May 16, 2010 - June 3, 2010
Eleven students and three mentors traveled to Morogoro, Tanzania to participate in a service opportunity at Bigwa Sisters Secondary School. The participants were from Chestnut Hill College, Rosemont College and Marywood University. The goal of the service was to provide coaching in written English for the students at Bigwa School. This activity is very important for students at Bigwa, since they are required to take their exams in English, despite the fact that they are surrounded only by Swahili in their everyday life.
The preparation of the participants was extensive. The students enrolled in a semester-long course designed to assist them to learn the history, culture and present circumstances of Tanzania and to prepare them to coach students in written English. Each of the mentors taught part of the course, which was coordinated electronically among the three campuses. Dr. Marie Conn led the students in discussion of the Gospel call to justice, Ms. Lezlie McCabe provided instruction in teaching of English, and Margaret Gannon, IHM taught the history, politics and economics of East Africa. In addition, classes on Swahili language, Tanzanian geography and social structures, and English composition and grammar were presented. A highlight was the learning of the Tanzanian national anthem through the help of Sister Jane Wakahui, a doctoral student at Marywood.
This was the second service learning trip taken to Bigwa School under ASEC sponsorship. Much that had been learned in the 2008 trip was applied to this trip. The group had a clearer picture of what was needed and materials were prepared in advance and used as the basis of instruction. Also, more direct efforts to create an integrated team were successfully pursued. Moreover, sisters were instructed in small groups different from the groups of lay students, and their instructor was one of the mentors. Both of these strategies made the sisters more comfortable in their learning.
Margaret Gannon, IHM