All students are on their way home after an amazing program!
The day began with a late start at the GLA home base. We left at around 9:00 for a hike in Kilimanjaro National Park. An overheated bus delayed us briefly, but we adventured on, and at the start of the trail, met the hiking guides who would lead us through coffee plantations on our way to our destination—two different waterfalls. The hike to the first waterfall went smoothly. The bravest of us took a quick dip into the freezing cold water, while others could be found exploring among the rocks scattered along the stream. Some just sat and enjoyed the view, sprayed lightly by the mist coming off the waterfalls. After our fill of the first waterfall, we took off for the second one. We stopped halfway to enjoy a packed lunch provided by Mama Digna and the kitchen crew. We made our way to the second waterfall, which was larger than the first and more people took the leap this time, and splashed in the pool below the falls. Even Godwin and Baraka joined in for a swim! Although we had a couple of minor cuts and bumps in the slick mud, the hike went smoothly overall and everyone was happy and tired as we stopped at the craft market, eventually arriving home in time for dinner. Our night was capped off with a feast that included one of our last team exercises of the trip, a slide show recapping our events of the last two weeks, and a final evaluation. I think that all of us agree that though bittersweet, our last night in Tanzania was a blast!
“Home is Whenever I’m With You.”
Today is hard to describe. Waking up was rough for everyone because the events of our safari weekend were so beautiful, yet so draining.
Seeing the children’s faces at the school, however, was a second-wind that lasted through the remainder of the day. The children tend to do that. As soon as the bus pulls into the school, all the children come running and waving to see the ‘wazungu.’ This scene gives us a sense of importance because they are running to see us.
It’s such an exhilarating feeling to think of the impact we have on these children’s lives and the happiness we provide to them, because most of the children don’t have much and to see them so happy is euphoric. That happiness has bonded our GLA group to them and leaving them is going to be difficult because they have become such a large part of our lives. It’s like the Edward Sharpe lyrics, “Home is whenever I’m with you.” Tanzania will always be a second home thanks to the children.
So anyway, after teaching we did some grueling yet productive work on the fence. A few of us were on trash pickup, which was great because the area will become a garden for the schoolchildren.
After arriving home, half the group stayed back to rest while the other half went into town. We all regrouped at around 3:00 for our afternoons at the coffee plantation, the orphanage and batik painting. It’s been great having so many chances to go back to the orphanage. There has been a different group going there almost everyday, giving us an opportunity to really connect and form fabulous relationships with each of those remarkable children.
Goonday, a 19-year-old sweetheart who is the epitome of selflessness; Lily, a 10-year-old who loves the color purple and clubbing; Happiness, a 10-year-old who loves coloring books; violet, the 3-year-old who loves to show off her dance moves, each individual holds a special place in our hearts.
Following dinner we had a leadership workshop with Shan which was the best one yet. He told us an inspiring story about a girl, only 12-years-old, who performed a miracle of fundraising soccer balls for orphans in Ghana. Then we learned about “Lollipop Moments,” and shared ours with the group. It became one of the most emotional and riveting moments of the trip and brought us all so close. These teens I’m with are all so beautiful. If you are a parent or friend, be proud because they will change the world.
“Did you see that?” Sometimes you zone out, but in Africa you zone in. On safari, you don’t dream of being somewhere else. You don’t imagine a different place. You don’t close your eyes, no matter how tired you are. You are focused. You are energized. You are ready to experience Africa. We woke up today at 06:30 excited by the prospect of seeing zebras, elephants and lions up close. We filled up on granola bars and eggs before shuffling onto the two awaiting tour buses, rearranging ourselves so that all of us, and our overnight bags, would fit. Our bus was filled with excited chatter about what we were about to see. “What will the safari vehicles look like? Do you think there will be zebras? I want a zebra selfie!” It felt good to be surrounded by new friends discussing crazy adventures yet to come. Eventually we arrived at our meeting spot where we divided into safari groups and loaded into our off-road vehicles. My vehicle was absolutely awesome. I was joined by Brooke, Lara, Mary, Kenzie T. and Jorie under the leadership of Mama Kath. We bonded as we drove out to Tarangire National Park. Our discussion got deep as talked about our futures and who we would like to become. We talked about how this trip has inspired us to want to travel the world and make a difference. We discussed how making someone smile has provided us with immense joy and is the greatest blessing we’ve ever received. When we finally arrived at the park we had to push back our excitement for another hour so we could eat lunch and ready ourselves for the afternoon. The food in our boxed lunches was an interesting assortment of a hard-boiled egg, crepe, fried chicken, mango juice, a donut and a piece of fruit– something for everyone! Finally it was time to see the animals. We loaded back into the vehicles, exhilarated and anxious. Immediately we saw zebras, wildebeest and giraffes. Later we saw elephants and warthogs. The night prior we had cuddled up to watch ‘The Lion King,’ so during our safari we playfully whispered, “Pumba!” and “Simba!” to the animals. But it wasn’t just the animals that were amazing. The setting itself was unbelievable. At times, I found myself wanting to reach out to touch a tree just because it didn’t seem real otherwise. We stood up on our seats with our heads out the roof and the wind in our hair. We were within throwing distance of wild animals I had only ever seen before on Google images. The screen on my phone kept telling me “storage full you cannot take another photo” because, wrapped up in the excitement and beauty of the day, I took so many photos! Arriving at the hotel that night, we were warmly greeted by a friendly staff and taken to the most amazing rooms. I had the privilege of rooming with my girl Leila. She is an amazing friend and we stayed up almost all night chatting. Overall I had just an unbelievable day. (ps: I just want to thank all the parents out there reading this for sharing their amazing children. It has been a true honor to spend the last week calling these extraordinary people my friends, so thank you. And a special shout-out to Mom, Dad and Josh. I love you guys!)
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.” Today my breath was taken from me like it didn’t even belong to me anymore. I was convinced that what I was seeing only existed in my dreams. I could not find words other than, “This isn’t real.” At times I couldn’t even bring myself to bend down to grab my camera, because I knew it didn’t matter. No camera of the highest quality could capture the moment. The moment was not just the view before us. It was that I was standing in a safari car with amazing people from around the world. It was the way two beautiful birds flew past our car without a care in the world. Their graceful simplicity was so mesmerizing. In that moment that I stood staring into the Ngorongoro Crater and I finally realized, “I’m in Africa,” tears filled my eyes carrying so many emotions with them. Some I’ve never felt before. It takes a lot to make me cry, so I knew then that the image of the crater and the feeling that came with it, will forever be in my memory and in my heart, and I will always have an emotional connection to my new favorite place on earth.
Nchi ya ma’ajabu
Hakuna matata. (A wonderful country. There is no problem.) Being in a large group of teens with powerful morals and values similar to your own can end up giving you a beautiful new perspective. An environment like this can inspire you, make you push yourself, and help you grow in confidence. We all came here to do our part in changing the world, but our world ended up changing us. Going to the school and seeing the smiling children reminds us of our purpose in life. Helping others fulfills a great sense of desire in each of us. There is an extreme satisfaction that comes when the children actually understand the lesson we are teaching them. We feel accomplishment in ensuring the safety of the children with every bit of progress in planting the fence. After a great morning of service, a trip to the market to pick up fabric only furthered our love and understanding of life here in the awesome country of Tanzania. We, for a moment, lived the life of a local person when we negotiated the best price for our fabric and then placed our custom orders with a nearby seamstress. Finishing off the day with a blindfolded group trust activity reminded us of the greatness of our group which was able to complete a series of odd tasks while lacking several essential senses and modes of communication. We’re a dynamic group in an amazing country, just trying to “be the change.”
“Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe
Today’s quote perfectly sums up our day, as we began our teaching as well as our physical project at Himo-Korona School. Both tasks required us to adapt to new situations and our excellent mentors and teachers helped us to nurture these new talents. After teaching, we got to play with the children, who were so overjoyed to interact in a more personal and playful environment. We read to them and taught them new games, and in return they taught us new songs and games of their own.
After learning that using a pickaxe is not easy, and after an amazing lunch, we split into mentor groups and participated in a different activity. One group went to Tuleeni Orphanage where we met the founder, Mama Faraji, who provides care and education to children whose parents have died from diseases like malaria and HIV-AIDS, without government funding. Another group learned batik painting and created some masterpieces. The third group visited a local coffee plantation where they drank the freshest cup of coffee they’d every tasted. We finished the day with a leadership activity and shared teaching tips that we are all eager to use in the classroom tomorrow.
–Nina, Alex & Elizabeth
“Be The Change You Wish To See In The World”
This small but powerful message illustrates today’s events. Leadership was today’s focal point. Indeed, two activities in particular truly enabled all of us to rethink what leadership is all about and how to become a leader. First, our guest speaker, Mr. Chalamila, a local teacher, gave us an exhaustive introduction to contemporary contemporary issues in Tanzania, both social and economic. As we discussed Tanzanian history, he invited us to come up with theories concerning solutions to modern problems in Tanzania. This experience consequently gave us a taste of leadership at its core, which is analyzing an issue and finding creative solutions that are likely to inspire others. Secondly, the leadership workshop this evening was a truly enlightening activity. We (at least those of us not exhausted after a long and eventful day!) got to reflect on great leaders from Mother Theresa to F.D.R and Martin Luther King, and we watched presentations not only on how to be a leader, but also on the danger of stereotypes and how to make the most of your existence. Today’s conclusion, my opinion, is that anyone can be a leader as long as you have the internal motivation to impact your environment positively. With such intentions, one will naturally inspire others to follow him. With the right attitude, changing the world is up to you, and you alone. Again: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Raphael D.
Day 1 was packed with activity here at the Moshi home base! The group is asleep as I write this. They endured long journeys, lost luggage and cancelled flights to get here; sat through a full morning of orientation; learned how to greet people in Swahili; took a walk through the village; spent the afternoon visiting in the homes of our host families; and capped off the night with a lively get-to-know-you activity. Tomorrow we’ll visit our service site, host our first guest speaker, do some fun cultural activities and kick off our Leadership workshops. We have a lot of great activities and adventures planned for our short time together and everyone’s resting up tonight for the exciting days ahead. Stay tuned for updates from our student leaders in the coming days. We’re gonna have a blast together and we can’t wait to share our stories and photos with you. Usiku mwema. (g’night) –Shan S., International Program Director
Students are all here in Tanzania!
All students have arrived safely in-country and have been picked up by staff. More updates to come!