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Introducing Teacher Stephanie

July 1, 2010 05:26 PM

Through the endowment for Christian education, Metro New York Synod funds two English-speaking teachers at Kibeta English Medium Primary School (KEMPS) in our companion synod, the North Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. Teacher Aaron Schutte joined the KEMPS staff in 2009. We are pleased to introduce our newest teacher, Stephanie Schmiege, who prepares to depart for two-and-a-half years in Bukoba in a few weeks.


Where are you from? What church are you a member of?
I’m from New York City. I’m a member of St. Luke’s, Times Square. I was born on Long Island and then lived in London for five years. We moved to New York City when I was 12 years old and I’ve been here since.


Congratulations on your recent college graduation! What did you major in?
I majored in biology and French and minored in visual arts at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.


What caused you to consider the position at KEMPS?
I actually visited Tanzania two-and-a-half years ago with my mom [former synod staff member Connie Duever] when she was bringing teachers over. We visited Gayle Kliever, who was a member of our congregation and who was teaching at KEMPS at the time. I fell in love with the school and the kids there. I hoped that there would be a position open when I graduated because I was interested in going back!


What were your impressions of Tanzania?
I remember thinking it was a beautiful country. When I arrived in Bukoba, I remember thinking that everyone was so welcoming: the congregation, Joyce [Lwakatare, principal of KEMPS], the students. Especially the students—they were smiling and eager to learn and wanted to know all about you. There was a general impression of community that enticed me to come back and learn more, spend more time there.


What challenges are you anticipating?
I’m sure there will be many challenges that will come up just in daily living. Moving to a new country is always challenging. I’ve lived abroad in England and in France, but this will be a completely different cultural experience. That will be exciting. I’m sure I will make mistakes and learn from them.

Teaching may be another challenge. I don’t have a degree in education, but I’ve worked a lot with kids in summer camps. I think I’ll draw a lot on those experiences and learn from Teacher Aaron as well.


What are you excited about?
The students! I love working with kids. The KEMPS kids made a huge impression on me and I was only there for a week. And I’m excited to learn from them, because their world is so different from ours.


Do you know how many classes you’ll be teaching? Where you’ll be living?
I don’t know how many classes I’ll be teaching yet. I’ll be living on campus, in the house where Gayle Kliever lived. She’s been telling me all about it. She even tells me that I have the only freezer and the kids come by for ice cubes!


When do you leave for Tanzania?
I leave on August 2. I’ll have a month or two in Bukoba to get settled and then I head to language training in Morogoro for six weeks. I like languages—I majored in French and also took German—so I’m excited to learn Swahili. I can’t wait to go!


Great! We will be praying for you as you embark on this adventure.



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