Archive for the ‘HOPAC School’ Category


As the end of scholastic year is finally here, so too comes the end of the year assessments. As a teacher I really dislike this time of year. My first year of teaching testing was the climax of the year. Everything we did was built upon THE TEST. This drove me nuts! Thankfully, at HOPAC, I have had less pressure of this kind, which is great. I have been able to be more creative, cover more material more thoroughly, and overall I think my students this year have learned a ton more than my previous students.

I still however, do not like testing. As a kid, and really all the way through my schooling, I was not a good test taker. If I was given material to study and worked hard I did well, but on the state administered tests I never did well. I always felt like I was lesser because of this growing up. I am now very aware that this is not the case but the pressure was no fun.

Watching my students feel the same pressure, even if it is less here, is no fun. They are all wonderful students, and although some have more weaknesses academically than others they all have great strengths. I dislike that a few days of testing determines how they will continue on in their schooling.

Thankfully, God has blessed us all with many talents and being at the top of the testing curve does not equal beautiful and successful in the eyes of our creator. I pray that all of my students would understand and embrace this during their academic careers.


5Km Fun Run

In Dar es Salaam, it is not the easiest thing to be physically active. Although it is sunny most of the days the humidity makes it way too difficult for me to work out for extended periods of time. In Tucson, I was able to go running everyday and I was not drenched in sweat even after I had been running for an hour.

Anyways, winter is on its way and the weather has been quite nice since we have been back. The PE teacher at HOPAC, who is one of those people who was made to be a PE teacher, organized a 5k fun run for the students, parents and community of HOPAC.

I just love these types of events! They bring together the family and promote active healthy lifestyles. There were lots of families that came out and participated, and even doggies.

The event went smoothly. Both Austin and I completed the race, although I wish I had been in a bit better shape but soon enough I will be. I made a deal with my students that if they beat me they could get some house points. Some of them did so I will have to pay up.

The race ended just in time for it to start raining, again. I hope that in the future HOPAC can see many more events like this.

Registering for the Race

Austin coming through the finish line

The Winners!

Back to Dar

After over 30 hours of travel, we made it safely and were greeted by three straight days of rain! It really is nice for it to be so cool here.

My students are doing great and the classroom was in order. They all ran up and gave me a big welcome back hug which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I sure do love them all!

Still haven’t felt the full effects of the jet lag but I am sure they are coming soon. Trying to get caught up in class and with grading, while not overwhelming myself too much.

More posts to come on real thoughts and experiences.

HOPAC Celebrates 15 Years

Haven of Peace Academey, aka HOPAC, celebrated its 15 year anniversary in March.The celebration was complete with a slide show of from the beginning days of HOPAC until today, alumni speakers, a representative from the Minister of Education’s office speaking, our Tanzanian staff singing and dancing, a student performance of How Great is Our God with sign language, a cupcake birthday cake for all of the students and staff, and jumping castles. It really was a day to praise the Lord for how much He has done in such a short time at HOPAC! Happy Birthday HOPAC! May there be many, many more years of blessings to come!

The set up.

Birthday Cupcakes!

Book Week

Each year at HOPAC the student council puts on BOOK WEEK. This is a week completely dedicated to Reading. I must admit at first I was a bit skeptical about the week, and thought it would be a bit corny, however, it proved to be a very fun and memorable time.

We began the week with a kick off assembly, where the student council members put on a skit about reading. It was super cute and they did a wonderful job. That day each student made a poster about why they love to read. The posters were hung around the school which really added to the week. All throughout the week we had a DEAR bell. Drop Everything And Read. Anytime it rang the students had to stop what they were doing and read a book.

My Class on Book Character Day

The second day was Buddy Reading day. We all came in our PJs or comfy clothes and brought along our favorite pillow or stuffed animal. In the afternoon we read with one of the other primary grades. The students really loved it and I really enjoyed seeing my older kids hanging out with the younger primary kids. On the third day we held a book exchange. At the beginning of the week we, asked for the students to bring in any books that they no longer were reading and they could exchange 2 for 1 new book. All of the leftover books were given to a local school with very little resources. This was all organized by our first graders. So precious.

The final day was Book Character Day. Everyone is encouraged to dress as their favorite book character and bring in the book they chose. The kids really love this day! Parents and kids go all out, to create some awesome book characters. At the assembly there is a big competition and secondary students vote on the best from each grade. It was so fun to see all of the different characters that came about. We had the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Sponge Bob, 101 dalmations, Pipi Longstocking and so many more.

Overall, it was a great week and a great way to promote the love of reading! I give it two thumbs up!

The Champions from each grade.

Dala Dala vs. Charter Bus

On the trip to Amani, we were short just a few seats and some room from all being able to fit on a big “charter” bus. Unfortunately, we did not fit and therefore a group of us had to travel on a dala dala the entire 8 hours to Amani. To be fair the nicer bus was not exactly comfortable either, however, I would have much preferred to be on that bus.

Coming from the land of plenty, where we have pretty much always had a nice big charter bus this is definitely a different way to travel. No comfortable, cushioned seats. No TV’s to keep the kids entertained. No bathrooms to make it so you don’t have to stop for a potty break. No microphone so that you don’t have to yell over the kids to get attention. No rest stops along the road or McDonald’s to get a break from it all. And no air conditioning. Instead, Austin and I traveled with a small group of boys from my class squished in a dala dala. In all honesty, it was not pleasant, but it was doable. I would say the major bummer about it was the metal bars you can feel underneath your bum, which make you numb after just a short while, and you and your stuff being covered with an inch of dust because in order to get fresh air you must keep the windows down at all times. On a more positive note, our driver was one of the safest, and more alert drivers I have had in Tanzania, which made me feel much better about having my students in the car too.

The larger nicer bus.

Our sweet little ride.

Amani Rainforest

From this 35km sign it took us 2 HOURS to get there!

I believe it was the first day of school that I got the question, ” When are we going to Amani?” My students have been excited to go to Amani since the very beginning of the school year. I must have answered hundreds of questions about this 4 day trip. For example, “Are their going to be real toilets or squatty potties there?” “Do we have to bring hiking boots or can we wear trainers?” “Why can’t I bring my cell phone?”  “Is it okay if I have already packed my bag?” (3 weeks early) and the list goes on. I made them hold off until the week before or else I am sure there would have been more.

Each year the fifth grade class at HOPAC, has the awesome opportunity to go to the Amani Rain forest. For the entire second term we study the Rain forest, so it is quite convenient that we have a rain forest not too far away from our school. By the time we left for Amani the students had been studying the rain forest for 6 weeks and had a pretty good basis of information about where we were about to go.

They were loving it!

The adventure began with an 8 hour drive along the unpredictable Tanzanian roads. After two bathroom breaks, two break downs, and 2 hours up a winding dirt road, we finally arrived. It was incredible getting out of the car and seeing the beautiful rain forest trees towering over you, with the craziness of the city left behind. The kids were so excited from the moment we stepped off the bus.

Our first "hike" more like a bit of a leg strech but beautiful none the less!

We began with a short tour around the building with our guide Lucy. We saw some monkeys right away which was super fun! We had a homemade dinner and then got to play some night time capture the flag. It was so fun but brutal to say the least. So maybe some kids were bleeding and crying at certain points in the game, but I think it is fair to say that all had fun.Then it was off to bed.

Glo-stick fun during capture the flag

The second morning we woke up early and had a great devotion about God’s creation. Then we headed up the Mbole Trail hike.  We had the kids do a scavenger hunt in hopes to slow them down on the trail, apparently classes in the past needed it. My class however, took this very seriously and only went about half a km in about an hour. After some poking and prodding, we got them to move along a bit faster. The last bit of the hike was a bit steep, but I was not complaining. I do not get to go hiking anymore so this was a major treat! Then we got to the top of the big hill, where there was an incredible view of the Rainforest valley. It was breathtaking. What was most exciting was hearing my student’s reactions to it all. One student even said, “It is like what you see on TV, but right there in front of you!” Many of my students have not done much traveling or spent a lot of time in nature so this was a big deal for them.

The Lookout after our big hike.

After the hike we had a nice lunch and then headed straight to the WATERFALL! Yup that’s right we got to play in a waterfall. Once again my kids were in heaven! Although the short drive and hike were a bit precarious, it was so worth it all. After lots of fun in the falls we  headed back for dinner.


Once it got dark our guides took us on a night hike, where we saw many different types of chameleons. So cool! Lights out.

3 Horned Chameleon on the Night Hike.

In the morning we woke up and headed out to see the Tea Factory and Butterfly Farm. Short bus ride and we were there. The tea fields were very pretty but unfortunately they were cleaning everything out everything was shut down for the day. My poor students had to sit through a long detailed, non-kid friendly, explanation of the tea making process. It would have been much more interesting had the machines been up and running.  Then we went to the butterfly farm. This too was a bit of a flop but the kids did get to see some butterfly eggs, pupa and a few actual butterflies. We also some some huge Jack fruit which looked great but did not taste as good as they looked.

Rolling hills of tea.

We headed back for lunch. In the afternoon we played some field games. The kids had a great time running around and just being kids. We were supposed to play in a near by stream but there was not enough water. So what did we decide to do…. go back to the WATERFALL of course! The kids were all for this. Once again we splashed, and played.

Then we ate our last dinner and prepared for the first ever “Amani’s Got Talent.” The kids cooked up some dance routines, shadow puppet plays, singing songs, and of course the choreographed chaperon Boom Boom Pow Dance. We ended it all with a dance to all of the classics; YMCA, Electric Slide, Chicken Dance, and much much more.

Boom Boom Pow Routine for the kids.

After the talent show we headed outside for a campfire. We laid by the fire and told funny jokes and stories and then sat back in awe of the wonder of the stars. So peaceful. So filled with the presence of the Lord.

Afterward, we headed back to our cabins. The boys told some scary stories and Austin and Shaun scared the boys by sneaking up on them. The girls and I, painted nails and talked girl talk. It was so great to play less of a teacher role and more of a friend and older mentor role.

Of course, it would have been much to easy to just stay up late and have fun. Around 11pm two kids just started throwing up. An hour later a few more kids started puking. We knew instantly it was food poisoning. I was in mom mode, cleaning up after the kids all night. However, the kids were champs and didn’t complain at all. Needless to say the bus ride home was a bit longer with kids puking until about half way home and the heat and being a bus for eight hours. Thankfully, we made it home safe. Really overall it was AMAZING! No complaints. It was so fun hanging out with my kids in the rain forest!