Habari za leo? (How are you today?) My name is Chili, I’m currently serving as a Koica (Korea International Cooperation Agency; similar to the Peace corps program of the USA) volunteer in Tanzania.
Proudly speaking, I was a foreign exchange student at Emporia State University from 2010 to 2011 where I studied special education and theater. Studying at ESU gave me lots of opportunity. First of all I had a chance to communicate with students from other countries and it encouraged me to be involved in working in the international field. Second, I got introduced to many sport activities which have inspired my future lessons to my students. Disc Golf was one of them. Friends of mine at college enjoyed playing disc golf very much and they took me to disc golf courses all the time. And at that time I was taking professor Townsend’s APE class at ESU. APE is Adaptive Physical Education which is designed to provide physical education/recreation for persons with disabilities or special needs. I was lucky to have hands-on experience with various students with disabilities in a public setting throughout this class.
I have been in Tanzania since 2014 and I expect to be here 4 more months. I am working with students with visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability and albinism as a special educator. The region where I work is called Singida which is in the middle of country and is known for its cultivation of sunflowers to make cooking oil. Yes, it reminds me of being in Kansas. But as we say, ‘There is no place like Kansas!’ However, I couldn’t love being here more.
My students love sports. Just like other ordinary teenagers, each of them has their particular premier football team they love and spend most of their free time watching and playing sports. But sports that could include every level of student weren’t there. Many of the students with special needs were the last ones to be picked and often just left out.
That’s why I started the APE class. I teach APE classes every Friday morning. This semester I started the new program with Frisbee golf. Fortunately, one of the Finnish organizations called ‘Education through Sports’ donated 10 discs to my school and I was so ready to start the new program with my students because it was my favorite sport back in the States.
During the first few sessions I managed to teach how to throw discs but the problem was the goal. Making a real goal can cost too much and I wanted the students to make it themselves in a more affordable way. That’s why I and my friend Kyle started to make the goals from recycled materials. We had a hard time figuring out which kinds of materials would be suitable for the pole. We tried fire wood and steal bars, but it didn’t take too long to figure out a broken table umbrella was the best choice. The umbrella has perfect parts to tie ropes too and it is light enough to be easily moved. We connected the umbrella pole to 2 bicycle tires to make the basket on the bottom, and 1 iron ring on the top with rope. Old Pringle cans were hung from the iron ring to knock the discs into the basket. The following picture is of our first test throw.
We are still trying to figure out ways to involve more students with various disabilities and to try and make more goals so we can make a proper Frisbee golf course. All the work is worth it when I see my students’ smile while they play. That’s my source of energy and that’s my reason to be here. Thanks for reading my story and Karibuni Tanzania (Welcome to Tanzania!)