All students have arrived safely and are ready for an amazing program!
It has been a whirlwind so far but we are excited for a new adventure! Our whole family arrived last night, everyone feeling strong, with only a few baggage issues that appeared as challenges. Our first day has been full of information, games, activities, and orientation to get everyone more and more enthusiastic about being in Arusha for the next 21 days!
We started the day with some fun games with all of the local staff to get to know each other better. We got our first look at the community by walking to the school field, and it was really cool to finally get a look at our surroundings! (It was dark out when we arrived last night). Playing games at the soccer field was a good introduction to our school where we will be spending the next few weeks and we even got to meet some of our students. Once back at the Homebase we learned the house rules and took a tour to become familiar with Homebase. After lunch we learned we took care of some logistics and had a crash course on Tanzanian culture, getting to learn some Swahili words!
Even though the afternoon seemed long, spirits are high and the group is already becoming close, supportive, and excited for what’s to come. Here’s to the session, much love to everyone back home!
Today was our first day at the service site. We were greeted by the headmaster, met the teachers that we are going to work with and got a chance to play with our students. After a short tea break, fueled by peanut butter sandwiches, we headed off to service. Our two major projects this session are restoring classrooms and fixing desks.
Once we were done with service, we headed back to home base where Baba Joseph had made Indian Food. Avocados and flat bread complimented the lentils perfectly. After lunch, we loaded up the big bus and headed to “Town.” Arusha is about twenty minutes away and we spent time walking through town, buying fabric and stopped at a local supermarket to buy snacks.
After another dinner, our mentors Laura and Ashley led a session called “The Danger of a Single Story.” We watched videos combating stereotypes and talked about how it’s important to keep an open mind. Tomorrow we are going on a local hike and to the market.
Day four of our Tanzanian adventure was awesome! We woke up and had breakfast around 7:30, preparing ourselves for the five-hour hike we took to Mt. Shimbumbu. We walked a beautiful path with wildlife all around, and then encountered a cave that was literally meant for fairies and other very small creatures. The hole we had to climb through to get into the cave was extremely small! We had to slide in
feet first, which got all of our clothes covered in mud. I, being almost abnormally tall, found it very difficult to do this because of my super long legs but it was sure an experience I will never forget. There wasn’t much room inside the cave either because a huge boulder blocked its path, so we didn’t spend too much time in there. After we got out, we got to learn about the history of the cave from our tour guide. Later in the day, we went to the local market Tengeru where we bought ingredients from vendors. It was so interesting seeing all the people live their daily lives and getting to experience Tanzania as if we actually lived there. After we bought all our ingredients, we used them to cook dinner with Baba Joseph. We all worked together to make a delicious meal; one of the best we’ve had on this trip so far. After dinner, we had the rest of the night to celebrate Fourth of July! Our mentor, Ashley, brought us sparklers and light-up balloons to enjoy. Although the sparkles didn’t really work to well, we think because of the humidity, it was still a great way to end a day full of fun and excitement. ☺
By, Taylor Cotchett
Today was amazing; in the morning we got the privilege of sleeping in till 8:30. After breakfast we had a quick lesson on women’s groups, IGA’s and microfinance. We then had a Swahili crash course, leading into lunch. We spent the remainder of the afternoon with our host families, enjoying the sun and experiencing the culture. For example, I went and spent time with students during Sunday school while others went to a lake or walked around the village. Coming home to find a well-prepared meal, we shared exciting stories of the day. We finished the day with a lesson plan for upcoming service at school.
By Chris Hughes
Today, after another delicious breakfast made by Baba Joseph, we head off to meet the Usa women’s group. They gave us a tour of their compound, showing us where they grew bananas, corn, papayas, and sugar cane. Afterwards, we prepared a green banana soup and corn for a pre-lunch snack. The women also showed us how to weave banana leaf place mats.
In the afternoon, we split into our teaching groups and led our classes at the Patandi primary school. It was quite daunting standing up in front of a room full of children trying to teach them English. After class, as the children brought us out to the field to play, I couldn’t help but smile even with five girls tugging at my hair.
After some time of playing with the kids, we made our way to the other classroom where we continued sanding down the walls and fixing broken desks. Once we got back to home base we enjoyed a lovely meal that included delicious guacamole, thanks to the avocados gifted by our host families. To end the day, Upendo and Godwin gave us insight about the Tanzanian education system. J
By Emily Cotchett
Wednesday we went to the market because some of us needed fabric. When we got back the seamstress took our orders and measurements; it was different having someone take all of your measurements exactly to your body. It is very different from buying clothes in the US or having clothes altered. People got many different things but all of the boys got one or more blazers made and most if not all of the girls got skirts. Afterwards we all went to service and because it was our second day it went far better than the first. This was because we had an idea of what the local students knew, and in what way we should teach them the lessons we had planned. Later, Ashley, one of the Mentors, briefed us on Female Genital Cutting, a very prevalent issue in this region of the world. She briefed us on this because there was a panel coming the next day. Ashley gave us a very objective view on this issue, to present us with a scientific and unbiased reference when compared to a more specific viewpoint of the issue the next day. It was helpful to have all the facts so we were ready for the panel. Everything is great!
– Jared Gross
On Thursday, July 9, we started the day with a panel that discussed Female Genital Mutilation. It was both informative and disturbing. After that, we walked to the local university to watch and interact with the Kilimanjaro Wizard dance group. It was the most bizarre, exotic, and altogether terribly fascinating performance. I can say for certain that I could not tear my eyes away for the entirety of the performance.
We returned home for lunch, which was when one of our mentors, Ashley, broke the news to us that she was leaving our trip early. Everyone was sad to let her go, but it was understood that she had a family emergency that she had to tend to. The mood of the day was dampened, but our responsibilities took precedence so we left for service to resume the day. However, we cut our service hours short so that we could properly say goodbye to Ashley before Laura drove her to the airport.
After many tears, hugs, farewell letters, and photographs, Ashley was on her way back home.
After dinner, we had speakers representing three of the biggest tribes in Tanzania: Chagga, Maasai, and Meru. We were all very tired, but they each had very interesting information to share about their tribal cultures.
And then we went to sleep! The End!
By Julia Wengler
Friday, July 10, was a very eventful and fun day. Wake up call was around 7:15 and since most everyone is officially on Tanzania time, we all woke up pretty exhausted and in need of Baba Joseph’s coffee (I’ve officially turned into a coffee drinker because of this trip!!!). We started our day by walking to the nearby lake to meet up with some Maasai mamas. There, the mamas taught us how to bead which was actually a lot harder than it may seem. I ended up with a bracelet and some earrings. Everyone showed off his or her newly beaded bracelets, crowns, necklaces, anklets, etc on the walk back to home base. We had some time to lesson plan, eat lunch, and then we headed off for school. In my teaching group (Linjun, Emma, and Kenzie), we created a review quiz of some of the topics we had taught that week. We rewarded the kids to a dance party at break and star stickers on each of their quiz papers (which is basically equivalent to gold at Patandi Primary School). At service, I worked on desks while the second service group painted the windows bars of one of the classrooms. Friday night we all got to go to a nearby hotel and connect to WiFi for the first time on the trip. It was awesome to be able to post a picture or two, see what’s up at home, and connect with my family for a little (Hi mom and dad!!!!). We all came home and had a quick orientation about our Maasai trip the next morning then went straight to bed because of a lovely 4 am wakeup call awaiting us in the morning. All is well here in Tanzania
– Amy Schloss
This morning we woke at 4am and had coffee and peanut butter sandwiches before getting on our bus to the Maasai Boma. The drive there was incredible – we started off in complete darkness and then as we were driving down a mountainside the sun rose over the Great Rift Valley illuminating the endless savannah.
We hopped off the bus to be greeted by some Maasai elders and were immediately shown their livestock and setup. It was the most incredible sight any of us had seen – a few simple mud huts and the colours and beads of the Maasai against the unreal backdrop. We were given an insight into their culture before heading off on a walking safari. We trekked through the dust and bushes for a while before spotting a ton of giraffes grazing in the trees. A bit further on and we walked right passed a herd of zebras. It was so cool to be able to see animals up close that you would only usually see in a zoo.
We walked for more than 3 hours before the heat really got to us and we hiked back up a dusty hill to the Boma. Everyone collapsed under a tree and drank a ton of water.
After a delicious lunch some people went to watch two goats being slaughtered for a second lunch but others stayed back with some Maasai who showed us their jewelry and were intrigued by their reflections in my camera.
The men and women performed their traditional dance for us and some of us even had a go. We had quick look inside one of the huts before we had the privilege of throwing the men’s spears.
The culture of the Maasai was so amazing to experience and the sights we saw were indescribable. Everyone was super tired and dirty on the bus ride home, but after singing happy birthday to Chris and having some well deserved bucket showers everyone went to bed. (Hi mum dad and family!!)
Today started off at 7:15 a.m. with my wake up call of a VERY loud drum. We all eagerly went downstairs for a delicious breakfast of fried eggs, bakes, and our classic porridge. After our bellies were full, we put our minds to work and developed our lesson plans for the day with our designated groups. Next, we had a feedback session with the local staff where we reviewed our anonymous suggestions for improvement. Mama Simba and the rest of the crew were awesome in working with us and listening to our ideas to try to make our great experience even more fantastic. After that, we met up with Laurent who guided us to his coffee plantation. He took us through an in-depth explanation of the development and growth of the plant from bean to brew. After enjoying our cups of coffee we roasted and ground ourselves, we walked back to home base for a scrumptious lunch prepared by the one and only Baba Joseph. After a short break, we gathered our backpacks and walked over to the Patandi Primary School for service at 2:00. Chris, Julia, Taylor and I worked together to teach our class more about past, present, and future verb conjugations and concepts of time. After class time, we went outside to play with the kids for a bit. Once all our hair had been braided, shoes dirtied from football, and voices tired of screaming and singing, we said, “Badaye!” meaning “Later!” in Swahili. We finished our peanut butter and margarine sandwiches and then split up into our two groups to work on broken desks and painting classrooms. Afterwards, we came back to home base and ate dinner. We all took quick bucket showers and went back downstairs for Laura’s presentation about Public Health, Ebola, Malaria, HIV/AIDS and the stigma and issues around them. We quickly met up with the seamstress for final alterations and then headed up to bed for a good night’s sleep.
– Emily R.
The day begun with an innovative wake-up call, synthesized by your most humble, me! After the ringing of the fire alarm that was our wake-up call, sourced from the web, and projected by a portable speaker, we were greeted by a feast, prepared by our always impressive Baba Joseph (Father Joseph). Shortly after our delicious meal, dishes and silverwares were washed, and a HIV/AIDS panel introduced. The panel, consisting of five members, and with a mission to “restore humanity” for those who discriminate, and to fight against stigmatization. It was their presentation which revealed to us the struggles faced by people living with HIV/AIDS, further complemented by their fascinating and intimate personal stories, it is fair to say that we were on a “spiritual” journey of sorts, staffed with exciting adventures, and concluding with a measure of how much opinion has changed, in part due to efforts by panels such as these. Shortly after the conclusion of this presentation, Kate and Laura introduced our next activity, a picture scavenger hunt! And it was this activity which engaged two hours of our time, dragging our groups, three groups of five, into every corner of Tangeru. When we returned, we were flushed with excitement, and this excitement, with its associated happiness, was quite obvious on all of our faces. It was in the commons that we spent the thirty minutes until lunch, sharing, and, of course, laughing about the many pictures we had taken, as well as some of the more comical expressions on our faces as we posed. This was a brilliant time. After yet another delicious lunch, served by our brilliant head chief Baba Joseph, we were ushered to the local primary school for our community service, where we spent just under two hours teaching standard VI students English, played, then fixed desks or painted until 17:45, or 11:45 Tanzanian time.
After dinner, we engaged in something called “Privilege Beads”, where, if I can speak for all present, we discovered, or rediscovered, how incredible the concept of privilege is, how culture modifies privilege, as well as how privilege is not something to fear, but something to enjoy and share. In fact, at least for me, I have never realized how fortunate I was, yet, I am quite content to enjoy my fortunes, because it is our responsibilities to not waste opportunities, and use our fortunes to improve those of others. In short, this activity was quite refreshing, and brilliant in both design and execution.
July the 15th was an eventful day, and, though we may not have done something extraordinary, it is fair to say that this day symbolized everything we loved about this program, and is not simply just “another day”, but instead much more. On a final note: Happy Birthday Emmanuella!!!!!!
Signing off, Linjun Peng. Godspeed.
Today we woke up and went to Arusha! After that we went to the Maasai Market and bought some African souvenirs. Next, we had a delicious lunch then left for service! When we came back, we were pretty tired. But we had Baba’s amazing dinner to look forward to. Finally to end the day, we played jeopardy. It had history, Swahili and education topics about Tanzania. It was so much fun! Today was a great day!
After a yummy breakfast from our Baba Joseph, we focused on how to take everything we learned in Tanzania back to home. After realizing how amazing our time has been, we walked down to the river where we learned about the next steps on our journey of service. Afterward, we had a fantastic time relaxing by the river. After the river, we returned to home base and ate a delicious lunch. Then, we went to service, which was awesome (like usual)! After another tasty dinner, we celebrated our amazing local staff with a super cool cake! The night ended with a talk by Lodrick, prepping us for tomorrow’s safari…it definitely will be awesome! I can’t wait!!!