First Day with Colleagues (The Plane People)

Today was the first official day of IST responsibilities. This morning Cody and I headed out across the field to the primary campus with the other new hires. I would say there are about 20 in all between the two campuses and everyone is friendly and welcoming.We are building quite a Class of 2012 community.

Our meeting today  introduced us to the admin and enabled us to get some basic new hire business out-of-the-way.  This included me taking copious notes about things I do not know much about  (pensions specifically), making a to do list that turned out way to long, especially after just one working day, and being served a wonderful local lunch that I want to learn how to cook ASAP.

After sorting out some general housing business, we stumbled upon the IST campus housing hot topic for 2012: washing machines. As it turns out, the new housing, given to senior colleagues, includes them and the old doesn’t.

As many of you know, after talking to us this summer, Cody and I have hired a housekeeper to come three days a week to help with laundry due to the lack of a washing machine. I mean, all other cleaning tasks will be included, but the only thing I was not willing to do on my own was washing by hand and then ironing everything (sheets, towels, underwear… I mean everything) to keep the mango flies at bay. Needless to say, I would not have a housekeeper had I been given a washing machine, but I am not complaining at all; as many of you know, I am pretty flexible with those kinds of things.

As this topic was discussed at our meeting, our director of schools, David mentioned a TED Talk by Hans Rosling about “washing machine people.” Actually, this story had already been milling around the newbies since arrival because many had already had the discussion with David, but it was reiterated that the presentation would be a good clip to watch.

Well, Cody and I returned to our apartment and watched it promptly. It boils down to the fact that there are different groups of people throughout the world based on economic privileges and these different groups account for an unequal share of the energy use through the world. It is really worth a watch.

My personal take home message from this TED Talk is that while I am living in Tanzania, I am going to try to live less like a “plane person” and do my part to conserve the resources I am privileged to have on a daily basis. There is nothing like traveling the world to make you appreciate where you come from and help  put things into perspective. With that said, I pledge here, to do my part to put more washing machines in homes which will allow women to spend more time, as Hans argues, building literacy for themselves and their children and improving their quality of life.

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