Time Capsule Letter
Dear GLA Young Leaders,
It is now many weeks after you have arrived home. Perhaps you are lying on your bed reading this (sans mosquito net). Perhaps you are sitting in class daydreaming about your time in Tanzania. Perhaps you are at your favorite coffee shop, drinking an amazing NOT instant cup of coffee with milk, meaning you are actually a baby calf! By now, you have acclimated to your regular life again. No more starch, no more 1,000 different ways to greet and respond! And yet, who you are and how you view and engage with this world has changed, and life, is just not quite the same.
There could not have been a more thoughtful, intelligent, hilarious, conscientious, and kind-hearted group of people to participate on the trip this summer. The energy you all brought during your service of teaching and painting, during the exciting activities, and when discussing powerful and thought-provoking topics contributed to the life-changing aspects of this program. We might have planned it, but you all made it.
You had Patandi students pull on your arms, students cry with you, students ask you for your bracelets, students write you love notes, and students inspired by your English teaching. You had dust in your lungs, arms screaming “stop,” and blue paint all over your clothes/body. You had fun excursions, evenings without the ability to stop laughing, and very long lectures from Lodrick!
Our trip was certainly packed with palpable contradictions and cultural juxtapositions. You were confronted by cultures and people with entirely diverging world views, and instead of shying away and feeling unbearable distress from these different perspectives, as young leaders, you welcomed the discomfort and played around with it by asking questions, being open-minded, and debriefing afterwards. You gave it your all and with each passing day, I saw in you new comfort-levels and leadership skills.
I hope you are all back in your routines, enjoying daily life, yet with a soft haze of leadership and cross-cultural understandings covering your view of the world. Keep teaching others, listening to others, caring for others, bringing your amazing positive energy, and questioning what is happening around you.
Remember the personal goals you created for yourselves during mentor groups and your group goal. Read your books, keep up with the book club, and continue to communicate with one another. Don’t forget that Eunice and myself will always be around. Anytime you want to reach out, we would love to hear from you.
All the best,
“Lets go GLA!
We had such a memorable time in Tanzania this past summer and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to share my first experience around the country with. While I know we will never forget meeting the Maasai tribe in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, riding through the safari (spotting four out of the Big Five, might I add!), and trekking our way up the coffee farm, our most memorable moments were ones we spent at the dinner table, in our mentor groups, or lounging by the couches.
Our group had the best dynamic because we were willing to share our best attributes with each other. From the astrologist, who had us all stargazing, to our philosopher, who had us all pondering. I hope you all built the better parts of yourselves during your time in Tanzania and learned to share it with others when you got back home.”
-Eunice, International Director
Our OMG was an amazing collective of both your experience in the classroom and your understanding of growth. As a group, your goal was “to stay in perspective by reading more books.” You mentioned you realized the value of education because of your experience in Patandi and how you all wanted to remain aware of what’s going on around the world.
In order to accomplish this goal you had created a group chat where you were able to discuss the selected books and motivate each other. Your goal was to finish at least one book within three months.
The group would continue reading additional books with no set end-date. The books are a way to learn about social issues and broaden your perspectives but also a way to stay in touch with each other. Ariella and I recommended a list of books that the group could start off their book club with.
Monday June 17, 2019
Hi families and friends,
Welcome to our group’s blog! Our international and local team have been preparing extensively for this day. We are extremely excited to add our students to the family. After a long journey from their perspective hometowns students have finally arrived.
As the first group exited the airport together they looked tired but very eager to get the ball rolling. As we made our way to our homebase we were blessed with clear skies and a beautiful view of Kilimanjaro. Two students arrived later on in the night and, while jet-lagged, had such positive personalities. Now we’re eagerly waiting for Tristen!
Our team has so many adventures to look forward to and we anticipate to make many new friends along the way. I hope you check in with us throughout the coming three weeks as we build as leaders and share in unforgettable memories.
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Today our students settled into their homebase, meeting local staff, enjoying tasty meals, and getting to know each other. As we participated in a few team building activities, we shared amongst ourselves the unique qualities that not only make us leaders but valuable members to the team.
After a competitive game of GLA Jeopardy, to review all the information received during Student Orientation, students were ready to sign up for the Leadership Roles for the next few weeks. These roles include Leader of the Day, Blogger, Photographer, and Kitchen Crew. We are really thrilled that students are taking on these titles and putting their own spark and personality into completing their tasks.
Most of all, with the arrival of our team member Tristan, our group is finally complete and ready to visit out local school, Patandi, tomorrow.
Wednesday June 19, 2019
After breakfast we went to the school and got to meet all of the kids. they showed us around the school for a while and then we played basketball with the kids. after we finished the game, 5 – 4, we were shown the rest of the school and learned about what goes on there. then we walked back to home-base, and just kind on hung out. then we went to the market and got to shop for food and some of us got ice cream. after that we came back to home-base, ate lunch, had some down time and then had a very intense debate about poaching in Tanzania. we had some more free time and discussed injuries, took naps and then ate dinner.
Thursday June 20, 2019
Today we woke up and had a great Tanzanian breakfast including toast, eggs, yams, and fruit. Then we went to the school and got to teach the kids two classes. The students learned about animals and adjectives in English. Their English abilities are really good and they are only in 5th and 6th grade! After English class, we went outside and learned some of their Tanzanian games, and we taught them American ones. Then we started sanding a classroom to get ready for painting. Then we went cloth shopping and picked different fabrics we wanted to design into clothes. A tailor came and measured us and asked us in detail what we wanted to make. Then we had dinner, which was burgers, fries, watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Then we had a group activity in which we wrote “Where I’m From” poems and read them aloud.
Friday June 21, 2019
Today we continued service in the morning, which included compound words, sentence starters, and letters. After that we went down to an orphanage where we got to tour it and play with the kids whose ages ranged from two months to 4 years. When we returned to home base we had a Swahili lesson to learn greetings, phrases, and words of fruits and vegetables we would be buying for the kitchen crew at the market. In addition to this we learned about the Maasai people and their culture for tomorrow when we will be with them the whole day.
Saturday June 22, 2019
After a long week of teaching, sanding walls, lesson planning, exploring markets, playing with kids, and engaging in leadership activities, we finally had our first excursion to the Maasai Mara. The Maasai are an ethnic group native to Tanzanian and Kenyan land with around one million people, the largest group in Tanzania.
They are one of the most famous groups in Africa to foreigners, because they live in reserve areas (land designated for animals and humans to live together) and near many national parks in the Great Rift Valley area. They also wear distinct red clothes to symbolize the blood that is so representative of their culture of warriorhood. The Maasai is one large group with smaller organized communities, similar to America as one nation with many states. We had the incredible opportunity to visit one of these “bomas” or homes/compounds today.
We woke up at 3:30am ready to begin our adventure. Amidst the dark sky and windy roads, we first stumbled upon a giraffe taking part in its morning browsing for food. We then exchanged customary greetings with the elder of the “boma” and went straight to milk the family’s goats. Afterwards, we got acquainted to the Maasai way of life, in which we witnessed a traditional preparation of goat for feasting. We then headed straight through the expansive landscape, as we walked for around four to five miles, spotting giraffe, birds, and goats. After our long walk, we had a tasty lunch and got to hear the elder tell his story, expressing how the Maasai lives.
We got to ask many questions. It was very interesting. Once we finished eating and listening, we got a tour of a typical Maasai home. I think in that moment we all felt very grateful for the homes we live in, as the Maasai live very simply and bare bones from our perspective. Yet, as a student later remarked, that does not lessen their enjoyment of life. Perhaps even, quite the opposite.
Lastly, we all learned how to throw a heavy spear, again showcasing how important hunting is to the Maasai. We were told that our group was the first GLA group to have every member throw the spear correctly! We ended by watching the many women dance and sing, as we tried to dance along. The women then showed us their beautiful beadwork and we even bought some of their jewelry. It was a day of learning, exploring, and engaging in a true cultural exchange.
-Ariella Kirschbaum – Program Mentor
Sunday June 23, 2019
On our relaxed Sunday we got to take some time in the morning and go to a hotel on a beautiful property. The students planned their lessons for tomorrow with great success. They are starting to get the hang of it! We then got an hour of free time, in which we enjoyed access to WiFi, coffee drinks, and snacks. After our morning, we walked back to homebase where families were waiting for us to come take us for the afternoon. We ate lunch with them and then the students were off.
Each pair/small group went with a different family and they all came back enthusiastic with different stories. Some families asked the students a lot of questions about what life is like in America. Other families showed the students a tour of the town and their houses. Other students got to play with the little kids in the families.
When the students got back after their day with their host families, they learned about the Tanzanian education system and continued lesson planning. After dinner, we all watched The Ivory Game, a film about the poaching issues in Africa, a topic regarding human rights and wildlife/land conservation, which we continually focus on during this program.
Monday June 24, 2019
Service today was excellent. We taught verbs, nouns, compound words, and time telling; and saw a lot of improvement. We also continued sanding the walls of the classroom and playing English and Swahili games with the kids. In addition to this we learned how to do Batik, which is a form of tapestries made with wax.
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Today we continued teaching our students. We taught topics like writing letters and adjectives. We also continued service. We are making good progress sanding the walls and getting them ready to be painted. When we got back to home base we got to cook dinner with the chefs. We made juice, salad, and “chips mi eye,” which is a dish of eggs and Irish potatoes. As the groups finished up cooking, we played jump rope and catch outside with some of our kids from school. We are all excited to continue teaching this week and learning about Tanzanian culture.
Wednesday June 26, 2019
So today we finally finished sanding the walls of the classroom. It was hard work, but anything is possible with a team like ours. We got to painting the walls and we only have a few more layers of paint to go. After that we sat down for an HIV panel and learned a lot. Five people who are HIV positive and work at a non-profit that counsels people who have just discovered that they have HIV came in and told us their stories. After that, at the end of the day we had a nice time at the lake and it was splendid. We played games, drank soda, and had a Swahili lesson.
Thursday June 27, 2019
After teaching, we continued to paint another coat in the classroom. Later in the day we went to downtown Arusha. We stopped at the supermarket for snacks and a cafe. From there, we drove to the market. It was crowded, but we bought some fabric and jewelry. When we got back to homebase, we all participated in a short workout in order to prepare for tomorrow’s hike to the coffee farm.
Sunday June 30, 2019
This morning we woke up to Alex’s much anticipated APE breakfast before starting our last day of service for week 2. At the school we were greeted by the usual crowd of smiling and waving students, just as eager to learn as they were on day 1. We made major progress on the classroom painting project as we finished the third layer of paint. After returning to the home base and eating lunch, we prepped for our hike to a local coffee farm. On the hike we were surrounded by beautiful plants and even more stunning scenery as we overlooked Arusha.
When we finally arrived at the coffee farm, we were welcomed with enthusiastic singing and dancing from a local group. Our guideshowed us the 12 step process for making the “best” cup of coffee, from picking the beans, to roasting, to boiling the grinds. We were advised not to use milk because we “aren’t baby cows”, but the coffee really didn’t need it because it was perfect on its own. Finally, we returned home and prepped for our first safari excursion tomorrow!
Monday July 1, 2019
This weekend was indescribable, but i’ll do my best! Saturday morning we left for Tangire national park shortly after breakfast. While we were there we were able to be up close and personal with so many zebras, African elephants, giraffes, baboons, and impalas! These creatures were so beautiful and it was incredible to see them in their natural habitat!
After a long day we headed to our short term hotel where we ate dinner. Sunday morning we were up to eat breakfast by 5AM and leave the hotel by 5:45AM to drive to Ngorogoro national park. The drive there was beautiful, specifically the view of the canyon. Once we were in the canyon we saw many zebras, buffalo, wildebeest, baboons, silver back jacks, hippopotamuses, black rhino, hyena, lions, more baboons, and lots and lots of birds! The overall experience was incredible and so very unreal!
Today we started week 3 with an early 7AM breakfast followed by a morning of teaching, as usual! Thankfully our mentors allowed us to take a break from our painting project, as we were in need of some rest. After a 2 hour nap (thank you mentors) we had lunch followed by another hour of free time.
After our very needed rest, we headed to a nearby hotel to have a talk with Mama Simba! She went further into detail about her very intriguing life story and about her past struggles and present successes. We were all very inspired by her energy and thankful for all she does for GLA! When we came back to the home base we had more free time. After a few rounds of Egyptian Rap Slap we ate dinner and had free time until lights out!
Tuesday July 2, 2019
As the sun sets on our time in Tanzania we rejoice in the light of the Tanzanian culture. The members of NAFGEM or Network Against Female Genital Mutilation came to address us about the horrific impacts of gender based violence, specifically surrounding female genital mutilation. At last, after we had gone to the market, picked out a number of festive fabrics, and got measured for an assortment of cultural clothing, TODAY we received our Tanzanian swag. Thanks GLA!
Wednesday July 3, 2019
After being here for two weeks we finally go to experience the market on market day. Although it was crowded and overwhelming, it was nice to see people in full action and to be able to see such vibrant colors in all directions. After that, we had the high school exchange in which we had nice conversations with local high school kids. For a light ending, we finished off with a game of “Would You Rather?” which was full of fun and laughter. We then ended with mentor groups.
Today we had breakfast and had some amazing food. Then we went to service we had two classes and then we painted some finishing touches. Then we finished up and went back to home base. Then we went to a Maasai market. Then we went back and some girls got their hair braided. Then we had dinner and chilled together, had mentor groups, and went to bed to be energetic for the next day.
Friday July 5, 2019
First off I’d like to give a little shout to doug and thais, miss you! Love you! So um today was our last day at Patandi Primary and it was very bittersweet. Instead of lessons, we played games with the students but we made it sort of educational. We got to see the finished classroom that we had worked on while we were here which was really cool but we also had to say goodbye to all of our students who we had built relationships with. After our lunch, we went to see a performance by the Kili Wizards and that was really fun. And then tonight we roasted marshmallows and just hung out!