Hello GLA students of Moshi Session 2,
We had a great time and were very pleased with all the things we accomplished together. We had great times, and challenging times and what we hope for most of all is that we all grew from the experience. In two weeks you have impacted the lives of staff, the communities you have lived and worked in, and each other. Thank you for choosing to spend two weeks of your summer with us and choosing this particular service learning program in Tanzania.
This time capsule letter is an opportunity to reflect on the time we shared in beautiful Moshi. One of my fondest memories we shared was celebrating a birthday and the impromptu dance party that followed. It was great to see everyone have so much fun together and bonding in your home away from home. Another of my favorite memories was the Fourth of July celebration organized by our leaders of the day and local staff. Our leaders of the day showed true initiative and students and staff were very appreciate of it.
As far as challenges were concerned it was inspiring to watch all of you working with your students despite the language barriers and class sizes. Thank you for putting in so much effort and having empathy for your students. These two weeks will have a much deeper impact on the community than you can observe. I cannot end this letter without mentioning the Ukulele jam sessions that added so much warmth and love to the program. It brought us so much joy to see everyone together and joining in the sing-a-longs. Lots of love from Tanzania and Karibu Tena!! or Welcome back again!!
By the time you read this, you will probably be home with your family or in a college dorm
room or coming back from an after-school activity, somewhere on the other end of the
world. Right now, I am sitting on the couch on home base, smelling spices wafting in from
the kitchen, listening to Peter and Lodrick speaking in fast-paced Swahili and folks singing
(well, more like shouting) along to some Katy Perry song outside of the boys’ bedrooms,
and reflecting on the past three weeks and all the triumphs and struggles we shared as,
together, we navigated a culture completely different than our own.
We danced to drum
music with Mount Meru towering over us in the distance. We felt the cool air against us as
we descended into the Ngorongoro Crator. We dove into fresh, icy waters at the base of
Mount Kilimanjaro, or watched our friends do so and shivered vicariously. We said the
words “Asante” and “Karibu” until the words became stuck in our heads. Some of us taught
in front of a group of students for the first time and experienced the challenges of trying to
convey messages across a language barrier.
We delved into complex topics in mentor
groups, pushed through discomfort, and grew deeper our capacities to listen and
understand. We laughed together, sometimes cried together, and made friends who might
stay with us for the rest of our lives. Most importantly, we learned a great deal about
ourselves: who we are, how we handle conflict, what it means to step up to lead, and the
ways in which our own identities and home contexts inform how we relate to the world
As I sit here, I am wondering where you will be in six months, how you will have processed
these experiences when you read this letter, and how you will continue to be compelled to
enact change in your own communities. On our last day in Arusha, a few members of the
group collected memories from the trip and responded to the questions: “what is one thing
you could say to yourself, as you were a month ago” and “what is one lesson you have
learned over the past three weeks.”
I have compiled some of these messages on the next age. I hope that, wherever you are, you can take a moment to sit with them, reflect on our
journey together, and remember all that we shared.
Wow what an amazing three weeks! I cannot believe how time flew by since our time in Tanzania. It feels like just yesterday we were on the safari taking pictures of elephants, lions and zebras. Who remembers eating chapati or parachichi at home base along with hearing Mama Simba’s laugh or Lodrick asking us to eat more? Who misses mentor groups or buying some really cool stuff at the Maasai market? What about our trip to the Boma village and hearing the Maasai warrior speaking about his 11 wives? In case you guys were not aware, Sauti the cat was getting ready to give birth to kittens and the entire local staff were finding the perfect location for Sauti to rest. Most of you are getting ready to head back to high school so I hope the remainder of your summers were productive.
We wanted to remind you of a few things as you reminisce about your time in Tanzania. The first thing is that you guys truly made a positive in the children you taught and played with. After you guys left, the children were constantly asking the international staff why you had not come back the next day. It was difficult to explain that you guys were only here for three weeks but they always spoke fondly of you.
Watching you guys teach and play with the children brought many smiles to the international team because we know there are caring teenagers in the world wanting to make a difference. The second thing is to remember to pay it forward and share your experiences with someone who might not get an opportunity to go on a GLA trip. Share your epic pictures, your funny stories and everything in between. Sharing memories will always bring a smile to your face at random times. Lastly, please keep in touch with all of us. The international and local staff are always there for you if you need letters of recommendation or if you still want to speak about some of the topics we discussed such as HIV or FGM. We are also simply a friend when you need it.
Thank you so much for all of your contributions and dedication to the program. I believe we had a great first session and you guys bonded like crazy! The local staff along with the international staff would like to wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors. The international staff is looking to come back next summer and work with GLA again so we hope to see you again. Remember that we nakupenda you guys!
Here are some funny moments from the trip:
- Remember watching RuPaul’s Drag Race after dinner as a group?
- We celebrated 5 birthdays and we bought you guys each a delicious Tanzanian cake!
- Jason and Brianna were the first two students that arrived and you guys were so confused
- Fighting over which safari car you guys wanted Lotha to be in
- Attempting to dance with the coffee ladies during the excursion. They were so good!
- Listening to Rudy’s scary stories and not being able to sleep at night
- Sarah’s laugh was so addicting
- Tyler’s teaching skills were on point
- Lodrick wanting us to eat more food even though we were about to explode