Well, I was meant to be on a plane from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro at this particular moment and this gorgeous chicken Caesar was meant to be my last meal in the Western world (The Palm at JFK last night), but the gods have spoken and made other plans for me this evening.
As if I wasn't nervous/anxious/terrified enough about going back to Tanzania as the "Head Mzungu in Charge" of my own charitable organization, replete with a bona fide logo/business card/letterhead, fully registered statuses/offices/boards of directors in both the United States and Tanzania, and a comprehensive plan for programming and implementation, now I'm stuck in no man's land to mull it over a bit more before getting back on the ground in Kilimanjaro. Due to a technical problemo with the plane at Schiphol, my second flight has been delayed by a day and I am once again enjoying all the amenities that developed countries have to offer. I had thought I said kwa heri to wifi, cable tv, reliably hot showers, and Caesar salads yesterday?? It appears not. One more day of distractions and diversions before I get back to work....
Why I'm so antsy, I'm not sure. I've lived in Kilimanjaro for years now, know the lay of the land, carried out projects, met people, experienced success....experienced failure. Why Toa Nafasi should be so different I'm not quite sure, but I suppose there's a personal investment here that is new to me.
I should clarify. It's not an entirely bad feeling, these nerves, it's just an excited feeling that if I'm gonna do it, I need to seize the day before I chicken out and slink back to New York, tail between my legs. Enough with the intermission, let's get this show on the road, I say! So this unplanned pit-stop in Amsterdam after I'd psyched myself up to get back to work is kind of a monkey wrench.
But what can I do? Absolutely nuthin'. And it's just one night. Might as well take advantage of the calm before the storm and relax for the next 12 hours here in this bland airport hotel. I just wish Dutch tv didn't suck so much....
Tomorrow I'll be "going down the only road I've ever known," and by next week's post, I'll be delightfully ensconced back at home in Maji ya Chai. Until then, dear readers, enjoy your weekends and best wishes for a happy new year.
Funnily enough, there's a name for this sociocultural approach to education. It's called "community funds of knowledge" and it originates from the research of Luis Moll out of the University of Arizona. Working with Mexican-American students and their families in the barrio schools of Tucson, Professor Moll contends that "existing classroom practices underestimate and constrain what Latino and other children are able to display intellectually." He believes the secret to literacy instruction is for schools to investigate and tap into the "hidden" home and community resources of their students.
Similarly, my Toa Nafasi colleague, Angi Stone-MacDonald, used the community funds of knowledge approach as well in her work at the Irente Rainbow School for mentally challenged and autistic children in Lushoto, Tanzania in 2009.
Angi says: "In unique locations, like rural Tanzania, it is essential to focus on the needs of the local community. All children, including children with disabilities around the world learn first from their families and their environments. A culturally and socially relevant curriculum provides individuals with the knowledge relevant to living in their local community and the skills necessary for success in that community.