My first day of speaking at a school in Tanzania was hugely memorable on two counts.
First, because I was speaking at a school in Tanzania.
Second, because the night before I arrived, a UFO crashed on the grounds.
On 1/20/14, I presented to four groups on my first of four days at the International School of Tanganyika in Dar es Salaam—one large assembly and three humor workshops.
gym in which the group assembly was held
spacious library in which the workshops were held
This library so far from home held many reminders of home—books by (and, in at least one case, about) author/illustrator friends of mine:
(Not pictured: books by other friends including Jenni and Matt Holm and Chris Barton.)
Seen around the campus:
I loved the school and the kids seemed wonderfully engaged during my talks.
But I was not the biggest buzz on campus.
It’s hard to compete with evidence of alien life.
Upon arriving (just shy of 7:30 a.m.), we saw a phalanx of heavy-duty guards standing around something covered by a tarp and blocked off by yellow caution tape:
I heard kids speculating it was a fallen satellite, a bomb, or a big crab…any of which would have been scary in their own ways.
At some point during my assembly, the tarp came off and the jaws dropped:
Because it sure looked like a UFO. And I had just talked about Superman, who was sent to Earth in a small spaceship...not unlike what this resembles.
Part of the ground around it was scorched. The kicked-up soil was reddish, different than the brown dirt underneath. Some kids even reported seeing something white moving inside, and some found green goo on the ground nearby.
Some brave boys took soil samples.
By day’s end, even parents were crowding around the mysterious, metallic object.
We were told scientists would be coming out later this week to examine it.
One scientist, however, had been on the scene from the start. She is in 1st grade:
Soon after the staff and kids learned of the object, one enterprising teacher put up canvases nearby for people to write what they thought it was. The answers are fascinating and often funny:
I am hoping the mystery will be solved by my last day here…
1/29/14 addendum: What happened next.