Stefan Gary '02
I graduated with the class of '02 and accepted a two year position in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, East Africa. In the four month lag time between graduation and Tz, I designed and built (most of!) a renovation/addition rear porch on my parents' house. In Tanzania, I am teaching A-level Physics to 6th year high school students (roughly equivalent to Swat's Physics 3 and 4 classes but without vectors and 3D) at the Moshi Technical Secondary School in Moshi. I can see Mt. Kilimanjaro (tallest in Africa) from my kitchen every morning and many many students come through my house when they come to Moshi to climb the mountain. My house doubles as the "official" depository of mountain climbing gear for Tanzanian students' school climbs. I'm in charge of maintaining gear and scheduling the many school climbs organized each year by Volunteers in Tz. I've learned a lot about physics, classroom management, Swahili, bargaining in the market, dealing with snakes, repairing boots, cooking from scratch, and a ton of other useful stuff. Some of the biggest challenges have been very uncooperative students, lack of teaching materials, and coming home to a house filled with stinky gear after a long day's teaching! However, it is a remarkable experience and I've had the chance to work with and learn from some of the very dedicated and insightful teachers here. After Close of Service in December, I expect to continue with graduate studies in engineering. However, I am still undecided about whether to choose future profession in industry (structural/restoration engineering?), academia, or as a high school teacher.
So, that's my life in Moshi in a nutshell. At this point I'm eagerly awaiting Close of Service. The combination of high workload (worse than Swat 'cause I live alone, cook for myself, and there are fewer activities to do to relax) and loneliness is really taking its toll on my optimism. It's not that there's no one to talk to; rather it's just much harder to fully express oneself and vent all the pent up observations, frustrations, and thoughts of the day. I'm actually very lucky when it comes to PCV's. I live in a very posh part of Tanzania. All the tourists pass through this region to go to Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as the big name game parks (i.e. Serengetti and Ngorogoro Crater). Furthermore, about half of the senior government officials (my estimate...) are from this region. My house has fairly consistent electricity and running water and some of my neighbors are very cosmopolitan and well educated people.
Ok! I gotta run for now: time to take boots to the cobbler for yet another round of maintenance! I send my greetings to other profs and any of the juniors and seniors. I hope to visit Swat soon after coming back... Kwa herini. Stefan Gary