Our Volunteers: Rosaleen Smyth volunteering in Tanzania

Ruaha University College (RUCO), Tanzania

Tanzanian students will benefit from more trained teachers.
Ruaha University College (RUCO) is a constituent college of St Augustine’s University of Tanzania.

St. Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) is a secular and private institution for higher learning owned and managed by the Catholic Church. Neither SAUT nor RUCO discriminates on the grounds of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, disability or caste.

RUCO provides tertiary education for students in field such as Law, Information and Communication Technology, Arts and Social Sciences and Medical Science.

Despite a thorough search for a local Senior English Lecturer, RUCO has been unable to locate a suitably qualified person. As a result the principal, Rev. Dr Cephas Mgimwa, placed a request with Palms Australia for an experienced English lecturer to assist train future English teachers and lawyers, as well as developed the skills of local staff in tertiary training.

Rosaleen Smyth

Rosaleen SmythPalms Australia recruited Rosaleen Smyth to work for RUCO in Iringa for two years. She will work closely with local staff, sharing skills and expertise and contributing to long-term sustainable development.

Rosaleen has over 30 years experience in teaching, lecturing and research, including a PhD in African History, and the Australian public service, specifically in Indigenous Affairs.

She has worked in Samoa, Zambia, United Kingdom, Sudan, Australia, Fiji, United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.

Rosaleen’s expertise in Communication and International Affairs, combined with her broad cross-cultural experience, establish her as the perfect candidate for the job.

She has been described as having “great integrity of character” and her ability to relate and communicate across cultures have been highly praised.

Rosaleen Smyth’s farewell commUNITY newsletter

April 20, 2011

Hi professor.

It’s my hope that you are busy furthering our future through our examination scripts. God bless you always.

We appreciate your contribution to our academic prosperity, though we have nothing we can pay as compensation to you for enlightening us academically.

The phrase ‘thank you’ is very small morphologically, but very tough semantically if used from some one’s inner most heart.

I’m saying this by considering the complexity of some courses and the way you have been making them simple and real. You are more than a teacher. We have been facing difficulties in some of the courses and even our performance used to be not good. In other universities in our country, they would tell you that linguistics is one of the threatening subjects-but the case is contrary for RUCO students.

Thank you once again.
Pius, Damus Mpuga

Rosaleen, front left, with graduating students (back row) and colleagues (front row)
I have just left Ruco (Ruaha University College) Iringa in Tanzania after a splendid three year linguistic adventure. I never anticipated at the start of this mission that I would in the next three years be developing courses in English Structure, the History and Development of the English Language,  English Phonetics and Phonology, Semantics, English Oratory, Varieties of English,  English Morphology and  English Pragmatics. But that I did do, with a lot of help from the Internet and Amazon.com. I prepared complete sets of lecture notes for all those courses which were available to students after each lectures and marked hundreds of exams and assignments.

It was a great challenge for the students who had only been exposed to English from the secondary school to be faced with this linguistic smorgasbord developed by scholars with a cultural background which could be broadly defined as middle class, Anglo-American.  In our lectures we did not in linguistic parlance, share the same ‘universe of discourse’; so many examples used meant nothing to the students so we would have to work together to  find a common ground so that the concepts could be meaningful. And, it was actually, great fun.

Informal Choir practice at RUCO, Tanzania
In my last semester I acquired a mini-lap top (not too heavy for me to carry) and a portable data projector, which, at last, made PowerPoint lectures possible.  One day I arrived minus the equipment and Patrick, the third year class leader said,” Madam, where are your utensils?”  I laughed uproariously,   but when cross examined I found that scarcely a single student  in the class of over 100 knew what ‘utensils’ meant. I then went into an elaborate explanation cum pantomime (a frequent occurrence when we stumbled across vocabulary or cross-cultural  roadblocks) about utensils as kitchen tools. “Well, Madam”, said Patrick, “I am not going to stop speaking because I might use  wrong words which  make you  laugh at me.”  That is the spirit of the RUCO students they battle on despite all the problems  they  face in a developing country…when  student loans are late in coming, when the power cuts are frequent,  when they haven’t got text books and can’t afford computers, when they are debilitated by malaria…they battle on.  Their determination to succeed against the odds is inspirational.  I salute them.

Rosaleen

Hi professor. It’s my hope that you are busy futuring our future through our examination scripts-God bless you always. …we appreciate your contribution to our academic prosperity; we have nothing we can pay as compensation to you for enlightening us academically.
The phrase ‘thank you’ is very small morphologically, but very tough semantically if used from some one’s inner most heart.

I’m saying this by considering the complexity of some courses and the way you have been making them simple- real, you are more than a teacher. We have been facing difficulties in some of the courses and even our performance used to be not good. If you trace in other universities in our country, they would tell you that linguistics is one of the threatening subjects-but the case is contrary to RUCO students.

Thank you once again.

Food for thought

  • Rosaleen has just completed a 3 year placement with RUCO. How did staying for a longer period allow her to be of more use to the university than three one-year volunteers might have been?
  • Rosaleen speaks of perseverance of students in the face of many challenges; how does this compare to various common stereotypes of "the poor"?
  • What does this say about the importance of providing opportunities to exchange and gain skills?

The volunteer bug (new placements)

December 11, 2009

Peter and Elaine Smyth In 2010, Palms Australia will place Peter and Elaine Smyth at Divine Word University in Madang, PNG. They will work as a Legal Advisor and Personnel Manager respectively, training local staff to implement new legal, administrative and personnel policies. Their work will increase DWU’s capacity in building effective global partnership, improving […]

Click here to read the full article

Letter from the field (12 months)

October 23, 2009

The RUCO students (with the usual exceptions) are quite inspiring in the way that they cope with the kind of problems not faced by students I have taught at universities in Australia, Dubai and Taiwan.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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Tanzania

Population: 40,213,160

Area: 945,087 sq. km.

Median Age: 17.8

Literacy: 69.4 %

Languages: Kiswahili, Kiunguja, English, Arabic, many local languages

Tanzania was formed when newly independent Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged in 1964. It is home to Africa’s tallest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, largest lake, Lake Victoria (which it shares with Uganda and Kenya), and deepest lake, Lake Taganyika. It also hosts the famous Serengeti National Park. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. […]

More on Tanzania

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural.
It is man made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. - Nelson Mandela