Our virtual presenter was Peace Corps Volunteer Calista (Cali) Holman from Shell Lake, WI. In July 2019, she began what was going to be a 27-month post-graduate appointment as a Peace Corps Secondary School Science Education Volunteer in Tanzania, Africa. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Cali was required to return to Wisconsin earlier this month.
Cali graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI where she majored in biology and minored in chemistry. During her time at Viterbo, she participated in two short term study abroad experiences to Costa Rica and South Africa. 
Peace Corps Mission is to promote world peace by fulfilling three goals:
  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

About Tanzania

Though its official languages are Swahili and English, Tanzanian citizens speak over 120 tribal languages. The economy is dependent upon agriculture, which accounts for 25 percent of the country’s GDP and supports 65 percent of the national’s workforce.
Almost half of Tanzanians live below the international poverty line and the median age of Tanzanians is 17.9 years. Despite achieving almost universal access to primary education in 2007, Tanzania’s enrollment has been on the decline, with roughly two million children aged 7-13 not attending school. Two of the largest factors affecting the enrollment of girls in school are early marriage and adolescent pregnancy. More than one-third of all girls are married by the age of 18, and pregnancy led to nearly 3,700 female students dropping out of school in 2016 alone.

Cali's journey

After 10 weeks of training, Cali received her site assignment, which was the Malibwi Secondary School. The school consisted of:
  • 12 classrooms, four of which double as dormitories
  • One completed laboratory
  • A library
  • The administration building
  • An outdoor kitchen
  • Eleven total teachers
  • 293 students
Cali had her own house, a simple accommodation with a single propane tank to cook with, no running water, refrigeration or freezer, and electricity that often went off. Students brought her water daily.
Cali taught biology, and used a lecture with chalk board format for 95 percent of her teaching, as students do not have textbooks or resources.
As a secondary project, Cali was the advisor for the FEMA Club. FE stands for female and MA stands for male. FFEMA clubs are one branch of a countrywide Femina Hip organization. The vision of Femina hip is a “gender equal society in which youth are confident and competent change-makers with helathy lifestyles who acively partiicpate in the development and well being of Tanzania.” Four main topics are emphasized by the club: sexual and reproductive health, economic empowerment, citizen engagement and youth connect. The FEMA club also worked on planting trees – and lots of them.
She also worked with Friends of Usambara out of Lushoto to teach students about starting a tree nursery.
Cali shared many photos of life in Tanzania. The variations in transportation and the beautiful colors of the market were just two of the many interesting aspects of life there. She made many friends in her short time there.
Though Cali’s visit was cut short by the advent of COVID-19, she may have an opportunity to return. Adjusting to life back home during a pandemic has been her latest endeavor.
To learn more about Cali's Peace Corps experience, you can read her blog.