Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
To my dear amazing friends I met in Tengeru this summer
I’m packing now to go for another adventure, to travel to Asia. I look at my bags and recall the moment from the middle of June when I was preparing to go to Tanzania. I can’t believe it’s already been a few months since we all said „Goodbye”. I can still smell Geoffrey’s food, hear the rooster, baby and water buffalo for the wall behind our house. All those memories came back.
This last summer was incredible. Tanzania was a totally new experience for me. I’ve been waiting for it for 3 years and you guys made it totally worth waiting for. Thanks to your amazing Tanzanian staff: hilarious Lodrick, carrying Lotha, inspiring Mama Simba, friendly Mamlaka and Upendo and of course other people working in our house like Mama Ushindi, Geoffrey, Agatha, Mama Ketty. I won’t forget our safari trip, visit to Maasai boma, chow circles around the table, paper plate awards, and mentor groups. Maybe they were not always fun but after all those weeks and month they are still in my head and I can recall thought we shared and what we felt at that time. You guys all grew so much, everyone in different ways.
I can still see the faces of our Patandi students and the smiles while we were there. Your faces with masks while sanding the blackboards and your black hands after painting them. I will never forget the tears when we said “Goodbye” to them on the last day of school service. You all should know what impact you made with your hard work in those schools. There were definitely a lot of lollipop moments!
The past summer was unforgettable. It impacted all of us. I hope you are happy to be back at school with your friends, getting adjusted to that life style, sharing your experience and implementing your ideas. I also hope that this experienced changed you in a way no one ever expected and you that will cherish those memories and use all you learned to implement in your communities.
All the best to all of you,
Session 1 Memories
- Colored powder party in front of the home base!
- Martyna was attacked by a monkey during safari…and a goat at the orphanage.
- Lodrick was stealing food from all social classes during Hunger Banquet because his role card was a poor Ethiopian farmer that had 11 children
- Mayson showing up the Kili Wizards dance troupe and teaching them how to twerk!
- Will tried to outduel the dancer at his “driving the car” dance move during Kili Wizards dance troupe but flipped over embarrassingly.
- On one of the last days, the group burst into the “When I’m Gone” song with hand clapping and percussions on the bus ride home.
- The whole group was soaked completely at Kilimanjaro and many took a stumble and slid down the hill.
- Carly achieved her dream of milking a goat at the Maasai!
- A bunch of students created a “No Flies Zone” huddling under a shuka at the Maasai boma.
- Eugenie and Elle held a beauty salon evening for all the international staff by plucking eyebrows, doing make up, and shaving.
Summer Blog Posts
We start this long journey in an airport, where we fly over oceans to get to our destination of Tanzania! As we exit the airport we see the sign welcoming us to Tanzania help by our soon to be family, Audrey and Bri! We take a 45 min. drive back to our base where we will live for the next 21 days. We then eat a traditional Tanzanian dinner and go to sleep.
After having some scary dreams from taking our Malaria pills, we start our day with a breakfast of Toast, eggs and fruit! Then we jump right into orientation, I mean every adventure has it rules. We go over common do’s and do not’s of the culture in the area. Then Mama Simba makes an extravagant appearance, she gives of a speech of power! She tells us she loves us and thank you for coming and experiencing her Country. All feeling very welcomed with slightly hungry tummies we get set for lunch. We ate rice with beans and a various vegetable combinations. As we slowly but surely learn each others’ names we prepare our selves for the journeys to come!
(Here in this beautiful country, things are often misperceived so I ask all who are really curious about what work we will be doing to watch a Ted Talk called “The danger of a single story”.)
– Elle Mickelson
Dear mzungus (foreigners)!
The community in this area is one that I’ve never experienced before. Everyone is a family; everyone cares for each other. Greetings are customary here where they are always expected as you pass a person in the street, and it’s amazing how bright people smile here after a simple hello. Mama Simba, our country director, has taught us amazing things about the basis of Tanzanian culture and how they live here in this third world country. I had never thought of how much water I use and food I waste, but as Mama Simba put it, “the food that you throw away kills someone on the street.” It’s only been two full days here, and, as cliché as it sounds, I already have a new perspective on things.
During our first visit to the school, we were given a quick rundown and tour of the school, but then we were allowed to enter the schoolyard and play with kids. As soon as each of us stepped out, each member of our group was chosen by a child to hold their hand and play games with them. My girl’s name is Shanazi: she is 11 years old and has many brothers and sisters. Saying goodbye to her after playing soccer, simon says, and hand games, was so hard, that it’s impossible to imagine how hard it would be to say goodbye when we leave. Some of the kids walked us back to our house, and Shanazi insisted on carrying my backpack. The best part of my day was that each time I would kiss her head goodbye (they followed us after each time we leftJ ), she would push my shoulders down and kiss my head as well. These are the happiest, most well behaved kids I think I’ve ever met. It’s a blessing to me to be given the opportunity to teach them and spend my time with them.
I honestly could not be happier here. I love every single member of the group, including the staff. It’s amazing how many like minded people are my age and how now I know types of people I didn’t think existed. I want nothing more than to stay here with Mama Simba, her son Lodrick, Shanazi, Lota, a local staff member, and all the other little kids, like Noella and Grace. Life is so simple and happy here: they really do live by the phrase ‘hakuna matata.’
P.S: Hi mom and dad!!! Although I love you guys so much, I’m having such a great time here that I don’t want to leave. I’m trying to devise a plan that’ll let me stay another week J Also I’m going by the name Bean now.
-Gillian Bean Chanko
Today we woke up extra early today, 6:15am, to eat breakfast. We woke up extra early because we had to take an hour bus ride to hike on Mount Kilimanjaro. We had eggs, pancakes, toast, watermelon, and pineapples. Once we finished breakfast and we got our backpacks, rain jackets, and took our box lunches provided by the chef at the home site. Once we got in the bus, it was a long bus ride, so we have to see a lot of the Tanzania countryside, markets, farms, and lots of cows and goats. At Mount Kilimanjaro (which is the 4th tallest mountain in the word) we met our mountain tour guides. On Mount Kilimanjaro, it was cold and raining very hard. We went into the tourist shelter at the Kilimanjaro base they told us facts about Mount Kilimanjaro. The hike was steep at parts, with slippery slopes because of the rain. During the hike, we saw beautiful views including two waterfalls. At the waterfall, we took many pictures, because it was soooo beautiful. Then after the hike all our cloths was wet, and we were all very cold. On the way back to the home base, we stopped by art gallery. The art gallery had lots of local hand painted paintings, and hard carven wooden sculptures. Everyone bought lots of beautiful paintings, and sculptures while spending only around ten dollars. Then after the market, we drove home, and ate dinner. The dinner was traditional African food, It was delicious. Then we played a game called Alpha and Beta, which simulated the language and culture barriers between Tanzania and us, and how we could best make the barrier as small as possible. Overall, it was a fun day.
– Will Gao
Today the GLA students met with their host families. Some of them spoke some english but most of them spoke little to none. We learned basic phrases in swahili beforehand so we were able to minimally communicate with them. The host family that my partner,Hannah, and I were with were very kind. They were close friends with eachother and they brought their 2 children. We had lunch at the GLA homebase and then we went with the families to wherever they wanted to take us. Our family took us to where they take their trash. It’s a big cave and when the trash gets too big, they burn it. We then went to their homes. They showed us pictures of their families and also showed us Tanzanian pop culture. When we got back to homebase, we had free time to do what we wanted. Personally, I used it to change and eat. When my partners for teaching got back, we finished our lesson plans. Then we had dinner which was amazing as per usual! Then, we did an activity about privilage which the other blogger will now talk about (Ginny).
After dinner, we usually do some fun and informative activities. Today, after the dish washers were done with the dishes, we all sat back at the tables, which had been rearranged and some of the tables had two or three bowls of colored beads and one sheet of paper for each bowl. On each sheet of paper was a list of statements referring to privileges (nationality, ability, sexuality, gender/sex, religious, class, and race privileges). We were supposed to take a bead if we could associate with any of the statements. After everybody was done with colecting their respective beads, we put them on wire as bracelets, rings, keychains and things like that. While we did that, we talked about what privilege looks like, and in what shapes, forms and sizes it comes in. While we mentioned different examples that come with all the privileges, Kati would write different things on the board such as hot vs cold water, infastructure, elecricity, new vs used items, and sanitation. We talked about how people can be affected differently by different privileges. Some people shared some personal stories and it really made us all look at things with a different perspective based on what we have available to us on a daily basis and what we have available to us here in Tanzania.
June 26, 2016
Today was a very productive day. Breakfast started at 7:45 and after breakfast we walked to the school to start teaching. In class we got to know each other’s names and what we like to do in our free time. We got the kids to open up and have a bit of fun so that we could make a connection and create a foundation of friendship and trust. After class we all rolled up our sleeves and did some work around the school. Some people were assigned to sand paper the black boards so that a new coat of paint could be applied while others fixed the children’s desks. The children were very appreciative and would go around saying hello to everyone in every classroom. Finishing up at the school, we all decided to play with the kids outside. We played duck-duck goose while some of the girls played rhyming hand games. After playing outside, the children decided to walk us all back to home base. Arriving at home base we said our goodbyes and made promises to return tomorrow. Inside home base we had a delicious lunch made by our amazing cook and friend Jeffery. We had potato salad with rice, mango and avocado salad. Finishing up lunch we had a speaker come in and teach us more about Tanzania’s rich history. We were very grateful and thanked him by rubbing our hands together and saying “pasha pasha pasha”. After lunch we talked about developmental aid and humanitarian aid and what the differences were. Under developmental aid was financial, overseas, social and political while under humanitarian was refugees, homeless, natural disasters and victims of war. After a lengthy discussion and informational video we had dinner thanks to our cook Jeffery. Following our wonderful dinner we got into our mentor groups and played games. The first game we played was called elements. After playing the game we discussed why we were the elements we were (you could be water, fire, wind or earth) and what it meant to us as individuals. After elements we talked about the highs and lows of our days and what emotions we felt. Today has been a day full of learning, happiness and understanding. Learn to listen to the needs of the people and make connections with those around you.
June 28, 2016
Today is Tuesday June 28th and we had our second day of teaching. In my group we split the four of us into two groups and my half we went over “when and why” questions. They were catching on pretty fast and we will only have to do a little bit more of a review. The other half of us taught “perhaps and maybe”. Then we went to the field and played games with the children and shared many laughs. Then we headed to our labor activity. Today was my day to help fix desks, while the other half sanded the chalk boards so we can paint them later.
NOW IT WAS TIME FOR LUNCH WITH GEOFFERY’S AMAZING FOOD!!! After lunch we went to an orphanage and colored with the children and yes that was us teaching them. But to be fair we were drawing animals and objects that were around the room. They were super tired and were falling asleep on a lot of us. Before dinner we were in our mentor groups and talked about our moments in the day and the differences between orphanages in the States and in Africa. WE HAD DINNER WITH GUESTS AND THE FOOD WAS SOOOOO GOOD I COULDN’T EVEN HANDLE IT OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!! THE SOUP AND THE MEAT BUT THEN ALSO THE BEANS AND RICE COMBINATION IS FANTABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!! THE GUESTS WERE TOO NICE AND SUPER INSPIRATIONAL AND I LOVE HEARING THEM SPEAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT WAS MOST OF OUR DAY AND IT IS A BLAST HERE!!!!!! ALSO FOR THE PEOPLE THAT DON’T KNOW ME THE CAPITAL LETTERS ARE EXCITEMENT!!!!!!! THANK YOU FOR READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Gillian Rowland and Taylor Ehrlich
Hey y’all its taylor here. I just want to say how amazing this trip is. This trip really has opened my eyes and made me realize how lucky I am and what I can accomplish as a leader. The people here are so amazing and they are my best friends. Ive never met as sweet and kind people as I have from here. I love my best friends here and I’ve already made so many memories that I will never forget.-Taytay
June 30, 2016
Today was a pretty normal day in the morning. We had breakfast as 7:45 and then headed to the school. It was kind of chilly and it was raining. On the bright side it was one of the first days I didn’t slip in the mud from the rain. After the time was up for teaching, we had our normal break. At this point, it was still raining so a few of us stayed inside the library and the rest still went out and played with the kids. During this time, there was a bit of an adventure. A few kids were playing and they saw a snake, what we believed to be a black mamba. A little boy with amazing aim threw a rock at its head and killed it. Later we found out that that type of snake can’t survive in this area and it was a harmless snake that is identical to the black mamba! After working on the school, fixing desks or painting the chalkboards, we headed back for lunch. Later, we split into two groups. The first group was learning to cook and the other was painting. I was in the cooking group and together we made the dinner for tonight. The guy that came to help paint brought his own paintings and also elephant pants that he sells so everyone had a chance to buy either. On Monday the groups will come back together but switch roles so we all get a chance to do both. After eating the dinner we made, we all watched the movie Girl Rising. It was about women’s struggle for rights in other countries where they are deprived from basic luxuries. We had a good discussion about it. By the end it was around 9:30 and everyone was exhausted and went to bed. From having fun teaching the kids to help cooking dinner to buying a few paintings and a pair of elephant pants, today was a very good day!
Hi all, my name is Bree! So here is the run down for today. We woke up this morning and went to school, just like we have every other day of this week. I think at this point it is getting harder to teach the kids certain material because I think the kids are over us, and just want to play games and braid our hair. However, I have to admit it is a nice challenge to get all of us GLA students to figure out new methods to teach the kids, and to find the one that works the best for each student. Today during our 30 minute break, the girls of the school decided that they did not want to play the games we usually do during their recess, and they wanted to braid hair. Everyone had some pretty awesome hair by the end of recess, but I have to say mine was the best… Thank you Glory! After school, we returned to home base for lunch. Geoffrey made us some really cool pizza- it was so yummy! After lunch we waited for the tailor to arrive, so he could take our measurements and design ideas for our custom outfits we are getting. I am excited! Also while the tailor was here, we had an organization come to talk to us about FGM, or female genital mutilation. The lesson was very informative, and gave me lots of new information on the topic. I did not realize how big of a world issue this actually was, and I am happy that I now have insight on the topic. We all bought bracelets from the organization to help support the cause to help end FGM. We have finally ended the night with yummy popcorn, and singing along to the lion king, in preparation for the safari tomorrow. I am so excited! Lodric told us that the first park we will visit is known for its large groups of elephants! For those of you who don’t know me, I LOVE ELEPHANTS!!!!!!!!! I am sure that the other people in my safari car will have to hold me when I see the elephants, and then watch their feet because I just might pee from excitement! Just kidding… let’s hope that does not happen. Well that’s all from me! I hope you have a wonderful day!
Today was amazing!
We started off the day waking up at 5 in an “interesting” hostel. We ate a really good breakfast and headed off to the safari jeeps. During the 45 minute drive to the Ngorongoro crater, we were able to see the beginning of the sunrise. While we were waiting to get tickets into the crater we saw crazy baboons that jumped over cars and threatened to attack people. We had a beautiful drive up the mountain where we saw lush trees and fog that surrounded our jeep and the crater. We finally began our bumpy ride into the crater where we saw zebras first. We saw ostriches, weird birds, gazelles, jackals, hippos, lions mating, elephants, buffalos. Out in the distance we spotted what looked like a rock. It ended up being a sleeping endangered rhino. The park rangers woke it up and we all got amazing pictures of a species that is sadly going extinct. This slightly ugly yet beautiful creature is being hunted for its tusks. I felt extremely amazing to see an animal that might not be on this planet for much longer. We roamed around the park for a while longer and found lions that began to mate. They were closer up than the lions we saw before so we all got great shots. We headed back for a 4 hour car ride after a wonderful day.
– Jordan Clark
PS Hi mom!
Today was one of the greatest days of my life. I struggled to leave the warm covers of the hotel’s bed, but finally succeeded 15 minutes after my actual alarm went off. The delicious breakfast and tea definitely woke me up and prepared me for the busy day ahead. We jumped into our safari Jeeps and drove along the bumpy road, watching the sky slowly brighten. When we arrived to the opening of the park, we were met by baboons who caused quite the commotion when one jumped onto a jeep. After going uphill for around 20 minutes, we stopped to open the top of our jeep. This was when the real adventure began. Everyone in our jeep (the Trap Jeep) stood on top of the seats to peep our heads into the wild. We zoomed through the cold and foggy jungle, taking in the mesmerizing sights. I felt free and adventurous as I stuck my head out the window, the brisk air sweeping across my face. After we entered the crater, we were met by an abundant amount of animals. Zebras were grazing, wildebeests were wandering, and antelopes were frolicking. The scenery and animals were beautiful. At one point of the safari, we reached an area where around 10 jeeps were lined up. We wondered what everyone was looking at, and soon realized it was a standoff between 5 lions and one water buffalo (which the Trap Jeep decided to name Mark Buffalo). Our jeep guide told us that the lions could possibly attack Mark Buffalo, so we watched for 30 minutes. At one point, Mark Buffalo charged at the lions, scaring them off for a bit. In the end, Mark Buffalo made it out alive and ran away from the scene. We also saw an endangered rhino who was sleeping before it was woken up. It was amazing to see such a rare creature. Later, we witnessed a female and male lion lying together near a lake. Suddenly, the male lion walked over to the female lion. We had been informed that it was mating season, and we soon witnessed it first hand. Lunch took place by a hippo pond, and we soon ended our safari by driving out of the caldera back into the frigid jungle. The end of the adventure ended on a beautiful note when we watched from above as the crater disappear into the distance. I will never forget the feeling of “flying” through the grasslands. Wind (and dust) blew wildly in my face but I felt free and a part of nature. Though Tanzania may not be the most developed of countries, no other country could compare to the life-changing safari that Tanzania offered me today.
– Christine Tao
PS: shout out to my fam, love and miss you guys!
First of all, Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you had a day as wonderful as ours. So, since today is America’s birthday, we decided that it would be a fun idea to teach the kids a little bit about how our country began. To be honest, I am not sure they understood everything, but they did enjoy the huge map of the world my group drew across the whole black board. After giving the kids a cultural lesson, we finished painting all the blackboards and fixing all the desks. As we wrapped this up, the students joyfully sat with us waiting to walk us home, as they do every day. Later we had afternoon activities which included going to the market and touring a coffee plantation. For the market, we were given a shopping list and 10,000 shillings. As Americans in Africa, we had to use our bargaining skills so that we are not ripped off. For me, it was quite uncomfortable but my friends helped me out with the bargaining. At the coffee plantation, we went on a tour through the coffee bean trees as we learned about the history of African coffee and then went to a house to make our own coffee! It was very tasty. For our 4th of July celebration, the local staff made it really feel like home by making us burgers and fries! After dinner we roasted marshmallows around a campfire and made s’mores. I could not have asked for a better celebration!
p.s. Hi mom, dad and Henry, love and miss you guys … 10
July 5, 2016
Today consisted of our usual morning routine of teaching. Unlike the other days of service, we sanded down the walls of the special education dining room. The entire group was together during service as well. When we first started, everyone was a little unhappy to be sanding an entire room although no one said it aloud. As we got going though, everyone got in their groove, and we were able to get a sing along going. The songs varied from Boyfriend and Call Me Maybe to Hakuna Matata and The iCarly Theme Song. We got so loud at one point that some of the kids came in and started dancing along. It was cool to see how easy it is for everyone to come together here. Even though the kids had never heard the songs before and didn’t understand the lyrics, they were able to come in and openly dance with people they had never met. Once back at home base, we switched the roles of batik and cooking. Today was my turn to cook. My group peeled garlic, cut onions and carrots, made dough, and cooked chicken. The process was astounding to not only watch but be a part of. Not to mention talking to Chef Geoffrey is pretty entertaining, too. A lot of hidden talents were shown during the process. Leila’s ability to peel garlic in seconds and Bree’s ability to flip a stack of 4 chapattis were of the most impressive. No matter how great we were at a given task, the local staff was always able to come in and fix our little mistakes. It was nice to see how much work goes into making every meal we eat here and how quickly they are able to produce enough food for all of us. Every meal is prepared on site with fresh, local ingredients which was something I was previously over looking. We finished the night with a game that really opened up the group. A series of statements were read, and if you identified with the statement, you took a step in. It was something that showed how complex people are. It brought me back to the first few days when we discussed the single story. We often see this outer shell of a person and assume the rest, but there are so many layers deeper down that don’t always get shown to the rest of the group. It definitely made the room feel heavy at times because of how personal the questions were. What struck me most, however, was that never once was a person in the circle alone. There was never a statement that only a single person identified with. This brought me comfort because it showed that whatever problem a person has, they always have someone who can sympathize alongside them. By the end, we were all hugging each other. We were comforting those who usually aren’t as open and making sure that everyone realized how supportive this family will always be. It gave people an opportunity to score some free hugs too which is always a plus.
Today we woke up shivering in our beds, and quickly rushed to breakfast all bundled up and huddled together for warmth. After a delicious and nutritious meal, we scurried to the school with our lessons planned and our spirits high. However, instead of being greeted by the usual smiling faces of our loving students, we found that many were not in attendance because of the moon phases of Ramadan. Just as we are doing now to write this blog, we, Lucy and Mayson, came together and combined our classes to create one powerful class with equally powerful students. These students were so powerful in fact, that the eight teachers in the class were too much for their great skill. Lucy, our MVP sander, led a few to continue our handy work sanding the special ed classes, while Mayson dominated the teaching crew and taught a flawless lesson. Then we all reconvened for a quick peanut butter sandwich pick-me-up and a break with the students (no black mambas today luckily) then continued our labor until our shoulders and hands were sore and our faces were covered in paint dust. We skipped home [clammy] hand in [clammy] hand and bid a sweet goodbye to our children.
Then after gobbling down a great lasagna lunch, we set up for our talk about HIV/AIDS. Kati’s lesson was both inspiring and engaging and we all ended our talk informed and excited for the next activity – a panel of locals who have been living with HIV for years. They were very open to all of our questions and it was a very eye-opening discussion that shattered our single-storied perspectives.
To finish off the day we had a hunger banquet. For those of you who are not familiar with this it is an activity in which you draw a card, which places you in the upper, middle, or lower class. You eat a meal that corresponds with your economic class level, a feast, beans and rice, or ugali respectively. Mayson ate with the rich and was served scrumptious foods. Lucy ate as a middle class civilian. The poor had a unique experience and reflected on the more serious aspects of their meal. Then we had a discussion about the overall experience. Thankfully, the leaders were just playing and they served us dinner… yum, yum, yum in my tum. We went to bed full and cozy.
Also, happy birthday Ma! Love you and can’t wait to snuggle when I get home! Love to all <3
-Mayson & Lucy
The sweet aroma of cinnamon rolls motivated us to rise from our beds for a scrumptious meal completed with omelettes and toast. With high sprits and full bellies the group headed off to school for our very last day. The school day was jam packed with fun learning games that encompassed all of the lessons taught in the previous two weeks. After a recess of hair braiding and hand games we were relieved of our physical labor so we could have a goodbye celebration. Before we parted ways we danced the cupid shuffle with the kids, played the cup song (look out we will be starring in Pitch Perfect 3: Rise of the Tanzanian Acapellas), and sang Jambo in perfect harmony. Hand in hand with the children we sorrowfully walked home at a slow pace to bask in every last moment with the children. After a tearful and bitter farewell we returned to the base for a pasta lunch. We then loaded up the bus to go exchange money before the Maasai Market. At the market we bought souvenirs for family members and friends (get excited, the items are pretty cool!). The market was overwhelming and exhilerating with wood carvings, t-shirts, shoes, and jewlery. We harnessed our bargaining skills to get the best “rafiki” price. Once we boarded the bus Bean shared the unfortunate discovery that she bought two left tire shoes in different sizes. Don’t fret Eric and Susan, with the help of Lodrick she will be returning to the market to buy a proper pair of tire shoes. The shoes were quite popular as Lucy and Gillian bought a pair that she is content with. We then went to the gelato place to get some delicious treats and some highly coveted wi-fi. On the bus we had an impromptu sing along session to throwback songs. We returned home to a dinner of mashed potatoes and stew. The day ended with a documentary about European tourism in Papau New Guinea. The group is appreciating each moment a bit more with each other as the time on the trip winds down. We have much more to come so stay tuned. All in all it was a successful day here in Arusha.