July 21, 2010
A busy day & I am tired already. Let's see if I can make this short.
The big news is that we shifted our address today to the New Dodoma Hotel. We did it before even starting for work, just took all our bags from the Twiga & drove straight to the New Dodoma & booked rooms. This feels like a very positive move.
It was a full day at MRI. We made presentations about Labour Market Information & Occupational Profiles, showing how things are done in Canada. It is still hard to get feedback from the group & when they do provide an answer to a question (usually after MUCH prompting) the voice is so quiet & the accent so intense that it is hard to understand the contribution. It is obviously a cultural response to the classroom environment because during tea-times & at lunch etc. the group is EXTREMELY friendly, open, talkative, & volume is not a problem. Even the accent seems easier to understand!
We also talked about DACUM processes, using expert workers to come up with accurate occupational processes; and then spent some time working with Bloom's Taxonomy. (Based on their evaluation notes from yesterday, this was a topic that they clearly wanted to know more about).
One topic that keeps coming up is the need for up-to-date mining equipment that their students can use for training. You can't miss the frustration in their voices. I feel frustrated along with them. So we talked about getting donations of equipment (remote but possible, I suppose), using simulations, & focussing on the most difficult micro-task of using the tool. Stuff like that.
One happy little development is that I am going to have a lovely Tanzanian dress!! Doug happened to complement one of the women today on her beautiful traditional dress & I agreed with him. Before I knew it, she had offered to arrange a visit to a tailor so I could get one made. So right after work we went to the market, shopped for material, & then arranged with a tailor to sew the dress. It is not really a dress: it is a well-tailored blouse ('blusi') with a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist for the skirt & another piece of fabric wrapped into a turban on the head. It really does look terrific. I went crazy looking at the fabric which is heavier than kanga fabric (this stuff is called kangeri I think) & of higher quality. Doug liked the idea so much he is ordering a similar garment for his wife. Mine will be ready tomorrow!
We were dropped off at the New Dodoma hotel to settle in. This place is just great. There are THREE restaurants, a bar, and an internet cafe (the internet actually works) with printing & photocopy facilities. Tonight I had enough time only to locate a resource for our presentation tomorrow but soon I should be able to get online, send a quick email to let friends know I am alive, & upload this blog.
Still later (I did say it was a busy day!) we were picked up for supper. Supper was at the Chako ni Chako, a locally famous spot where even the President visits when he is in town. It is nothing much to look at: a long & modest sidewalk cafe, but it is one of those perfected combinations of food & social life that just works. You sit at plastic tables on a dusty sidewalk & the waiters bring you plates heaped with roast chicken (kuku choma). The chickens have obviously been free-range because the meat is very very chewy. It is a very simple menu: roast chicken pieces with salt & chili sauce for dipping, & limes to squeeze on if you like. They bring you pop or beer & occasionally roasted plantains too. Delicious. Another waiter comes around with a pitcher of warm water & a plastic basin & pours water over your hands so you can clean before eating. Starving cats weave under the tables looking for scraps. People drift in & out off the sidewalk & there is such an atmosphere of colleagiality and good humour. It seemed almost our entire MRI crowd was there. Chako ni Chako apparently translates as 'yours is yours' & it means something like 'you only have what you have.'
Of course, I am paying for it now; my intestines are a mess. I do hope I am not kept awake all night but even if I am, it will have been worth it.