Kazimoto & Club Life

This morning we were invited back to VETA to work on CAN8 with the English teachers. There wasn’t a lot of work to be done on it so we didn’t have a lot of input. I watched Heather helping one of the English teachers to format proper sentences but there didn’t seem to be a lot of understanding on his part; I think it might be a cultural thing where he grew up hearing and reading grammar a certain way so any changes in that seem to throw him off.

We had most of the afternoon off and spent a good portion of it at VETA for lunch and then we headed back to the hotel. That night, Lucas got in touch with us and wanted to hang out so he told us to meet up with him at one of the local pubs. We were just about to leave the hotel when we ran into Rodney (our Mikumi tour guide) and asked him if he would like to come along to hang out; which he then replied with “why not…” (haha) he didn’t seem too excited but then we mentioned that Lucas was going to be there so he got a bit more pumped up. Rodney drove us to the pub, which was really nice of him and on the way over; we had to get in touch with Lucas because we weren’t a hundred percent sure where to go once we got into town. Lucas came out and found us and directed us where to park.

When I got out of the car, I was confused as to where we were going because there weren’t any bars and there wasn’t very much around. He walked us down into this hallway in the middle of other buildings and sat us down at a random table in the hall. It turns out that there are little shops along this hallway and one of them just so happens to be a bar. Lucas wanted us to try some local food and ordered us something called “Mishkaki”; I was really worried about trying it considering I had no clue what that was, but my food curiosity is coming back and I’m getting more adventurous with trying new things again. Mishkaki turned out to be barbequed pork on a skewer that was already taken off of the skewer for us; it was delicious! We stayed at the pub (Kazimoto) for a while and just exchanged funny stories and had a great time just talking. One of the funny things about that night is that normally when we get beer, we only get little glasses but we actually got real beer glasses which Lucas dubbed “Big Girl Glasses”; guess I’m finally a grown up Tanzanian lol.

Later on though, we all still had a lot of energy and still wanted to do something so Lucas took us to “Club Life”; one of the local clubs. We got there around midnight or so and it just so happened to be ladies night so we didn’t have to pay to get in.

The club wasn’t very busy, but it was such a nice change of scenery just in terms of having fast enough music to dance to, a lot of the songs were in English and a knew a bunch of them which I find makes dancing more fun. I think what made the music better too is that a lot of it was Sean Paul from the early 00’s; brought back a lot of high school memories!  It got more crowded around 1am and that’s when I started to really realize just how much Sarah and I were standing out, there were no other Caucasians there and so it was hard to avoid all the staring; but at that point I didn’t mind too much. We finally made it home around 2am or so, but unfortunately I have no pictures to share because when we got there the bouncers checked our purses and told us we weren’t allowed to use them. I guess I’ll just have to go back again sometime this week to sneak my camera in and snap a few!

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Starting to get the hang of this

This morning we were up and getting ready to help out the English department with an English program called CAN8 which lets you record yourself so that students can try to match your pitch and pronunciation. We got a text just before we were about to leave from Bertram stating that we had a surprise meeting with some local event managers in town who want to make sure they are on the right path in putting on a music festival in Dodoma. We met with them at the “Modern Hotel” just outside of the city centre and sat with them. Their intention is to provide awareness and to bring culture into the city by inviting local tribes in the area to perform at this music festival. Their issue, and I think this is the main issue for most managers trying to put on events, is to raise money through sponsors. The businesses and corporate branches are not necessarily following procedures and just don’t see the win/win situation that sponsorship provides. They are also largely neglecting to pass on sponsorship packages to their actual head offices where there would be more luck. We basically tried to give them a better game plan as to how to get their attention whether it’s by having a politician backing them (tourism & hospitality departments), celebrities, and budget breakdowns of the companies they are approaching and by creating a level of overall consistency.

We also tried to have them see the value in having a proper volunteer committee considering how big they want to make this event (5,000 people, no ticket sales). I think if they re-evaluate the grandiosity of this event, make it a bit smaller and maybe charge a couple thousand shillings per person it would be much more successful. One thing that I’ve noticed here when advising people of how to make revenue, they always have a reason as to why they shouldn’t charge an entry fee – in all honesty if someone has to pay a dollar or two to see a full day-10 hour concert, I’m pretty sure they’d fork it up. I’m not sure why there is a stigma on having people pay to have cheap or free food, drinks, free concerts and a place to hang out with their friends and family. Ticket sales are how you break even and pay for things like the venue, the bands, utilities, food and beverage, and anything else that might pop up. I think it’s kind of silly to rely on sponsors to pay for absolutely everything for an un-established and (so far) un-backed event; especially considering that it’s a risk for any company to sponsor a brand new and untested event.

The good thing about these two guys is that they took Sandy and Sylvia’s event management workshop in February and have a really good understanding of the basics and the main ideas. They just need more guidance and influence from the event world instead of following a system that leads nowhere but in circles. This music festival is also a great cause because it is partnered with the Dodoma Youth Centre so I really hope they can manage to put this event together. The Youth Centre is pushing health education and prevention which is such a great message for the youth of this city. I think that intertwining messages of healthy living and cultural promotion is something that is important for youths to experience and learn about no matter where they are in the world.

After this meeting, we went to the market to try and find some scarves. I have a huge obsession with scarves and I really wanted to pick a couple up here because of all the Indian influences. Anthone and Bertram took us out in town and we just took the walking road to find some stalls. I found a few really nice scarves; one is a teal blue pattern and the other is all black with an imprinted pattern. I also ended up having my first raw material experience where for 4,000 SCH I got a metre of material. Sarah and I ended up splitting two different types of materials to make scarves from. They’re fraying a lot so I think I’m going to have to burn the frayed edges to keep them from falling apart; but we’ll see. Afterwards we went to a souvenir shop where I got to buy a really nice carved wooden elephant. I loved shopping with the guys because since they’re locals the vendors don’t bother selling us the tourist prices; I saved a lot of money today! That being said, we’ve also figured out how to get the local prices for taxi’s – just have to either get a local get one for you or tell the taxi driver straight up that you know exactly how much a trip actually costs. We were spending 10,000 SCH to drive across the city when in reality the real price is 5,000 SCH; basically charging us double!

 We went to VETA to see if we could still do the CAN8 voice over stuff but the teacher who knows the program had already left. They asked us to come in tomorrow though so we’ll be able to actually do it then (hopefully there won’t be any more surprise meetings lol).

In the late afternoon we all took some time to ourselves to do what we wanted back at the hotel. I FINALLY caught up on all of my blog posts and watched the food channel for a while (not a good idea). I was sooo hungry by the time we decided to head out for dinner that I was basically running to the taxi. Watching diners, dives and drive ins and seeing Guy eating amazing food for an hour basically drove me crazy; but it was one of those things where I couldn’t look away, everything looked so incredibly delicious! We all went out to the Pizzaria again and I think we were all really hungry by then. We ordered some bruchetta to start off with and it was FANTASTIC! Some had olive creamed onto them and others just had a mountain of chopped tomatoes with some provolone. Afterwards I ended up ordering the 4 frommagio pizza which was a great choice!

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Kat’s Funky Farm!

Traveling was definitely on our minds today; the students and a lot of the teachers left today to go to Arusha to work at a government conference (about a 10-12 hour drive). It would have been amazing if we got the chance to join them, but it’s a working tour so we weren’t invited to tag along. We decided to take some time to finally plan out our Zanzibar trip and our 6 hour layover in Zurich. There was a really nice hotel/hostel that one of Sarah’s friends recommended which is right on the coast, it’s called Zenji. We booked a room and so we have our accommodations all set and ready to go! The nice thing about this hotel too is that they offer excursions that you can sign up for on the spot. Some of them were so interesting; I would do all of them if I could! The one that really got my attention was called the “Blue Safari” which is a daylong dolphin swimming excursion! How amazing would that be?? We’ll see what we actually end up doing though considering just how many excursion and tour opportunities there are. We figured out too that we will be ferrying both ways to and from Dar es Salaam; that way we can store our luggage at the New Africa Hotel for the weekend and won’t have to worry about items getting stolen or having to lug everything around.

I did some research on Zurich and figured out that we can spend about 3 hours in downtown Zurich on our lay over. I love Switzerland but I’ve never explored Zurich, I’m so excited to have some European food, have real coffee and to check out the scenery!! We will have to take a train into the city, which I’m really excited for too since I’ve never been on any of the European rails. It’ll be nice too since it will give us a bit of a break from all the airports and planes.

Afterwards we worked on a new idea for an event to try and organize before we leave. We were thinking of combining our thank you party with our good-bye party and a fundraiser for the local orphanage. Hopefully we will be given full control over this one because it seems that the more people involved in a project here the less gets accomplished due to differentiating ideas of how things should be done and a big lack of fast communication.

Later in the evening we decided that we wanted to do something different for dinner so we got in touch with Bertram to see if he could recommend anything. He told us to check out Rose Garden for their BBQ and chips. I was excited to go somewhere new, but not overly excited to eat more meat and chips. The restaurant was kind of in the middle of nowhere but has a really fun pub vibe. We ordered a few drinks, some food and then went to play some pool. Pool was interesting too because the balls were smaller and lighter, and the white ball was tiny! I didn’t get a chance to play because I was too busy talking but it looked like it was harder that way.

I cautiously approached the whole chicken that we ordered to split between us and I was pleasantly surprised that it looked like normal BBQ’d chicken meat that was crisp and a bit juicy. It was such a nice change from the normal over cooked, tough, skinny chicken we normally get everywhere else. Bertram ended up ordering us some local gin which cost a whopping 3,000 SCH ($1.50 CDN) for a micky. Needless to say, we had a good time; especially when we got to take pictures with a bunch of life sized faux safari animals! Lots of fun and hopefully we’ll go back again before we leave for Zanzibar next week! Heather was making fun of us and has dubbed our little excursion “Kat’s Funky Farm” hahahaha

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Green Events Presentation

I had another early day trying to get a little bit more preparation in before presenting the event management material. We were at VETA around 8:30 setting up and getting the projector and speakers ready. While we were doing that, a group of girls helped us to clean the hall and to set up the chairs and tables in “U” shapes so that all the students would be able to see and hear us. We wanted to make sure that there was as much interaction between us and the students as we could.

Our first presentation was at about 9:30 with about 30 students. It was hard to tell just how the presentation was going to go over as soon as we asked the class “what is event management?”  Everyone was just staring at us with blank expressions even when we let them know that we had treats and toys. Finally, one of the girls spoke up and asked us to define what an event even was. I was pretty thrown off by that, but as soon as we explained what an event was, it seemed to make more sense to the students. It was a lot of fun presenting material to a group of students, I felt like a semi real teacher which was a nice change of pace. The students seemed happy to be learning something new, and they were really excited to see a video that I shot last semester at Algonquin of a bluegrass band. They had never heard anything like it before so it was fun to watch their expressions; and some of them were even dancing and swaying to it – made my day! We got them to divide up into groups, assigned them an event and had them list details as to what goes into an event as a whole. We then got them to present their findings to the class. Some of the presentations were so detailed and organized it was really interesting to listen to and see what they had already learned in a half hour. Unfortunately, I think we lost their focus when we started to introduce recycling initiatives. It isn’t something that they really do besides recycling glass bottles. I hope that they took something away from the environment portion of our presentation considering how much garbage and litter could be properly disposed of rather than just burned.

The second group that we presented to was a bit bigger (about 40 students) and they were a bit more fun to present to because they were more vocal. We got a lot of the same reactions to different concepts which we got from the first group; but there was a clear difference in their investment to better understand what we were teaching. One of the students approached me at the end of our presentation to ask about fundraising. This isn’t a normal event that happens here and so it’s hard concept for people to wrap their heads around. I explained that if a charity or non-for-profit organization needs funds, they can put on an event to raise money for whatever it is they need. I found it really moving that he seemed so interested in the idea, and also confused as to how fundraisers aren’t common place, especially in an area like this with respected and known non-profits and charities. Overall, the presentations went over really well, and hopefully the students who were interested in this career path will push the school into implementing the program (they already have all the teaching material).

Later in the day, we met up with Bertram who is one of the event management people at the school (hopefully he will be teaching it once the program is brought in). He ended up giving us a bottle of local red wine from Dodoma to test out. When we got back to the hotel we decided to go for Chinese food which was an amazing choice because of how well it went with the wine. I got sizzling duck and mushroom again, which was really tasty with the wine!

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Sunday Picnic, Shopping, Beers & Goodbyes

Sunday was a bit hectic in terms of trying to get things done for Monday’s presentation. The presentation focuses on event management and what it is, as well as, how events can be environmentally friendly. Sarah and I basically just went through all of our courses from last year and created an hour presentation out of it. We decided that since most of the students are not strong in English and may be a bit shy, to bring some candy, toys, pens and paper for incentive.

Later on we had lunch and just had a make shift picnic at the hotel from our leftovers from Mikumi. After, we all went into town to do a little bit of souvenir shopping. I wasn’t in a big spending mood and after watching Sarah and Heather barter for a half hour I decided to hold off for the day. After that we opted for a local bar (where we went for the bridal send-off committee meeting) for a drink. I really like this bar because of the adorable stray cats that are around and that no one speaks any English which makes things more interesting and authentic.

We found out that Rebecca had finished everything that she needed to, so she was leaving for Canada on Monday. We decided to give her full control over where she wanted to eat for dinner and do whatever she wanted to do that night. We ended up staying at the hotel for dinner and decided to go to a local bar to listen and dance to some live music (the same live band bar that Lucas had taken us to last Sunday). We decided to invite all the teachers and Lucas to come out but only a few responded that they would make it out. Lucas ended up joining us for dinner and then we headed out to the bar. The band was the same one as last week, but they were still really good. The tempo of the music is so slow it makes it hard for me to keep up my energy levels up and I get more tired thinking about how early I have to get up the next morning; so we ended up leaving around 11pm or so. Rebecca ended up staying until 1am or 2am and danced the night away; she was definitely having a total blast.

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Mikumi National Park!

Today was an early one.  I got up at 5am to give myself a bit of time to get ready and organized before getting picked up at 6am. VETA set us up with transportation and a driver to take us to Mikumi National Park; and by transportation I mean a tiny Toyota Odo and by driver I mean the IT Tech at the school, Rodney (haha). It was way cheaper this way and was an experience I won’t ever forget!

From Dodoma to Morogoro it’s about 3 hours and then another hour or so before hitting the park. Driving is always interesting, especially over long distances on the main highway; lots of bicyclists, pedestrians and other obstacles like transport trucks and speed bumps. It should realistically have taken us half the time but there are only two lanes for traffic and the congestion is bad since there is only 1 highway connecting Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. It also takes a long time because of the way the towns along the way are set up. The towns overlap the highway, so there are speed bumps through them so that people have a chance to potentially cross the street (still really dangerous). After a while, the constant speeding and slowing is hard to have patience for and hard on the stomach! But it’s the only way to get around so it’s just one of those things I had to suck up.

One thing that drove me crazy on the way there and on the way back was Rodney’s idea of old school music. I was assuming MC Hammer, Marky mark, and other pop/rap old school bands; I was very wrong. We listened to the same 3 songs on a 4 hour drive – a Michael Jackson song with Maracas, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston – Listening to IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII WILLLLLLL ALLLLLLLWAYYYYYYYYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUU, maracas and Mariah just about drove me insane – I find a lot of people here only listen to a few songs at a time instead of a variety like I’m used to.

After 4 long hours, we finally reached the last highway leading up to the park. On this stretch of road there were baboons just roaming for food, but it got us all really excited (plus they’re really cute!).

It was $20 US to get into the park which really wasn’t too bad considering how long we stayed in the park. When we made our way in, the first thing we saw was more baboons; we got to see a mom baboon with her baby on her back which was absolutely adorable! Right now it’s considered the rainy season (even though I’ve been here for two weeks and haven’t seen it rain here yet); so animals are in their mating season and have already started to give birth to their offspring. The park is big but not huge, we made our way through the circuits and landed at the hippo pond where people are allowed to get out of the car and walk around. At first we didn’t see anything, but after a little while all we could hear was big pig snorts; we turned around and all we could see is a bunch of hippo noses coming up for air. They didn’t fully come out of the water or open their mouths, but we did get to at least see them swim around with their heads out of the water. Also, the reason we aren’t allowed out of the car other than at the hippo pond is because of something called Tse-Tse flies who carry sleeping disease. These bugs are everywhere that there is tall grass which is basically the whole park, unfortunately. I did take my chances outside of the car to get a better picture of a giraffe. A couple flies managed to get into the car so we had a couple minutes of fly hunting, just to make sure no one would get bit.

We drove around for a while without really seeing anything; I was a happy to be there but a bit disappointed that we hadn’t come across anything on a more intimate level. We were taking the path back to the entrance when all of a sudden we spotted an elephant in some tall grass. We decided to watch it for a little bit to see if maybe it would walk over to a less grassy area, so that we could take some better pictures. The elephant started to walk towards the road and as it did so, we realized that the elephant was actually a mom and her baby was right beside her! They made their way across the road and ended up going to a small mud pit to cool off. As we were watching them and taking pictures, Rodney starts to point and laugh and said “There’s another one!” We all turned around and saw a big bull elephant! We think that he was the dad making sure that we weren’t a threat to his family and then joined them, and they walked off together. It was so amazing to see these animals interact with each other and us! The other animals that we saw were warthogs, zebras, and antelope. I really wanted to see a lion or cheetah or some kind of big cat, but they’re not out during the afternoon because it’s too hot for them.

On our way out of the park, along the highway, we got to see a ton of elephants, baboons and giraffes. It was really nice to see them when we were leaving because it was almost like getting more for my money (even though we were in the park for about 2 hours). It took about 5 hours to get back to the hotel, fully loaded with Celine Dion and Mariah Carey (thank god for Ipods!!!).  I’m hoping to make another African trip sometime in my lifetime and visit the Serengeti and as many other national parks as I can!

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Marketplace Madness

This morning was nice because there wasn’t really a schedule. Sarah and I had to go to the bank, get some snacks and other errands before we headed over the VETA to determine a few things. We met with Anthone and the Registrar and were told that 60 kids are going to Arusha for a presidential conference and at first it was for a full week, but they’ve since changed it to only be a couple of days. We were a bit concerned because we were going to present to hospitality students on Monday, so if no one was available we would end up teaching other faculties about things that may or may not be of interest to them. But, since they changed it we should be in the clear for next week.

We met with the Registrar to discuss if he had written and sent any municipal letters to the local authorities involved with the piece of land they plan to develop. He insists that it takes two weeks to do this, so we had to really push him to realize that it could be accomplished in a couple days rather than weeks; I still don’t think he believes that it can happen that quickly for some reason though, so we’ll see if anything even starts moving on the environmental project. It’s strange to have such a clear idea of what the first steps are to propose something like this, and not be on the same page as the person in charge of actually doing it.

Anyway, after (hopefully) given the registrar some motivation to get started on things, Sarah and I decided to go shopping for fruit at the big fruit market. We had heard that it was massive but had no idea until we got there. All you can smell is sweet oranges and rotting sardines – such a weird smell – but once we were a bit used to it, it wasn’t too bad. We ended up getting a bunch of bananas, a mango, a papaya and a cucumber for our big trip tomorrow! The produce is all imported but it’s still a lot fresher and healthier than what we get at home (no chemicals). The Market is so packed with people that it’s hard to physically get anywhere and harder still to keep our bearings as to where we are, and how we get out; it just never seems to end!

It was a last minute realization today that on the way to Mikumi National Park and when we’re on the safari, there won’t be any food around;  so glad we realized it last night so that we could prepare a little bit for it. Hopefully at the end of the day we can stop in Morogoro for a big dinner or something!

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One Night in Italy

Today, the focus was on the presentation that we have to put on for Monday next week. I’m excited to put it on and educate the students on some important environmental ideas to keep in mind such as reducing pollution on land and in the air. I’m a bit nervous though because I’m not a teacher and I don’t know how well we will be understood since English isn’t well understood by the majority of students at VETA. We decided to implement as many videos as we can to try and get the students more interested in the material, and even if they can’t understand it at least there will be visuals for them to follow along with.

In the afternoon we got a text from Lucas inviting us to St. Gasper to take a swim in the new pool. Its been hot and it was such a nice change of pace so we jumped at the chance. The pool was a bit cool, but not as cold as I know my pool can get so I didn’t complain – just jumped in! When we were ready to leave we realized that we couldn’t because the president of Tanzania was just leaving and had closed down all the surrounding roads for safety precautions. We probably waited for a good half hour or so before the man at reception could confirm a taxi for us. We were so excited to get out of there though because we had excellent dinner plans for the night.

We headed to the most random restaurants that you could think of, considering that I’m in the middle of Tanzania – a Pizzaria! This “L’eone Africano” Pizzaria is owned by Italians who actually met each other here in Dodoma while doing some kind of religious work in the city. Leave it to Italians to create such a romantic story of how they met and how they started a life together right where they met. The food was spectacular! I had a vegetarian pizza, which just had sautéed vegetables on it; it was so good I ate the whole thing! The night was also eventful at the restaurant because of a factor that we had never really considered. The restaurant is just an open circular dome, which looks like a big traditional African hut, with no doors or windows. We saw the mosquitos and stray cats but it wasn’t until we all heard a big “THUD” on the table that we realized that there was also lizards!! It looks like the gecko was trying to get bugs that were attracted to the light on the ceiling and fell right onto our table. Luckily, he fell before we got our food, otherwise he would have landed in Rebecca’s spaghetti! I’ll definitely visit the Pizzaria again before I leave.

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Déja vu

On Wednesday morning we had our meeting with Rachel from the Dodoma YWCA to help her with her fundraiser. She had already had a visit from an event manager teacher last February and had filled out the laid out step-by-step paperwork that was left with her; but she was having trouble coming up with ways to raise more money and awareness. Sponsorship isn’t a well understood relationship here, so it was hard to change her mind to see it as a win/win situation for her and any companies involved. We also helped to stress that since this is an initiative to raise money for a new YMCA building, that she should look into getting construction, landscaping, utility and telecom companies involved in sponsorship. That way if they help raise money for the building, they are also raising money for their own companies. I’m not sure how much money will be raised in the end since her monetary goal for this event was really high ($400,000) but there is an issue that may come up if she doesn’t raise a good amount by the end of July. The YWCA was given a plot of land for free, and basically the land can be taken away at any time if a new development company becomes interested in it; but if she even just starts on the new buildings foundation then they wouldn’t have to worry about it. I’m hoping that she takes our sponsorship advice because I think that’s the only way she’ll get anywhere near the events goal.

After our meeting Rachel took us to the building across the street from the YWCA to show us the classes that are taught through this program. We were introduced to a class of sewing students who are learning to make garments. They start off by hemming and sewing newspapers into the proposed patterns and once they’ve developed their skills they get to move onto material. The garments that they make are sold in the market and the girls will custom fit any material that is brought to them. I might have to have them make me a skirt; the patterns are gorgeous!

We went to VETA in the early afternoon to see what we had on the go to help with the bridal send off. Cyril approached us once we got there and informed us that he wanted us to observe the bride getting ready and sent us into town to a local salon (saloon as they call it lol). It was in an odd area, on the second level of an old building and through a few random back halls and staircases, but we found it. It wasn’t too hard to miss tough once we saw the bright florescent hot pink and lime green colour scheme. The salon was pretty bare, just a few shelves, mirrors and a younger man painting the bride-to-be’s toes and taking nail polish from a bag on the floor. It was a bit awkward since no one in the room spoke English (not even sure if they knew why we were there) but we got to see the intricate red, gold, black and white pattern that she was getting done on her nails; it was really beautifully done.

Later on in the evening, around 8pm we were driven to the same hall that we were at for the last wedding reception last week. It was better decorated, and more colour coordinated; the colours used were red, gold, white and silver. Something that we learned very quickly is that this bridal send-off party was VERY similar to the wedding reception that we went to last week. It turns out that there are a total of 4 ceremonies; the kitchen party, the bridal send-off party, the ceremony and the reception. The send-off party and the reception are actually basically the same things except the send-off is for the bride and her family while the reception is for the groom and his family. There must be so much money going into these types of functions! Basically, these families are hosting 200 people over 4 days of non-stop – set up, tear down, food, drinks, clothes (all different dresses for different occasions), MC action and entertainment! I thought Western weddings were getting too over the top… Not anymore! (Also, had to add the cake firework picture for a bit more emphasis – lol)

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African Queen

We got picked up from the hotel this morning at 8:30am so that we could attend our long awaited professional meeting to sort out schedules and job descriptions. Everybody was there including the English teachers, the registrar and the event management teachers. We figured out about 4 projects that we can work on while we’re here. The issue that we keep running into is that we just don’t have the time here to put on some of these events and projects, so we agreed that we would make event packages and include everything that they need to pull these off without us physically being around.

The first project is an environmental initiative that will have to be a step by step process. The land that we want to use is a dirt path that is owned by the government but has been ignored and currently used as a dumping ground. So in order to even step foot in this project we need permission from specific government officials, which could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (I’m betting on a few weeks, the pace is really slow and it’s hard to get anything accomplished quickly or promptly). After getting permission there will be a clean-up event that will be oriented towards the VETA students, so that they get some exposure to organized events and to gain more experience. After that step there will be a marketing initiative to try and bring in 3-5 ecofriendly businesses who would want to set up along this nice clean path. Then there will be a kind of grand opening to reveal a new clean environment that promotes some kind of sustainability. The main goal that I get from this is to clean it up and to make it more populated so that it can be viewed as a safer place to walk since it’s kind of a sketchy area.

Our other project is to work with one of the event management teachers at VETA to observe and help in any way we can with a Bridal send-off party which I mentioned in my last post. It will be held at the same venue that was used for the wedding that we attended last weekend.

Another event that we will be actually putting on ourselves is a “Thank you” party to the VETA faculty for having us here and for being so hospitable. We are going to be incorporating a fundraising aspect to this event by raising money for a local orphanage. This is also going to heavily involve the VETA students so that they can get more exposure.

Finally, we will be helping a woman that works for the YWCA to come up with a game plan to put on a fundraiser. We will work with her and give her all the necessary tools to pull off an event to raise money for a new YWCA building. We are going to meet with her tomorrow, and I’m hoping that she is receptive to our way of putting on events. I’ve been finding that most individuals here just keep everything in mind instead of writing things out and creating records.

We have also volunteered our time next Monday to teach an environmental events class to about 70-80 students in two 2 hour sessions. We really wanted to bring up some health related issues that could arise from such practices as burning garbage, all the time and everywhere (that’s all you can smell in the city); and other things such as recycling at events and how things can be reused and properly disposed of. We still need to do a nice bit of research but we have PowerPoints from last year on this issue that we will be implementing into our lecture. Another thing that we will need to do is go over the basic event management elements and do a thorough but brief introduction of the topic for students who may not even know what it is.

After reaching an agreement as to what we were supposed to do we were invited to have some henna done for the bridal send-off party tomorrow. We were driven to the bride’s mother’s house, where one of the relatives drew the patterns on us. None of the family members there spoke any English so it was hard to explain what I wanted. I tried to point out to one of the women that I wanted a small henna tattoo from my wrist to about 3 inches up my arm. I ended up getting a full sleeve from my fingertips to just past my elbow! It was almost like getting a massage and I didn’t want to ruin the design so I just gave the girl full range to do what she wanted with my arm. Apparently it’s a symbol that tells others that you are high class. I get a lot of compliments and stares from it already; the registrar even told me that I should marry an African Prince because of my apparent status (lol)!

We were later invited to go to dinner with some of the teachers at Chacko ni Chacko (what’s mine is mine). I’m assuming that it’s a play on words describing that their food is so good, that you won’t share it with anyone. We were told that it was one of the best places to get good chicken. After my adventures, I wasn’t totally sold on it but I decided I’d go and still experience some cuisine. We had to walk for about a half an hour, in the dark, on the side of a highway; while dodging cars and people on our way. That was definitely an experience in itself that I really don’t think I need to repeat! When we got there (safe and sound!) we ordered some chicken and chips to share between about 8 of us. I was very hesitant but forced myself to at least try a drumstick – it was actually not bad at all and much better than what I had eaten earlier in the week. The teachers walked us home which was really nice of them, and we got a really fantastic view of the stars since there isn’t a lot of light pollution. Really glad we got home a little earlier than normal so I can get a real full night of sleep!

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