Cadets from across the United States were chosen to travel across the globe and participate in a cultural understanding program with the U.S Army. Students were from a variety of colleges and they all chose Africa as their destination.
The country of Tanzania was the target country, and specifically, the economic capital city of Dar Es Salaam. The mission of the cadets is to teach students at military schools the nuances of English speaking and to also build relationships with those who are on the track to becoming military, political, and community leaders in Tanzania. There were three military schools that the Tanzania mission was assigned: Makongo, Jitigame, and Air Wing. This article will go over what activities have gone on in the first week here at Makongo.
On the first week in country, students participated in ice-breaking activities such as going outside and doing name learning activities; students in Tanzania do not normally have the opportunity to have class outside, so it seemed to be a stellar first impression. The classes that cadets taught were only form five students. Form five students are those that are above and beyond the required schooling in Tanzania and are on track to become doctors, lawyers, politicians, and generals, and the students are usually around our age.
The students also had a chance to ask us any questions about America or on any knowledge we had. Needless to say, the questions we fielded were very well thought out and often complex enough to warrant further research before we could answer them fully, and ranged from American social issues, to economics, to politics.
The Makongo classes were roughly the same size as American high school classes, but were held in outbuildings and with chalk as our writing tools. The students have been learning topics they’ve requested, from biology to economics to geography, and have also been learning a lot of conversation topics in English, such as weather, animals, sports, and words used in a restaurant setting, among others. The students love interacting, asking questions, learning more about American culture, and teaching us about their culture.
After our first week of successful teaching, the cadets and cadre spent Saturday on an island off the coast of Dar es Salaam called Bongoyo. We took a small boat out to the island and were there for most of the day. We explored the beach, ocean, forest, and rocks, and hung out in the sun and under the cabanas. We also ate local seafood at a small restaurant on the island, and went on a short snorkeling trip to see some local marine life.
On Sunday, some of the Cadets went to a market near the hotel and bought ebony carvings, clothing, paintings, and other local souvenirs by bartering with the shop owners. The first week went very well, and overall was spent building relationships with the students, teaching them more about American culture and English, learning from them and exploring some of the local treasures.