay or not to stay. I have been looking at a wide variety of things in the recent days and weeks, from Americorps' VISTA program (props to my buddy Casey for bringing it to my attention), to grad school in South Africa, and most recently, the JET program.

Granted, I've decided I'm not all that interested in teaching another year in my village. But I'm looking at the JET program as more than just teaching. Much like the Peace Corps, JET understands the importance of cultural exchange, so much so in fact that the 'E' in 'JET' actually stands for [Cultural] "Exchange." And to be perfectly honest, I've had a personal interest in Eastern culture since I was in junior high school. Yeah, maybe I watched some Japanese cartoons when I was younger (I was, and still am, an unabashed Pokémaster), and maybe I attempted to learn some Japanese on my own at one point. I even took a Chinese Calligraphy class in college because their writing system has always fascinated me; the kanji itself are like beautiful little works of art.

As for teaching in Japan, I think learning about another education system (which will undoubtedly be better organized and equipped) would be a blast, and my role in the classroom would actually be to tag-team with an already established English teacher. Add to that the fact I won't be living below the poverty line anymore (even if I end up in a rural village, which I would ironically love and be familiar with), and there's no way around it. I'm actively excited about this opportunity.

As for the other headline, I woke up with conjunctivitis this morning. I know. Gross. My allergies have been quite active the past few weeks, and given that my average sneeze series has grown from the normal 2 to 3 or 4 at a time, the increase in irritation and wateriness of my eyes has led to excessive rubbing, which has undoubtedly led to this case of pink eye. It's already starting to feel better, as I've been pretty good in the past 24 hours about not touching my face.

But yeah, mostly the other thing :)