Learning English in 7th Grade in Tanzania – Part 2

Here is Part 2 of Last Week’s Blog Post by Terese Benton, missionary to Tanzania with GMI IMG_3453As I sit to write the second part of this blog, I am three days away from leaving my home in Kapenta for three months. We have a team of my dear daughter and her husband, Zach Kemper, and two sweet young ladies visiting. We will leave the country on the same day as our visitors because we are returning to the States for our third daughter’s wedding and to raise support for a Christian primary school in a nearby village. So I must get things ready to leave…the life of a missionary can be filled with stress if we make the mistake to not depend on Jesus each step. Yes, I unfortunately do have stress.

…So by now Jodi and I have made it to the primary school grounds in Kapenta Village. As we get close to the school buildings, we greet many of the children in English and they love to try out their English abilities by even asking more questions than necessary for a proper greeting. They are really cute :). We arrive just after their chai time, about 10:30 a.m., and many of the kids are scrambling to get into the classroom for our teaching. I have to think ahead, not to wear a narrow-fitting skirt to teach because the step up into the classroom is quite big, and I cannot hike up my skirt in order to take that step. It would be scandalous for my knees to show! When I enter the classroom, all 55 or so of the seventh graders stand and loudly say, “Good morning, Mrs. Benton!”  I say, “Good morning, how are you?” and they say, “We are fine,” and then I ask them to sit down. As is very common, one of the difficulties of living in a Third World country is that people’s nutrition is very poor. I arrive at school knowing that most of the students have not had one thing to eat yet today, and I know they would be able to learn so much better if they had some sustenance to help their brains function well.  I want to feed them all! This particular group of seventh graders in the Rukwa Valley of Western Tanzania has been neglected in their studies of the English language. When I first started to teach them, I realized quickly that they knew very little English and that I had a big job to do. The saddest part is that there are some very bright students who could do very well in secondary school (what we would consider high school) but it is only taught in English. How will they ever understand what is being taught if they don’t understand the language they are supposed to learn in?! This is very frustrating, but I like a challenge and so I’ve had a lot of fun teaching them the basics: for example, days of the week, months of the year, and simple sentence structure. I want to have the entire class learning so I often make my way to the back of the room and I have to be careful not to trip because there is a large hole where the cement of the floor has worn away. They laugh at me when I do trip and I’m happy to bring a little entertainment for them 🙂 As I get ready to leave for the States, I’m hoping that the daughters of the Guilzon family will have the time to help these students learn more while I am away for the summer. I need to share that what I am really thankful for is that I can teach them Bible verses, teach them about Jesus, and pray with them. What the Holy Spirit can do in their lives is far greater than any education they can gain, even though it is important. I thank God for the call He has on my life, right here, right now, to touch these lives for Him.  I pray I do Him honor.

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