Friday July 13, 2018
All 27 students have arrived safe and sound in Tanzania! We’re so happy that our group is finally complete, and we are all looking forward to spending the next 3 weeks together in this beautiful country.
With some students arriving yesterday, and the rest today, we haven’t been able to take a FULL group shot yet. But below are some photos from the various arrival groups.
Please note: Tyler Milner, Madison Stock, and Madison Feldman are not pictured, as their flights arrived around midnight Tanzania time, but our staff were ready and waiting at the airport to greet them, and they are now at home base with the rest of the group getting a good night’s rest in preparation for a low-key orientation day tomorrow.
Stay tuned for updates from our 3-week adventure, and we will be sure to update the blog with a full group photo tomorrow!
GLA Tanzania Program Staff
Friday July 14, 2018
The energetic people of Tanzania are some of the most selfless and heartwarming individuals I have ever met. We have spent hours and hours with the children playing catch, soccer, dancing, and running. The children seem to never run out of energy. Though we haven’t done any service work yet, we have been introduced into the community and already feel like a family.
The majority of today was spent on orientation. In orientation we met the local and international staff, did icebreakers, went over the code of conduct, and to top it off we did the Amazing Race! The Amazing Race was a team activity where we had to go through Tengeru figuring out clues in order to finish. For example, we had to buy nyanyas from someone at the local market (tomatoes), we had to take a selfie with a goat, and we had to go a local school gate and take a team photo. In the end, we all met up and played sports with locals and got to know our peers better. Megan and her mentor group won the Amazing Race and got a prize of hot chocolate and getting to give Lodrick (Local Director) and Debra (International Director) a makeover.
After the Amazing Race, we all got together and talked more in-depth about the code of conduct and general safety. The night ended with a slideshow of our Amazing Race photos and a delicious dinner. Overall we have had great food and a great time!
-by Rohan Kalra
Sunday July 15, 2018
Yesterday was an amazing day because we experienced the honest culture of the fellow people of Tanzania. The students gathered in groups at homebase and met their host families, some had children and some were alone. We all sat and ate lunch together and asked many curious questions including questions about their daily routines. After eating together our individual host families took us back to their homes. The language barrier was a problem for some groups, but thankfully we had translators! Later into conversation, some of us learned their views on religion and politics.
Some had very traditional values and the students were very open to hearing about the opinions and beliefs of their host families. We got to see their homes and had a peek into how they live their lives. It was very different from our homes because many of the host families grew their own vegetables and partook in animal husbandry (raised their own animals). Later in the evening, we had our first mentor groups with Kate, Lolly, and Megan.
This morning we all walked to Patandi Primary School to orient ourselves to our service site and see the children and classrooms. We also met the Principal that has worked there for six months. Then after touring the school we took our bus to Arusha where we shopped for snacks and went to a WiFi café, which everyone appreciated.
Then we went back to homebase on the bus and ate a delicious lunch courteous of Jackie and Joseph. We then went to the open air Tengeru Market to shop for fabrics for students who want a custom garment sewn. We have a seamstress coming in to make the designs the students sketch out for them. After that we went back to home base and had our first Swahili lesson. Then we had dinner and ended with our second mentor group session of the trip.
Tuesday July 17, 2018
Entering the small cream-colored classroom made me feel like I was in a movie. All of the 5th graders were sitting at their wooden desks, dressed in formal white and navy uniforms. Their faces filled with light and energy, even though it was only eight in the morning. I was amazed by the confidence in every single student as they covered adjectives. In fact, their enthusiasm towards learning English inspires me to put forth that same amount of energy towards learning Spanish.
Recess was the time I got to bond one on one with the students. With 27 Americans and 800 children, all the Americans were swarmed with love and affection. Watching the kids bonding together in their small friend groups really exemplified recess when I was in elementary school.
Later that morning, I got to get my hands dirty in the delicate garden. Our first service was divided into two groups of either sanding the inside of a classroom or watering the garden. By watering, I mean flooding the plants. By the end of the gardening, I looked like I rolled around in mud. However, I did not mind the dirty clothing because it felt so lifting and empowering to make a difference within the school. By the end, the children did not want to let go of us.
For the second half of the day, we took a long and intense hike up to a coffee farm. I’m not kidding, I had to stop at least ten times and I used my hand against the rocks to help me power up the hill. Walking through the gates of our destination I heard loud, bold, spirited music, which was being performed by the farmers. They were in bright yellows and oranges dancing in a circle. Step by step we were taught in detail the procedure of making the perfect decaf coffee. It was amazing! I even bought by parents a bag of coffee to make at home.
As the sun started to set, we had a relaxing walk back to home base shouting “jambo” or “mambo” to the locals as we passed. Today was a day jam packed with love, excitement, and learning. I am so excited for a good nights rest, in preparation for another unforgettable day!
Wednesday July 18, 2018
Today we woke up to the iconic rooster yet again, ate a delicious breakfast of eggs and rice puffs, then began our walk to the school. We split up into teaching groups of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade then taught two 40-minute classes. As this was our first day teaching a full class; we’re still getting the hang of it, but we feel that the kids are learning a lot. We then played with the students during recess, which even helps us pick up some Swahili.
Afterward we began the physical service, which consisted of painting the buildings, repairing the broken desks, and tending to the school garden. We then headed back to the homebase for lunch, then met with our teaching groups to plan our next lesson. Also, we all met with the seamstress to make clothing out of the fabric we previously bought. We ended the day with free time to enjoy each other’s company!
-Olivia Phillips and Ella Beard
Thursday July 19, 2018
Today was our first official day of teaching our different grades at Patandi Primary School. It was awesome to be able to fully interact with the kids as well as adjust each lesson to what worked and didn’t in the previous lessons we had observed Tuesday and Wednesday. The kids are adorable and very bright and we love to be around them just as much as they like to hang around us.
We put our second coat of crème colored paint inside one of the classrooms and finished the outside of one the main buildings. We repaired some desks and worked on our sawing and hammering skills. After lunch, we walked to the local high school nearby our homebase and sat down with the students and teacher. The teacher told us about the levels of education in Tanzania and the different grading system.
There’s a lot of testing that the kids have to pass to continue onto high school and university. The teenagers were really fun to talk to because they told us their favorite American movies and musicians. We asked them about what they do on the weekends and what their favorite part about living in Tanzania is. The students thought we were all a lot older and in college. After our time at the high school we drove to a local orphanage. The orphanage cares for 150 kids, ages ranging from around seven months to twelve-years-old who don’t have parents or just a single parent.
Some of them stay in the dorms and go to the preschool built in their orphanage. It was bitter sweet to give them a lot of love but know that we can only do so much for them in the short amount of time we were there. It takes only $10-$20 to sponsor a kid who goes to public school. Some of us talked about how for the amount of money we’ve spent on this trip in trinkets so far we could have sponsored at least five kids. After we left we reminded them that we would see them next week so it was a bit easier to say goodbye. Going to the orphanage put things in perspective for the lives we live and the parents we have that want the best for us.
Friday July 20, 2018
We woke up to the sound of the neighbor’s cow mooing. The GLA students captured the scent of Joseph, the chef’s famous fried rice balls. Then we walked to school with our friends. We taught the students English, painted the windows and classrooms, and fixed desks. Later that day we had the privilege of talking to a group of people with HIV and we were able to hear about their experience battling the virus. Best part of the day: Joseph’s vegan potatoes.
-by Sydney Anish
P.S. We love you Joseph
Saturday July 21, 2018
Today the staff and students got to visit the Maasai people and experience traditional tribal life. Our day began at 3:30am and we left homebase on our buses at 4am to head to the Maasai boma. After our two-hour journey to meet our friends for the day, we arrived at the village, which is called Mferejini. We first milked goats that belonged to the Maasai and got to hold them. After a light breakfast, we began our walking safari trip.
Everyone was able to see giraffes and one group was able to spot antelopes. When we finished our excursion we had a group conversation with the elder of the Boma, Olengobei, who is married to 11 wives. We were able to ask him questions about his wives and children and the Maasai culture. Following our conversation with Olengobei, we watched the other men in the village start a fire from sticks on donkey dung.
They used the fire to boil water to cook the goat. Following this, we were taught spear throwing and were welcomed into Olengobei’s home. Before we left, we were able to purchase jewelry the Maasai women made. To end our day with the Maasai, we celebrated new friendships with a dance circle and said our goodbyes. When we arrived back at homebase, we ate dinner and had a free night to shower and relax after our exciting and busy day.
-by Madison Feldman
Sunday July 22, 2018
Jambooooo! Today we slept in and it was such a blessing. Half of the group learned batik painting and the others learned to cook local cuisine and prepared lunch for everyone. We made our own batik paintings with the help of the batik artists. Everyone created incredible paintings and they all turned out so well. The batik artists brought other paintings they did themselves to sell, as well as flowy pants for us to buy. The rest of the group cooked a delicious lunch. We cut up vegetables for a salad, made pancakes, a beef stew with cooked bananas as well as watermelon. After everyone ate the lunch we made, we got ready to go to the supermarket to go get WiFi and whatever else we wanted/ needed.
After a few hours in that area, we went to the Maasai market. That was a bit stressful because everyone working there tried to make you go into their kiosk to buy something. But I know that everyone got a lot of really cool and amazing stuff for themselves and their loved ones. There were some super interesting things being sold and it was a great experience. It was also fun to bargain with the vendors at the Maasai market too. When we went back to the home base everyone went to show each other what they bought before a yummy dinner. Afterward, everyone got into their teaching groups to prep for our school day tomorrow and for the rest of the remaining days at the school! Overall today was very fun and I can confidently say that everyone enjoyed it, especially the part that we got to sleep in… well at least I did 🙂 Also mom if you’re reading this- I miss and love you
Monday July 23, 2018
Today was phenomenal. We danced, laughed, turned up, connected, and were educated. We were up early to go to the school. We taught the students our lessons for the day and then did our physical labor, which included breaking concrete floors and painting the rest of a classroom and a play structure. We have a few more days left with the kids so we’re trying to appreciate our time with them as much as possible.
When we returned to home base, we switched groups for the batik and cooking class. We cooked and also decorated for dinner for our mentor Kate because it was her birthday. Before dinner, some of us went for a walk and visited the river we have nearby. Everybody had a blast painting, cooking, and getting ready for the celebration!
As we ate dinner we sang happy birthday to Kate about 10 times. We ate cake, good fresh food, and at the end we had the best party ever! We danced and jumped and sang. This day was one of the best days of the trip so far. Until tomorrow!
-Sonic Fleming and Ariana Morales
Tuesday July 24, 2018
Today started off as weekdays usually do with going to school in the morning. Our classes have been progressing very well, and it’s so rewarding to see the kids getting excited when they understand a concept. For service, some of us dug holes to plant trees and others worked on breaking the floor of a classroom with axes and hammers. Despite the blisters, everyone maintained positive attitudes and we’re looking forward to finishing our work for the students.
In the afternoon, we listened to a heavy discussion on female genital mutilation with some speakers from an advocacy group. Although it was very disturbing, it was an important talk that led to further discussion on our previous interactions with the Maasai people in our mentor groups. We are all very sad that there is only one week left of this trip, but there is still so much more to come!
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Hey guys! Lets splash into a pool of possibilities! Today, we went to go hike at Kilimanjaro. The day started out extra early with a pit stop at Moshi to buy “schnacks”. The ride from homebase to Mount Kili is approximately 3 hours long. Yikes! Before starting the hike we visited a cute, little gift shop near the base of the mountain. After that, we walked down to a beautiful, remote waterfall. Moving on, we hiked up to a large pool of water.
There, we ate our home made lunches (shout to Joseph and the kitchen team!!!) and took a freezing dip in the pool! #articplunge After drying up, we made it up t the official starting point for the Kili National Park. There, we learned some history of the mountain and its tiring trails. We all learned that it takes 6 days to make it to the top of the mountain! WOOAAHHH! On the bus ride back, the group stopped at a large gift store. Finally, we made it back safely to homebase and were welcomed home to our kitchen staff preparing us dinner. What an amazing adventure!
-Jonah Harris and Reena Agarwal
Friday July 27, 2018
Hi parents! Friday was our last day at Ptandi Primary School. We started the day of by teaching our final lessons to the students. It was touching to think back on all the progress they had made in the last two weeks. Then we had a farewell assembly with all the students where we sang songs, listened to students’ appreciations, and said our final goodbyes. Afterwards, some of us stayed to mix concrete and paint while others headed back to home base. Once we had all return we had another fantastic lunch prepared by our the famous Joseph. A short while later, we headed over to the Serena Hotel where many of us ordered ice cream, cake, fries, and anything else we had been craving. While we were there, we listened to Mama Simba tell us her life story. Mama Simba is the founder of Experience Tanzania. It was so inspiring to hear the story of how she pursued her education and how her values have changed over the course of her life. After heading back to home base, we celebrated Hailey’s birthday! We at two cakes and had a small dance party led by DJ Jonathan. It was a pretty eventful day! We’re so grateful to have been welcomed by Ptandi and will miss the students greatly! Much love to our families back home, especially my parents. And ya, that’s about it.
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today we were blessed to sleep in with a late breakfast at 9:30. Shortly after we took a quick walk to Duluti Lake, this absolutely beautiful location, we learned and inquired about the fascinating history of Tanzania. After exploring for a bit, we separated into our mentor groups. We drew the river of our lives and discussed how our sojourn to Tanzania was going so far. We returned to home base for a delicious lunch of egg and fries omelette. Then after lunch we set off to the orphanage. There we had a blast playing with the sweet and wonderful children. Once we finished at the orphanage we came home for yet another scrumptious meal. After dinner we had ice cream and movie night. After the film we were all collectively exhausted and marched straight to bed. That brought the end of a spectacular day!
Tuesday July 31, 2018
Lions and rhinos and wildebeests, oh my! After a 4:30am wakeup and breakfast at the Twiga lodge, we packed into the safari jeeps for our second day of safari. Although every jeep had their own experience, every group saw the same amazing animals and scenery that the African savannah provides. From fearless baboons to sleepless lions, today will never be forgotten. Once we got back to homebase we found a beautiful decorated dining room with candles and farewell artwork by the amazing Jonathan. At 7 we gathered around in our final chakula circle.
Dinner was served with love from the local cooking staff and shared with laughs and smiles. We said our goodbyes to Mama Simba and Vinny and prepared for our flights tomorrow afternoon. The tailor arrived and we all received our customs bags, outfits, and other accessories. Everyone was more than happy to strut their new designs in a GLA Tanzanian fashion show. Tomorrow will be full of many see you laters, I think we can all agree that saying goodbye to Tanzania will be a difficult one.
When we first arrived to Tanzania seven weeks ago vibrant green corn stalks greeted us, their tops waving like hands as we drove from Kilimanjaro Airport to the GLA Arusha homebase. Over the next few weeks, we would be greeted with a warm karibu sana, or very welcome, by many more who would soon become family. First by the homebase staff, who work from the wee hours of the morning to prepare delicious meals, the students at Patandi who greeted us with “good morning teachers!”, and the Maasai at Mferejini village who taught us to milk goats as the first rays of sun welcomed the day. From the beginning, Uweza, the Tanzania Country Director, and the local staff told us we were family and that she loved us.
With each day our bonds grew and our love deepened as we learned more about each other. Many of us realizing that our commonalities far outweighed our differences. Our world views expanded by seeing the world through the eyes of resilient women with HIV diagnosis, exuberant school children, and educators spreading awareness about FGM.
We expressed our gratitude for the lessons with engaging English lessons, covering ourselves in paint splatters, planting trees and veggies, and replacing the concrete floor of an entire classroom.
We climbed mountains inside and out. Reaching the gates of the Marangu entrance to Kilimanjaro and summitting Coffee Mountain to harvest, prepare, and taste our own brew. We overcame fears of acceptance, speaking our voice, trying new things, and making new friends. Our journey culminated in a two-day safari, where we observed the majesty of the animal kingdom. We came to recognize the inside and outside beauty of the land, animals, people, and stories of this magical place.
We are all forever changed.
This time after hugs and tears we headed back to Kilimanjaro Airport. For now our time here has come to an end, the stalks of corn have been harvested, mountains climbed and lessons learned, and the dry blades wave us farewell. But as Uweza reminded us, we are all forever family, our story is just beginning and we are always karibu sana.