Hello! I arrived in Tanzania on the 18th and began training Class 7 at Usa River Academy with the Non-Violence Project’s ‘Schools for Peace’ program. I first want to give a little background on The Non-Violence Project (NVP) and share how this training came to be in Usa River with the children of TFFT.
The Non-Violence Project Foundation is a Swedish organization that motivates and engages young children and adults in a learning process that inspires them to solve conflicts peacefully. Their goal is to educated one hundred million people around the world. NVP is the largest crew on the planet working to achieve non-violence. It is a fantastic education program that focuses on self-esteem, self-confidence, listening and communication, emotions and needs, dreams, and most importantly conflict and violence.
I participated in the St. Andrews University NVP teachers training program this past year and saw what an effective conflict management program it is. I thought it would be wonderful to introduce to the children of TFFT at Usa River Academy. I really believe in the Schools for Peace program and felt confident it would have a positive effect on any child who went through the training.
I knew I was going to be in Tanzania at some point this summer and so I ran it by Meghann. Luckily she and the rest of TFFT team agreed to let me cover the NVP course with the children this summer.
Once we got started I realized how different the Tanzanian school system is from that of the US. One student told me, “Teachers are interested in what is in the books.” The system is much more systematic and truly does follow the books. One of the TFFT team members told me that I need to stress during the activities that there are no right or wrong answers. Creative, personal, thoughtful, and honest answers are a big part of the NVP program and so making it so the children were comfortable enough to speak in class was important. Once we got started and the kids realized that there really were no wrong answers, I felt them relax.
We started with the first activity, ‘Create Your Dream,’ and the students all listed the characteristics of their dream school. Some answers were, “To be free and decide what we want,” “I think if the teachers could be teaching well,” “Get allowed to have a walk outside of school on Saturdays,” and “Security.”
We ended the class with a quick introduction to conflict. Everyone in the class agreed that we all have conflict in our lives, all the time. However, they all said that conflict was unnecessary and disagreed with the statement that conflict can be good. Interestingly enough, after continuing with the program the next day and going over constructive conflict management, they had a different opinion.
As each day went on and as the children learned more about NVP, they became more confident participating in the discussions. I felt like things really clicked with the children on the third day and after that the training went especially well. It was really great to see the children engaged and excited about participating, discussing the topics with each other, and even sharing stories or personal experiences with the entire class.
My favorite exercise that we did was about role models. They each had to write the name of their role model, explain why that person is a role model, list the qualities that that person has that makes them a role model, and explain the effect that the role model has had on them. The children came up with some really thoughtful and interesting answers. Dixon, one of TFFT’s boys, said that Daniel, TFFT’s accountant was his role model because he is a good man and good friend. One girl wrote that Julius Nyere, Tanzania’s first president, was her role model because, “He advised the people to be in peace and he ruled the country in peace. He also advised for each and everyone to be educated.”
The symbol for NVP is an image of the non-violence statue, created in memory of the life of John Lennon. This statue is erected in 30 different places around the world with the most famous in front of the UN headquarters. The final activity was for the kids to draw their own knotted gun using any words or symbols they wanted. The results were wonderfully creative! One of the children wrote, “I know that I can. Nothing is impossible!”, around her knotted gun. Inscribed in his knotted gun Patrick wrote, “The world should stop all violence.”
At the end of the last day I asked the kids for some feedback, what the children enjoyed and what they felt they had learned. Joanne raised her hand and said, “I feel great. I will spread this word to the whole word if I get the chance to do so. I hope that we will form a club about the project.” I thought that was a great idea so I asked Joanne if she would please be in charge of setting up a club if she really wanted too. She was super excited and we exchanged emails so we can stay in touch about setting up the club.
Winifred volunteered to give feedback and told me, “I can now also help in reducing conflict in society.” One of the boys said, “This program told us how to solve conflict and live peacefully in school and in society and around the world.” The children all loved the program and they all seemed to agree they had gained valuable tools and skills that that will put to use in their everyday lives.
Thank you TFFT for giving me the opportunity to introduce NVP to these amazing kids! Thank you especially to Chloe Crocker for all your help, your rides to the school, and everything you did to help me organize the program here. I hope it was as great an experience for them as it was for me. Everyone else, thank you for reading! If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the project please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you again!