St. Agnes Monastery

St. Agnes Monastery
Benedictine Sisters of St. Agnes | photo found at


I forget if I mentioned this in the previous posts, but I am teaching a computer class at St. Agnes Chipole Secondary School twice a week.  The secondary school is an all girls private school that was built and is run by the sisters of St. Agnes.  The girls come from all over Tanzania to receive their education and spend about 9 months of the year here.  So they live, eat, study, attend class, work, and play together.  It seems so fun.  The school is about a mile and a half from the convent so Maggie and I walk the red dirt road 4 times a week.  Mag teaches English Mondays and Tuesdays and I teach Computers Wednesdays and Fridays.  For moral support, we attend each others’ classes and give feedback at the end in order to make our lessons better for the students.  It has been challenging work so far but both Maggie and I feel that our presence and time spent at the school will be the best work we can offer here.  
The challenges.  Like I said, so far it has been a big challenge teaching the students about the computer.  However, here the challenges are wrapped in different packages.  I have absolutely no trouble getting the students to listen or excited about learning.  Actually, their eagerness to learn is almost intimidating.  What is most difficult is the lack of resources.  There are around 15 computers in the lab, easily enough to share between the 20 students that rotate in 4 times.  However, most of the machines do not work or are missing vital parts in order to function.  Extension cords go missing and I can spend up to half of the class period trying to track them down.  Lately, we have had one computer to 20 students.  So I have had to modify my lessons and get creative.  Another challenge is the wide spectrum of knowledge the students have with computers.  Some of the girls come from families where they have seen and/or used a computer many times.  Others have had no experience with them.  So teaching things like how to hold and move a mouse are extremely important for some and extremely redundant for others.  Finding that balance is my next goal.  
Teaching, for me, is going to be more about learning it seems.  I am definitely learning how to be patient with and respond to all of the technical difficulties.  However, even more than that I am learning how to be patient with myself and do as much as I can each day with what I am given.  I am learning about my confidence, diving right into something that I don’t feel qualified for but have enough knowledge to share.  I am learning, also, that at the very least I can be a positive presence in the classroom and around the school.  I do not think encouragement is lacking here but it never hurts to add to that encouragement and show the students that they have someone who admires them and someone who will give their time to them.  
The girls are wonderful.  Maggie and I teach Form 1 which is equivalent to 7th and 8th graders I believe.  They are extremely shy but very welcoming.  The Form 4 girls, however, are the furthest thing from shy.  They love to walk and chat with Maggie and I about movies, music, sports, travelling…  and their favorite subject:  boys.  We don’t have the From 4 girls in class but we see them on our way in and out from the school.  We have been on a midterm break for about two weeks now.  I am eager to get back to school and see all of the students and get down to business on these computers.  We will start on Monday.  Thanks for reading, I will update you more soon!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Ash, this must be a great experience! It is easy to forget how lucky we are to have computers all around us in the States.