Meili Hau

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Description of Service

After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptibility and cross-cultural understanding, Meili Hau was invited into Peace Corps service. She was assigned to teach Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and English at the secondary school level in the East African nation of Tanzania.

Ms. Meili Hau entered training on September 25, 2000, participating in an intensive ten week program in Arusha, Tanzania. Language training consisted of 124 hours of Kiswahili. Technical training included 117 hours of education pedagogy and practical and development theory. Additionally, training included 62 hours of cross-cultural training and 22 hours of health and safety training. As part of the training, Ms Meili Hau completed two weeks of practice teaching in a model school in Arusha--Oldadai Secondary School. Throughout training she lived with a Tanzanian host family where she observed and participated in a native family lifestyle. The primary language spoken in the house was Kiswahili.

Ms. Meili Hau successfully completed training and was sworn in as a Volunterr on November 30, 2000. She was assigned to Lupembe Secondary School, in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Lupembe Secondary School is a community government, boarding, and day school. The curriculum is English medium and the main concentrations are science and agriculture based. She was one of ten teachers teaching students with limited English skills in a difficult learning environment. The school has an enrollment of 250 students and offers the first four years in secondary education--"ordinary level". Ms. Meili Hau was assigned by the Ministry of Education to the school and reported directly to the school's headmaster. Ms. Meili Hau was responsible for teaching two levels of Physics, one level of Chemistry, one level of Biology, and one level of English, according to their respective mandatory syllabi.

The first year and first term at Lupembe Secondary School, Ms Meili Hau taught 2 streams of form I physics students of approximately 42 students each stream; 2 streams of physics form II of approximately 35 students each; and, one stream of form III chemistry of approximately 58 students. The second term, she taught 2 streams of form I, and 2 streams of form II physics of approximately 40 students in each stream.

The second year and first term, Ms. Meili Hau taught 2 streams of form II physics of 33 students in each stream, one stream of form III physics of 32 students, and one stream of form III English of 70 students. The second term, she taught one stream of form II physics of 66 students, one stream of form III physics of 33 students, and one stream of form II biology students of 66 students.

The topics taught from the Physics form I syllabus consists of: measurement of length, mass, and time; density and relative density; forces; Archimedes' principle; properties of matter; pressure in liquids; atmospheric pressure; temperature & thermometers; straight line propagation of light; reflection at plane surfaces; magnetism; static electricity; and current electricity. The topics taught from the Physics form II syllabus consisted of: equilibrium; work, energy, and power; machines; motion in a straight line; laws of motion and linear momentum; thermal expansion of solids, liquids, gases; measurement of heat; change of state; and transfer of heat energy. The topics taught from the Physics form III syllabus consisted of: scalars and vectors; friction; energy transformation; astronomy; reflection of light from curved mirrors; refraction of light; static electricity; current electricity; heating effect of electric current; domestic electricity; chemical effect of an electric current; and cells. The topics taught from the Biology form II syllabus consisted of: human heart; blood; lymphatic system; transport in plants; absorption and movement of water and salts; movement of the human body; and muscles. The topics taught from the Chemistry form III syllabus consisted of: the mole and related calculations; volumetric analysis; and ionic theory and electrolysis. The topics taught from the English form III syllabus consisted of: word building; concessions; prepositions; auxiliary verbs; and prefixes and suffixes.

Both the form II students and the form IV students take a comprehensive end of year exam which enables them to continue on to the next year and next level if they perform well. Ms. Meili Hau's duties included curriculum development, daily lesson planning, constructing and administering class exams, evaluating students, and preparing students for the national exams.

Ms. Meili Hau was also involved in various secondary projects throughout her service in Peace Corps:

1- A large 7 x 11 foot periodic table was painted in the physics and chemistry laboratory. Twelve students assisted the PCV in working on the project. Students learned how to mix paints and paint graphics on a concrete wall.

2- A school organic garden was started in order to try to conquer poor nutrition among boarding student; to be used a a means of applying agricultural lessons; and to teach students about organic gardening. Two agricultural teachers were involved in implementing and carrying on the project along with 10 students. Chinese cabbage, regular cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and spinach were planted in nurseries made by the students. Students were involved in watering, transplanting, mulching, and pest control. The harvests were sold by the students and the money was used for girl's empowerment activities at Lupembe Secondary School.

3- The Volunteer was also involved in school debates. The debates were held in English and included topics such as: "Abolishment of Corporal Punishment", "Men are Better than Women", and "It is more important to educate a girl than a boy". Debates provided students with the opportunity to practice their English skills; critical think skills; and engage in pertinent conversations. Students were corrected on how they expressed their points in English and what they presented. At first not many girls participated in the debates, but there came a greater involvement and unity by the girls through the course of the first year.

4- March 8th, International Women's Day, the Volunteer was involved in various activities to promote gender role development. Two inter-school events were held 2 years in a row involving both Kifanya Secondary School and Lupembe Secondary School--the events took place in Lupembe Village the first year and Kifanya Village the second year. The inter-school events involved debate, dramas, and choir performances utilizing the major theme of gender-related issues. The day's events ended in football and netball competitions involving both male and female students.

5- Peace Corps sponsored International Women's Day essay contests that took place at the Volunteer's school. The essay contest involved both students and teachers. Students submitted their essays and the teachers held a conference to select the best essay to be submitted to the national competition.

6- A third International Women's Day event was one of the most successful events on March 8th. The event was entitled "Take Your Mother's to School Day"--an event crafted by the Volunteer with the help of her colleagues at Lupembe Secondary School. Mothers of all the students were invited to go to school with the students. The purpose was to educate students, mothers of students, teachers, and a few primary level students on the following: women and girl's rights; equal partnership between a husband and wife; issues affecting female students; the effects of HIV/AIDS on women and children; issues on how parents' methods vary on the raising sons and daughters; new developments among women today and their effects on men; and awareness that development cannot take place without concurrently empowering women to be as equal as men. Students (263), mothers of students (175), teachers (18), school board member (1), government officials (Division Secretary, Village Counselor-Twilumba Wapalila), and guest speakers (2) attended this event. One of the speakers was a female form II student, and another was the PCV's female counterpart, Eniharda Haule. A total of 8 speakers were involved in expression the previously mentioned target topics. Gender & development videos were also shown throughout the event day with the help of Norad (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), which has a small office in Lupembe Village--Norad provided the videos, television, VCR, and generator.

7- The Volunteer together with another PCV in Igombola Village, Shannon Rock, organized a large girl's conference in the nearest town to both of the Volunteers' villages known as Njombe. The "Twende Pamoja" Girl's Empowerment Conference involved 14 Peace Corps primary and secondary schools, 14 counterparts of volunteers, 14 volunteers, 42 female students and 12 male students, and 12 speakers. The following sessions were presented: life skills, education, careers, small-income generating projects, environmental education, women's panel discussion, FEMINA magazine, women and girl's rights, gender discrimination, health and nutrition, sex and relationships, family planning, HIV/AIDS and STDs, and peer education. Entertainment activities at the conference included choir and rap performances by students; dramas; kanga and kitenge fashion show; and dance. The event was held at the Nazareti Center in Njombe where conference space and room & board was provided at a cost. Theodora Kinasha and Chausiku Mtulla helped to facilitate session. The agriculture/environmental education session was facilitated by Addinani Mwenda. Jamillah Mwanjisi of FEMINA magazine faciliated the HIV/AIDs discussions. Many more important progressive Tanzanian leaders were involved in facilitating sessions, but their names have been lost in the process of returning the Volunteer back to the US.

8- With the support of a Small Project Allowance (SPA) grant, a contribution by Lupembe Secondary School, and the support of village leaders, Ms. Meili Hau facilitated the installation of 5 solar home systems at Lupembe Secondary School in the school library and 4 classrooms. The school is far from the national electrical grid, therefore no electricity is available in the rural village of Lupembe. The boarding students at Lupembe Secondary School used kerosene-lit lamps to study at night. The 5 solar home systems were bought from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzanian (ELCT), Solar Energy Project.

9- Ms. Meili Hau was involved in tutoring students in form II for the national examinations. Students were tutored in small groups of five. They worked on national exam questions, study techniques (e.g. note cards, grouping, using diagrams, etc.), and clarifying notes and book information.

10- A billboard at the Volunteer's school was used by Ms. Meili Hau to post information about the following topics: HIV/AIDS stories, statistics, and facts; gender issues; essay writing assistance; composting; study skills; current events; and various other topics.

11- Ms. Meili Hau was invited to various Peace Corps workshops. She was first invited to attend the Sub-Regional Gender and Development Conference in Arusha, Tanzania after submitting an application. The conference included PCVs, staff members, and counterparts from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and Madagascar. She was also invited to attend the Peace Corps Education Project Review Workshop to review and revise the 4 goals of the Tanzanian education project. Ministers from the Ministry of Education, headmasters from various secondary schools, counterparts, and PCVs attended the workshop. Ms. Hau also attended Training of Trainers (TOT) to facilitate sessions and assist during PST-2002.

Lessons Learned

"Positive Reflections"... Peace Corps service was my journey into understanding my capacity to give amidst a challenging environment. Reflection at each step of the journey gave me insight and challenged my cultural values, ideologies, knowledge, and fears. The greatest challenges were not the lack of running water or electricity; the use of pit latrines; the limited food options; African bugs; the travel required to obtain food; the need to use candles or kerosene lamps at night; or the remoteness of my village--the challenges included cultural integration using language and customs; working around the barriers of limited resources; and facing the isolation of being from another culture. What seized me through my Peace Corps service and kept me motivated to make change were my connections with Tanzanians. Because although my Kiswahili proficiency was limited in various expressions and words, the friendships persisted in a very real and progressive way. The heart speaks the same language in any part of the world.

You will not find Lupembe on Google Earth if you tried to search for it. It is located about 70 kilometers east of Njombe, which you may find on Google Earth. Lupembe is a land of tea plantations started during the British colonial days. Traveling from Njombe to Lupembe took anywhere between 2.5 hours to 11 hours depending on the condition of the bus, the weather, road conditions, or unexpected events. I loved the rural-ness of my village! My favorite was collecting rain water from my roof into a large tank. It seemed so natural to collect and drink the water from the sky. I had a large garden where I grew snap peas, kale, lettuce, carrots, strawberries, and beans. My harvests made great gifts for my friends and a good trade if I wanted guava, pineapples, or avocados which I didn't grow. I never managed to learn how to kill a chicken, because they're just too cute and funny, but the Christmas when I received a live chicken as a gift I got close to considering learning this skill--never happened.

The absence of television or other American type of activities afforded me the opportunity to explore my cooking skills. I held pot luck dinners--a new concept for my Tanzanian friends--not only to share my new cooking experiments with my friends, but also to introduce my friends to the concept of pot lucks and spend time with each other. I perfected a few dishes that I'm quite proud of including my teriyaki sauce, marinara sauce, tortillas, mango and banana bread, and finally my alfredo sauce. Needless to say I gained a few pounds as a result.

About Meili Hau Today

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