Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
I cannot believe that I am back in the United States after spending an AMAZING summer in Tanzania with Global Leadership Adventures! I am now into the routine of work and school here and I hope that all of you are fully immersed and enjoying your next adventure whether that be another year of high school or your first year in college.
Every day I was amazed at how well you bonded with each other and fully immersed yourselves into the program. I will not forgot the times spent doing service, debating during discussions, relaxing at the home base, and adventuring on safari.
I want to take this opportunity to once again express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for everyone who worked at and participated in the GLA Tanzania Moshi program this summer. All of you took an incredibly brave step by traveling halfway around the world to a foreign country to experience a different culture with strangers who turned into friends and you all succeeded in fully immersing yourselves into the GLA experience. Most importantly, all of the hard work that you did for the students at Himo and Korona has had a positive impact on their lives. I hope the GLA experience has been life changing for you as well and that your experiences in Tanzania continues to positively impact your life as you continue to grow both as individuals and future leaders.
Summer Blog Posts
Thursday, August 4th
As my small GLA group of six walked through the markets of Moshi, I felt the eyes of locals around me observing intently as we arrived safely back to our bus. As someone who has never left the United States before, it’s safe to say that I was overwhelmed by the differences of almost everything, right down to the rocky soil beneath my feet. Schoolchildren, women, men — every single person I saw appeared so content. Today I learned that, although I know only a few Swahili words, smiling and kindness are universal languages. I learned that here, everyone is family. There are families that call this beautiful country their home who are surviving on less than one dollar every single day. Yet there’s a sense of gratefulness that resonates in a way I have never seen before.
Our color of skin may be different and we may not speak the same words, but I’ve come to realize that those things don’t quite matter when it comes down to it. We’re all human beings. We’re all a part of a family, whether it be blood relatives or love and kindness shown by those we are lucky enough to have met and shared a piece of our stories with. I’m beyond excited for the remaining time we have left here in Tanzania, and I am so grateful for all of those who have welcomed us with open minds and arms.
Friday, August 5
Today we had the chance to use the fabric we purchased at the market yesterday. After breakfast we had Evarristi, the Taylor visit the compound to hem and sew our fabric into various clothes and bags. After everyone had their objects made we took an introductory visit to the local school. We got to meet many of the children during their break and took a tour of the building. We met many of the wonderfully friendly staff and had an introduction to our lesson planning schedules. Later in the day we had lunch with local host families. We got to know one another as we ate and were invited back to our host familly’s homes. We were introduced to relatives and neighbors and shown local points of interest. After a few hours we returned to the home base and reflected on what we learned before going to bed.
Saturday, August 6
Today we woke up to a wonderful breakfast that included a Tanzanian style french toast. Following breakfast we visited a local orphanage. The orphanage has close connections with Mama Simba and Agape here at the home base. At the orphanage we learned how to hand wash clothing with the older children, and after played lots of games with the younger children. As orphanage tourism is a very large problem, GLA has made sure that we are not buying into that business, and that all the work done it help the children. We learned local games the children played, and were astonished by their excellent English. Later in the afternoon we drove to a Batik painting studio, and along with a fair amount of help made our own beautiful paintings. Wax and dye are primarily used to create these masterpieces. After coming home, we had our first venture to a very small local stand that sold candies, cookies, and drinks. For dinner we ate fried fish; a local corn dish that looks that mashed potatoes, but did not taste like them; and vegetables. To finish up the day we had a long leadership workshop continuing to discuss the dangers of stereotypes, the single story, service learning, and the white savior complex. All in all we had a great day.
– Emma Jaeger and Izzy Licata
Sunday, August 7
We began the day with a delicious breakfast made by Mama Dee. Differently from other days we began the day with a mini-workshop: teach me how to teach. Then after that we had another mini-workshop about voluntourism and corrupt orphanages. It was hard to hear the truth about how managers fill their orphanages with kids who have parents, but it helps us focus in on an organization before we commit to it. In the afternoon we went to three different markets: one that was new and industrial, one that was outdoors and artsy, and Africa’s version of Walmart. We filled up our carts with special snacks and drinks that I am sure will be gone quickly. In addition finally got our first wifi connection in five days at an Internet cafe where everyone was trying to check all of their social media sites as quick as possible because of the thirty minute time slot we paid for. This was our first meal outside of the home base and we ordered as much American food as possible. Pizzas, milkshakes, and French fries filled the table. After we all overfilled our stomachs, we headed back to home base and heard Mama Simba’s inspiring, empowering story about where she got to where she is today. It was a long day, but we all still did our ritual gathering at the gazebo to conclude the night.
Julia and Summer
Monday, August 8
Who knew teaching could be so hard?
Today we had our first day of teaching and although only a portion of the children came in because of the National Holiday it was still a struggle. The barrier of different languages is the hardest obstacle but seeing how eager the children are to learn is awe inspiring. I think finding a common ground with the students is the best way to go. Their happiness is contagious and if you look around everyone is smiling.
We began the prep for the re-vamp of the two classrooms. Sanding down the walls helped show us how privileged we are with the classrooms we learn in back home. I think all our arms developed an extra layer of muscle from that.
In a market, westerners are often charged a major inflated price, so today we learnt how to haggle and bargain with the best of them. It became a sort of competition, with different teams seeing how low they could get the price… Our team definitely won!
Good coffee is often something we take for granted, this afternoon we visited a coffee farm where we saw the entire process of making a cup of coffee. Firstly, you pick the berries, then you peel of the skins and dry the beans. Then you grind the beans to rid the second layer of skins. Roast them to perfection and grind them down to a powder and voila, the best cup of coffee we’ve ever tasted.
All round the day was very successful and again we got closer to the family we made here in Tanzania. We learnt a lot about ourselves today with our first day of teaching, they say it gets easier but I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Tiffany and Alex
Tuesday, August 9th
We started our day off with a delicious breakfast full of mendazis and eggs to sustain us for teaching the children. By 8:00, we were on our way to the primary schools for an educational morning. We arrived and got straight to teaching in our classrooms with a class double the size of yesterday’s class. We picked up our lesson on “everyday” tense and “yesterday” tense, which our bright students grasped very easily and fairly quickly. A shocking part of teaching was that the teacher was actually asking us questions about English as we were teaching. This portrayed that the teacher was not completely sure what she was teaching and whether things had proper grammar or not. This makes learning the language more difficult on the students, especially if they are taught wrong because there is no one knowledgeable enough to correct them. After class, we began to paint the ceilings of two classrooms. Needless to say, as inexperienced painters, we had paint splattering all over us as the wet paint was applied and gravity did its job from there.
On our way home, it was finally clear enough out to see the massive Mount. Kilimanjaro. When we arrived back at our home base, we had some guest speakers who were people living with AIDS. They seemed to be damaged souls who were alienated by their community and family due to the social stigma. Only those who are educated enough to understand the effects of the disease, such as Mama Simba, were kind enough to take them in. At the end, they all said they are not praying to become healthier, but rather, they are praying to die. I could not even fathom myself or another praying for death; it is upsetting to think that they are so damaged to the point of no healing. To sum up this exchange of perspectives, it was truly eye opening and everyone felt empathetic towards them because their stories usually did not have happy endings. After the speakers, we had the opportunity to visit and meet students at a secondary school in the village. Most of the students whom we had the chance to interact with were 16 and 17 year olds. I found this cultural exchange to help me have a more global perspective.
Later, we had a workshop on female genital cutting, or you may know it as “genital mutilation” (FGM for short). We were introduced to the topic of FGMs, before receiving a talk the next day by an activist group, called NaFGM. One of our mentors, Ashley, told us to take everything with a grain of salt because the activist group would be giving us a biased view. After a long and tiring day, we all headed to bed with tired hearts, eager to start the next day of teaching and adventure.
Wednesday, August 10
Today was the third time we visited the school. The initially awe we felt consequently wore off, but the feeling of doing good was still there. It’s great to know that you’re making a impact on another’s life, even if it’s the smallest amount because the same way you effected them, they will effect another and so on.
Today was the first day we painted the two classrooms. Paint wars are not a good idea when the paint stains. After finishing up painting the classrooms, we headed back to the home base to enjoy lunch made by Mama D. We then had a Nafga speaker come in and inform us about the cultural differences on female cutting. After an eye opening discussion we were uplifted by going to the local soccer field and entertained by the Kilimanjaro Wizards. And let me just say its not anything like watching “dancing with the stars”. After we had dinner and joined in on a great workshop. During the workshop we discussed the issues The Albino community is facing in Africa. It was a very touching presentation which touched everyone of us. We then went over our lesson plans for the next day. Afterwards we had an hour of free time before we have to be in our rooms at 9:30.
-Josh & Brigitte
Morning call at 7 am. Woohoo! Breakfast was served at approximately 7:30 am… It was delicious. After eating we showered and prepared ourselves for another teaching lesson with the younglings, education is key. Forty minutes passed, and we walked over to the dirt field to play with the kids during their recess. After that, we walked over to the schools to continue the manual labor of painting the second layer on the walls and windows frames. All sweaty and painty we headed back to base to enjoy another tasty lunch. Tummies full we loaded up the bus and headed out to the supermarket to purchase snacks for the safari and shop for any souvenirs for the fam we all miss back home. Shopping bags in hand we Skrt’d to the Internet cafe to keep up with life back home via our drama boxes (phones). The food was amazinggg! I had a personal pizza, bagel with cream cheese & soda float. YUM!
Stomachs satisfied we drove back to base, unloaded our fresh goods and walked over to the orphanage to play games and say goodbye 🙁 it was had but everybody left with a smile. The staff and kids there are truly special and will forever have a place in all our hearts. The kitchen staff cooked up another great meal for us. Sarah then lead an amazing presentation about gender empowerment which ended around 8:10 which gave us an hour and twenty minute of free time which we spent star gazing, laughing, and sharing stories about life back home. Another great day full of unforgettable experiences!
Tristan Gravelle and Abby McAuliffe
Today was our last day of teaching classes at the primary school and painting the classrooms. It was a bittersweet goodbye; all of the GLA students agreed that we had seen progress and growth in our students and in ourselves. Although our interactions were short and sweet, they will never be forgotten.
We also had the seamstress and the hair-braider come to the home base. People got their clothing items back (that we had been measured for the week prior) and hair braided (some were hilarious! **eric**).
To finish the day off we had an impressive speaker come talk to us at the home base. The men’s names were John and Lucas. John lost his right arm and leg in a train accident over 20 years ago. Since then he has overcome many obstacles and accepted that “everything happens for a reason”. John and Lucas had just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, an impressive accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone with one arm and one leg. John and Lucas’s story and perspective on life inspired us all and we are grateful to have met such amazing people devoted to a life of service!
– Mayah and Molly 🙂
August 13 & 14
Saturday morning we had an early wake up for the start to our safari weekend. Once we entered our safari cars each group began to feel the excitement for what was about to be an amazing day. At the safari park we quickly noticed a rare sight, a lion killing a wildebeest. As more and more safari cars gathered, everyone started to watch many younger female lions come over to join their mother in eating the wildebeest. We were very fortunate to see lions making a kill because it’s not something most people see. Following the lions eating the wildebeest, we moved into the rest of the park and saw many other animals; zebras, elephants, wildebeests, birds, and lots of others. It was a successful day for GLA in the safari park. We all drove to the hostel after the safari and met with our roommates and made ourselves comfortable in the little hotel in the mountains.
Sunday the safari car groups were changed up, so that everyone could have a chance to be with their friends as well as make new friends. We drove to the Ngorongoro crater which is actually a volcano that collapsed in on itself. It felt like we were in an alternate universe. The horizon seemed to go on for eternity. Although we were not able to find a leopard for Ashley we did see zebras, hippos, birds, buffalo, wildebeest, and elephants. Everyone loved how the roofs of the safari cars popped up, and that we could stand on our seats and enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view. The car rides were filled with laughs, jokes, intense debates, and bonding experiences along with a few naps. It was a packed day and after about 6 hours of driving home we were all ready for bed.
Izzy & Emma
Today is August 15th and it is the second to last day of our trip. We woke up in the early morning and drove an hour and a half to hike the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We were all incredibly excited to hike the roof of Africa, although it definitely was not an easy task for many of us. However, with the newfound inspiration from our new friend, John, we continued on despite the challenges. The guides led us to see several waterfalls, before we stopped at one for lunch. Some of us went swimming in the waterfall, but only for a short period of time because the water was icy cold. After that, we went to one final waterfall before heading back to the starting point. All of us were exhausted from the hike, but we were so glad for the much-needed exercise and to have been able to see one of Africa’s most breathtaking landscapes.
When we arrived back at the home base, we met with our host families for one last time before saying our final goodbyes. We spent some time talking to them and getting to know them a bit more. Some host families brought their children along with them, which we were happy about because we got to play with them some more. Soon enough, it was time for them to leave. It was a bittersweet moment when we said our last farewells.
Since today was the last time we would be having dinner in Tanzania, Momma D cooked up a real, big feast for us all. We had all sorts of BBQ’d meats, such as pork, chicken, and beef kabobs. There was also French fries and garlic bread, something everyone missed eating. We stuffed ourselves until our stomachs were full and couldn’t take any more food. It also happened to be the evening before Carly’s 17th birthday, so we had a surprise party for her, and celebrated with birthday cake and signed cards.
Of course, our last night here couldn’t be complete without everyone gathered around a bonfire. We sat around the bonfire, talking about our high’s and low’s of the trip and what enjoyed most. After, we told each other how much we appreciated everyone on the trip, which made us all feel warm and fuzzy inside.
It was an incredible last night in Tanzania, one that I’m sure many of us will remember for years to come. The next time we sit at a bonfire with our friends, we’ll be able to tell stories about all the wonderful experiences we had in Tanzania.
-Joey & Jenna