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The Ota Initiative Blog

Seasons Greetings from Kayanga

‘Tis the Friday before Christmas, and while employees across the U.S. have already abandoned their cubicles for Christmas cookies and eggnog at home, our team in Kayanga has been hard at work finishing up the first week of our winter program. This week’s lessons pulled mostly from our English curriculum because our students were busy conquering a tough subject – the parts of a sentence!

After our initial welcome on Day 1, each following day focused on a major sentence part. Our students learned about nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs by exploring their roles, qualities, and placements in English sentences. Our group leaders put on skits to demonstrate how the different sentence parts come together in English, taught the students songs to help with memorization, and played review games with students each day. Our Head Teacher Pontian noted that while many students struggled at first due to how different English’s sentence structure is from Swahili’s, students had a strong grasp of the four major sentence parts at the end of the week. We will definitely be returning to sentence structure more in future programs though because while our lessons so far have focused mostly on vocabulary, we now want to empower our students to begin creating their own sentences instead of relying on formulated phrases they have memorized.

Next week our students will return for five days of scientific exploration, but until then they too will be celebrating Christmas with their families. While many of our students are Muslims, Christmas is very much a community event in Kayanga and many people, even Muslims, spend the day walking around town visiting friends. I remember the Christmas I spent in Kayanga quite fondly and hope that everyone – in Tanzania, the U.S. and elsewhere – enjoys just as wonderful a holiday this weekend as I did then.

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