Wow. You guys are gone and we miss you terribly.
Our last few days together were some of our most memorable:
We hiked to cold waterfalls in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
We stuffed ourselves on Mama Digna’s delicious final banquet dinner.
We laughed and cheered at our hilarious talent show.
We wept tearfully at the early departure of our friends.
We held each other close at our bonfire.
We hugged it out at our final reflection.
And then we danced our way to the airport.
It was a pleasure to spend the last three weeks with you and we hope you’ll remember us as you continue your journeys of discovery, adventure and service in your communities and onward in your lives. Keep in touch and enjoy the rest of your summer. We love you guys!
–The entire GLA Moshi team
All students are on their way home after an amazing program!
Today, unfortunately, was a very sad day for us all—filled with
goodbyes to all the wonderful people we’ve come to know and love at
the Himo-Korona Primary School and our host families here in Rau
village. So, to lighten the mood this morning, our mentor group
decided to prepare a pancake breakfast for everyone at the home base.
Teaching went well and at recess we coordinated a huge circle of all
the H-K pupils and GLA students, so we could say goodbye and thank
them for allowing us the opportunity to learn from them and help them
grow these past three weeks.
After another Mama Digna all-star lunch, a couple of our friends put
together a short workshop on self-image and self-worth. The words and
ideas they shared really opened our eyes to recognizing and
celebrating all of the great things about each of us that we can’t
We spent the afternoon hours visiting with our host families for the
last time, thanking them for welcoming us so warmly and sharing fond
farewells. It’s been great getting to know them and seeing how
Tanzanians live. We’ll miss them terribly.
After dinner we did our final Leadership workshop. We watched some
really inspirational TedTalks and worked together to create an action
plan for how we can continue to give back to the world after we’ve
left Tanzania and returned to our lives at home.
Our quote ties into our day by reminding us that hard work isn’t about
recognition, so much as it is about selflessly helping others.
–Nikki N. & Lenna P.
Friday, August 1
Our Leadership activity for the night was a series of presentations to
the group on wild animals we might see on safari this weekend. Groups
of three or four GLA students were assigned one or two animals and
given two to three minutes to tell us a few interesting facts about
them. Each presentation was creative and well thought out and we
gained a lot of knowledge very quickly from each others’ research.
Once everybody had presented, we watched a documentary about the
ecology and animals of the Serengeti narrated by none other than Darth
Vader (aka James Earl Jones.) The documentary was both entertaining
and educational. We packed our overnight bags, and to end the night
and fire up our excitement for the weekend, we watched ‘The Lion
Saturday, August 2
On Saturday morning we woke at our usual time, but not to a usual day.
WE’RE GOING ON SAFARI!
We loaded onto our bus and drove to Arusha where we then switched into
our badass Landcruisers for the weekend. Two-and-a-half hours later we
arrived at the gate to Tarangire National Park. We ate a quick lunch
and began our adventure. In our four hours there, we saw everything
from elephants to giraffes and zebra to mongoose. We saw wildebeest,
dik-dik, storks, eagles, warthogs and, as a grand finale, a shy
We were all mind-blown by the crazy experience we got to share
together and after our long day of adventuring together, we headed
into the sunset, crossing the one and only Great Rift Valley to reach
our hotel. We were welcomed with warm “Karibus!” and a glass of fresh
juice. We got ourselves settled into our huge double and triple rooms,
ate a wonderful traditional dinner and went straight to bed eager for
our early wake up on Sunday.
Sunday, August 3
We rose at 5:30 on Sunday to cool morning air, making the rounds to
awaken our fellow GLA students under a still-dark, pre-dawn sky. At
6:30 we left the hotel and ventured out to the Ngorongoro Crater.
We arrived at the entrance gate shrouded in fog. An hour of ‘African
Massage’ (aka very rough, bouncy roads) brought us to the crater rim
and our first breathtaking view of the area. The excitement was
building as we gazed down at our destination from a great distance. We
eagerly boarded the Jeeps for the short drive down, and closer, to the
abundant, exotic wildlife below.
One thing I found fascinating was the variety of different
environments in the crater. For instance, we encountered a lush,
bright green watering hole surrounded by a vast, hot, dry, yellow
desert. The rim and steep walls of the crater are densely forested,
but the floor is a grassland devoid of trees because a thick layer of
volcanic ash fell when the crater formed.
Again we were delighted by a plethora of wildlife, however today was
special because we had a lot more opportunity to observe lions
resting, eating and hunting, and we even had a very close encounter
with a lioness.
Six short hours in the crater flew by, filled with Kodak moments and
even more unforgettable memories with friends. Our two-day adventure
ended with a brief, but stunning, view of Mount Kilimanjaro, ending
our safari experience on a gorgeous note.
Our day began at 6:30am. After a wonderful breakfast cooked by Mama
Digna, we all headed to Himo-Korona school. The morning was full of
smiling faces and cheerful laughter, and of course hard-working GLA
After finishing our work on the fence, we made our way back to the
home base for lunch. This lunch was different from all of our others
because we were given the challenge to eat what an average person eats
in an average day in rural Tanzania. The portion size we were given
was reflective of a full-day’s meal. It gave all of us the opportunity
to acknowledge how different our life is from the lives of people
Following lunch, the mentor groups split up and Lisa’s group stayed
home to make batik paintings, while Kath and Clarissa’s groups went to
St Mary’s secondary school.
The evening ended with safari prep and wild animal presentations.
We’re looking forward to the weekend!
–Jasmine & Riva
Today was another exciting day in Tanzania. To kick it off, we took a peaceful walk around the village with our mentor groups to observe the morning routines of the local people. It was a relaxing way to prepare for the busy day ahead of us.
We packed our bags after the walk and headed to the work site, where we planted 150 trees and carried more than 150 buckets of water. Everyone worked efficiently and managed to finish our project in under an hour. Tomorrow we’re back to plant more trees. Although we weren’t able to teach in the classroom today because of the Eid holiday, it still was an extremely productive morning.
As always, we returned to the home base, where a delicious lunch prepared by Mama Digna awaited us. (Asante, Mama D!)
Our afternoon was packed full of interesting guest speakers. We learned about issues in education and health care in Tanzania. The
inspirational speakers made everyone realize how fortunate we really are.
Considering we had been sitting for a long time with our speakers, it was nice to take another walk in the village for some more mentor group time. In our small groups we took the opportunity to reflect on our lives and experiences.
Over another wonderful meal we had a great time talking with our peers about our amazing day. We finished the night with an eye-opening workshop on global development. We watched a couple of Ted Talks and learned about some of the most concerning problems facing our world today.
Overall, today was an awesome and productive day. We can’t believe how fast our time is going here!
–Lauren M. & Ashley R.
(ps: Today was also Lauren’s birthday. We love you, Lauren!)
When GLA students stepped off the bus in Maasai land, we were warmly welcomed into the community with traditional Maasai clothing, jewelry and dance. Students and mentors alike immediately joined in the festivities, jumping alongside the Maasai warriors.
After learning a bit more about the culture from Raymond, our extremely intelligent and inspiring Maasai guide, it was time to prepare dinner. Participating in the sheep slaughter was optional and we could chose to do anything from completely opting out to physically helping with the butchering. Regardless of choice, everyone understood that slaughter is an integral part of life and culture, and that no part of the animal goes to waste.
After a delicious dinner, we spent the evening by the bonfire dancing with the tribe, and sleeping under the twinkling stars. When we woke the following morning, we split into groups depending on whether one wanted to go on a Warrior Walk or a Botanic Walk.
Those who trekked the 6-kilometer Warrior Walk agree that learning about native plants, throwing spears and admiring the landscape made it a great experience. Those who remained near the village learned about medicinal plants and were delighted by the kindness, respect and knowledge of the local children.
All in all, our Maasai weekend excursion was a successful one and certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
–Natalie D. & Nicki N.
A Full Day!
Day 8 started with another delicious breakfast from Mama D. Right after breakfast we rode to the worksite and attempted to tame some kids (aka: wild, rabid animals) ages 7 to 14.
The classroom teaching is steadily improving but we’re still working on keeping control over the classes and distinguishing between what our pupils have and have not learned.
Our work project has been, and will continue to be, hilarious due to all of the pick-axing girls in maxi-skirts making mad progress on digging a fence row to protect the children.
After community service we returned home for lunch and ate entirely too much, as always—props to Mama Digna again. Our afternoon activities were split by mentor groups, touring a coffee plantation, visiting an orphanage and staying home to cook dinner.
We concluded our day with a personality trait test followed by a discussion about our weekend excursion to the Maasai village. We can’t wait for the weekend and our further adventures to come!
— Maggie J. & Erin H.
Culture & Learning
Today began with a little bit of rain, which put our service plans up in the air, but once we arrived at the school, it turned out to be a beautiful day. Our work went well. We started on the second half of our furrow, doing as much work today as we did in the past two combined.
Plans to tour a leather workshop were dashed, but instead we visited a craft shop in town with a huge assortment of t-shirts, textiles, carvings, paintings, bead work and other handicrafts. A few of us chose to spend time on the WiFi at an Internet café and picked up some snacks at the supermarket next door.
Back home to yet another all-star lunch from Mama Digna and after lunch, a nice talk with Mama Simba, learning about her life and what it means to grow up Tanzanian. We were then visited by a guest speaker from NAFGEM, a group working to stop the cultural practice of female circumcision.
After our afternoon of cultural workshops, we took a long walk through Rau village with Godwin acting as our guide, returned home to another amazing dinner, and capped off the night with the film, “Blood Diamond.”
It was a great day and we’re really enjoying our time here.
–Zach G. & Callie Rae K.
A Hard Day of Work
A cold morning greeted us and after a hearty breakfast of omelets and French toast we ventured out to our service site. Because of national examinations, our students were not in class. Instead we spent our morning digging the furrow. We completed our task, but not without obstacles, including roots, rocks and water pipes.
After a hard days work we headed to a local park adjacent to a primary school near our home base. The area was serene and peaceful; until the school kids came running towards the new strangers on their playground. We played for a while, and because of the proximity to our home base, several of us opted to walk back while the others climbed aboard our bus.
Another delicious lunch of chapatti (like a tortilla) beans, guacamole, salad and fruit, the three mentor groups spread out for afternoon activities. One group visited a local organic coffee plantation where they learned about the process of coffee cultivation. The farmers then showed us how to roast and grind the beans to brew a very tasty cup of coffee.
The second group visited Tuleeni orphanage where they met a 23-year-old American woman from Texas who has been working with the orphans here for several years. One of our GLA group described the visit as, “inspirational,” and another said, “monumental and life-changing.”
The final group stayed home with Mama Digna to cook up a savory dinner including a cake for dessert, which was a nice surprise.
At one point in the evening, the power went out, which left us fumbling for flashlights to light our way through a series of
light-hearted and fun mentor activities. Our night ended in the dark, with the power still out, using our flashlight beams to find our way to bed.
–-Agathe O. & Jesse Z.
We woke up early today with excitement because today was our first community service day at the Himo-Korona primary schools. The swarms of loving children have already captured our hearts. Singing ‘We Will Rock You,’ ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and Swahili songs with the children never ceases to delight us all. Their eagerness to learn is so inspiring to all of us here at GLA.
As soon as class was over the children jumped out of their seats and immediately embraced us. Questions were asked, hair was braided, games were played and hands were held.
We kick-started the labor portion of our service project by learning how to use the pick axes and shovels to create furrows for the live fence we’ll be planting. After a quick safety lesson, we dug right in! We got a great start today and everyone took turns shoveling and using a pick ax.
Later in the afternoon we broke into our mentor groups and each headed to a different activity. One group visited a secondary school to meet students our own age, another went to a massive used clothes market, and the third group stayed home to learn batik painting.
All in all, today was a wonderful day and we can’t wait for many more to come.
–Aspen S. & Carly H.
First Day at the Schools
“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” –James Thurber
We started our day off with this quote because today marked our first visit to Himo and Korona primary schools and we wanted to emphasize the importance of immersing ourselves in the moment rather than, “living life through a camera lens.” (thanks, Shan!)
Our morning was filled with eager children ready to be taught and eager teachers ready to teach (us). Afterward, we had the privilege of splitting into two groups to go either to a local craft market or to an Internet café in Moshi.
After a delicious lunch of makande (maize and beans) our guest speaker, Mr. Chalamila, enlightened us with his knowledge of modern Tanzania and some of the controversies and issues facing people here.
A seamstress came to the home base before dinner to take our measurements for some traditional Tanzanian clothing. The whole day was exciting and busy and we’re filled with anticipation for what is to come next in the program.
We have all been humbled by the happiness and hospitality of the people of Rau.
And last but not least, nothing brightened our day like a good round of dancing with Godwin to complete the day!
–Lenna P. & Maria S.
Bonding & Growing
Day three and we continued getting to know our GLA family, which today grew larger and closer.
After this morning’s Swahili lesson we had lunch with our host families at the home base and later we were able to visit their homes
and families to experience a slice of everyday life here in Rau, Tanzania.
Everybody was extremely friendly and happy to welcome us into their homes. Due to our limited knowledge of Swahili, communicating with our host families was the most challenging part of the day, but at the same time it was the most rewarding. We learned so much and felt like we shared a lot about ourselves too.
Today our hearts settled a little deeper into life here in Tanzania with the addition of more members to our family.
–Olivia D. & Brianna T.
An Exciting Day
Wake up was at 7:30 today, giving us time to get ready for the day before breakfast at 8:00. After breakfast we had a Swahili lesson, reviewing yesterdays words and learning words to help us bargain at the market that would come in handy later in the day.
We headed into the town of Moshi for a quick tour and to change money, hit the supermarket for some snacks and grab a couple minutes of WiFi at Kili Java, a coffee shop.
Leaving town, we drove a few miles to the market to pick out fabric that the seamstress will use to make various custom-made clothing items for us next week.
After lunch the Kilimanjaro Wizards & Arts Group came to the home base and put on an amazing singing, drumming and dancing show for us. One highlight was a dance performance featuring a live snake.
We had our first Leadership workshop after dinner and then each student was given their mentor group assignment. We finished off the night singing happy birthday to Vanessa and sharing her birthday cake.
It was an exciting day and we’re looking forward to many more.
–Alison P. & Evy O.
(ps: Hi Mom & Dad!)
To further get acquainted with Rao Village, we went on a walk throughout the natural areas and the residential and commercial areas surrounding us.
Our local staff and neighbors took us across a small bridge, and then a big bridge, over the Rau River. Crossing the small bridge was an adrenaline adventure, with solidly 20% of the planks missing! It felt like we were in an Indiana Jones film.
The landscapes were breathtaking. Photo opportunities were all around– pictures of us and also the views from the bridges came out great. Although the walk was only an hour, our knowledge about the Tanzanian culture and landscape grew exponentially.
Our walk today was truly the first step in a long journey and it makes us happy to know that this is only the beginning.
–Eric W. & Lauren A.
The gang’s all here!
The Moshi Heart & Soul of Africa group has arrived and, despite a couple of late flights and delayed luggage, everyone is happy, healthy and settling in well.
Our first day together has been a busy one. We kicked it off with some upbeat African music and a breakfast of toast, omelets, fresh fruit and lots of hot coffee to help clear away the jet lag.
We spent a few minutes getting to know the home base staff before launching into a series of short discussions on health & safety, manners & customs, a crash course in basic Swahili.
We filled out the required visitor paperwork for the local immigration authorities and took a short break before sitting down to a fantastic lunch of chicken and rice, salad and fresh fruit prepared for us by none other than the legendary Mama Digna.
After a walk to familiarize ourselves with Rau village, we returned home to play some fun group games before dinner. We continued to get acquainted after dinner and turned in for the night, eager and excited for the days ahead.
All students have arrived in country and are ready for an amazing program! Stay tuned for blog updates and photos!