My friends and I paid my school to take us on a trip to Tanzania, which took place around the end of March 2012. One of the major experiences that I would like to share with you would be when we visited another school there, an inevitable part of any school trip.
We visited an international school in Tanzania that was considered to be one of the best schools around. Yet, it was totally different from any of the international schools found in Beijing. The classrooms were fairly small and dim (as far as I remember, there were no lights), with no floorboards covering the soil the school was built on. There was only one blackboard, only the teacher had a textbook and she was lecturing from it while the students took notes. For most of the time, the class was absolutely silent, with only the sounds of moving pens. It was a completely different teaching style from the dynamic and interactive style of learning we’re used to.
The students might not have had the best facilities, but I could see from the eighth grade classes that I experienced, that all of them were highly motivated. They had great passion and enthusiasm for learning. From what I heard of the students, it was clear that they all had goals for their future careers, whether it was to be a scientist, engineer or doctor.
More than that, they had dreams.
I became close friends with my neighboring student Aisha and the others around me. She was a very outgoing girl, and my being there gave both of us an excuse to not listen in class. We kept laughing and talking and by the end of the lesson, half the class had coined their own Chinese names.
At the girls’ school, it was a totally different experience.
From what we learned, the girls mostly had tragic backgrounds; some did not pass the exams for secondary school, some finished secondary but could not reach for university and some were forced to marry by their fathers or brothers. Education was not a privilege that they took for granted, but an escape. It was a different world from us.
However, that’s not what I saw through their eyes.
It was obvious that they wholeheartedly loved the fact that we were visiting. The girls were full of passion; they danced and laughed and dragged us along with them. When the teacher announced free time, the girls surrounded us, asking questions to satisfy their curiosity.
- “What is your name?”
- “How old is you?”
- “What is your hobby?”
- “You, me, dance!”
Their English was poor and basic conversation was hard to construct, as they often did not understand our replies. But that didn’t matter, whatever we said, more and more girls would surround us and ask more questions.
They kept laughing, running, dancing. It was a simple game, but you couldn’t imagine how much fun we had dancing in circles. By the end of the day, I had decided that this was definitely a memory that I’d like to share.
Having the school organize a trip just before exams was definitely a problem for procrastinators like myself, but it was altogether a very eye-opening experience that I recommend other international school students to have.
This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Nancy Yang, a student at Yew Chung International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.