Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Day-to-Day Life in a Small African Village

Africa, Tanzania
Grades 3-5, Grades 9-12
Cross-Cultural Understanding, Language Arts & Literature, Science

Students will learn about and experience just a bit of what it's like living in a village in Tanzania—from language to geography to health and hygiene issues.



After reading the letter and participating in class activities students will be able

  • To locate Tanzania and its capital city on a map.
  • To compare aspects of school and home life in the United States with those in Tanzania.
  • To describe some of the health issues in East Africa. 



  1. Distribute the letter to the students. Read the first two paragraphs to the class or let students take turns reading it aloud. Use a globe or a world map to locate Tanzania. Then on a map of Africa or of Tanzania, show the students the new capital, Dodoma, in the center of the country. Ask the students to find Morogoro to the east, and help them point approximately to where Richard lives between the two cities. Ask in which direction his village lies in relation to Mount Kilimanjaro, and in relation to Ngorongoro Crater (both of which lie to the north).
  2. Ask the students to try to define "journal." After their suggestions, confirm that the literal meaning is a daily account of activities. Point out that a diary is a kind of journal. (Some students might be familiar with Anne Frank's diary.) Can the students name one or two newspapers with "journal" in their name? What reason does Richard give for keeping a journal?
  3. After reading the next two paragraphs aloud, ask students whether they can infer anything from the fact that the boy waking up the community uses a truck wheel as a bell. (Does it suggest that the school has a lot of money?or very little? Can the students extend their inference to suggest the economic state of the community?)
  4. Ask the class what they think a rooster "says" when it crows. After the students undoubtedly identify "cock-a-doodle-do," acknowledge that Richard describes the voice as "cock-a-doodle-doo," as most Americans would. Ask the class where they think that expression comes from. The students will probably figure out that it's an imitation of the rooster's sound. Do the students think that's what roosters "say" worldwide? The students might be surprised to learn that other cultures around the world describe the sound differently. In Germany, for example, it's kiki-ri-kee
  5. Can students guess why it's important for Richard to sleep under a mosquito net? If students do not suggest the reason, explain that the net is to protect Richard from being bitten by mosquitoes that carry malaria. Check the students' reading comprehension by asking what is meant by the Kiswahili word kuku.
  6. Read the next four paragraphs with the students. When they finish, have each student make a list of at least four features of Tanzanian schools that interested them. (The features might include a daily assembly; school uniforms; the fact that the principal is called a headmaster; students remain in one classroom; high school is called secondary school; English is a "foreign" language for most students.) Make a chart on the board or overhead that lists all the features the students name. Which of these features is different from schooling in the United States? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for the students trying to learn math and science in English.
  7. Read the remainder of the letter with the students. Discuss the importance of health education in a developing nation such as Tanzania. Explain the extent of the HIV/AIDS scourge throughout Africa. Make connections between Richard's roles as a school health educator and facilitator and the work of groups such as UNICEF and other world organizations that are addressing the problem. Explain that nongovernmental organizations such as UNICEF also educate people about nutrition, clean water, vaccinations, the use of medicine, medical care, and monitoring babies' weight.
  8. Ask students as a group to describe the various roles Richard fulfills as a Peace Corps Volunteer. How many of them are directly associated with his school? What do students think his effect will be upon the townspeople in the two years he serves there? (What kinds of things will Richard convey to his students and others in town?)
  9. Ask students to take a bucket bath at home the next time they wash, like the one Richard describes in his letter. To do this, instead of running a bath or taking a shower, they should step into the tub or shower stall with a bucket of warm water and a plastic mug or other plastic cup-size container. Tell them to dampen themselves, soap up, and rinse, using only the water in one bucket, employing the cup to pour the water over themselves. In class discussion the next day, see if students felt that they were able to clean up satisfactorily. Explain that many Peace Corps Volunteers, as well as the people they live with worldwide, bathe this way. Did this exercise make them realize anything about the amount of water really necessary to bathe?compared with what people in the United States usually use? 

Frameworks & Standards

 Enduring Understandings

  • Living in another culture often requires many changes of habit.
Essential Questions
  • Which aspects of life are similar regardless of which culture one lives in?

National Science Education Standards
Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Content Standard C: Life Science 

Browse More Lesson Plans