Apologies for the slight delay in blogging. It’s been a whirlwind few days here at the GLA Moshi home base.
Our final days were spent time saying goodbye to the children at the Himo-Korona School as well as our local host families here in Rau Village.
On our very last full day together we hiked up to a pair of waterfalls in the foothills of Mt Kilimanjaro, and that evening had a bonfire and a hilarious talent show back at home. We also spent time reflecting on our time together here in Tanzania and shared with one another the tremendous things we’ve seen, done and learned together. Everyone agreed that this has been the best three weeks of their life and that they feel like they’ve learned a lot about themselves and about the world around them.
Many people shared how they’re seeing the world very differently after this experience and that they’re really looking forward to sharing their stories and applying their experiences to their lives at home.
After our tearful goodbyes at the airport, the program staff spent the evening watching the final World Cup game on a giant outdoor tv screen in Moshi. For us, it was a bittersweet farewell. We are sad to see you go, but we’re really stoked to hear all your stories and share in your triumphs as you venture forth to change the world. We are confident that you’ll be great leaders and we feel proud and privileged to have shared a small part of your journey.
We wish you all the best and hope you’ll keep in touch. We love you guys.
–the entire Moshi team
We’re Coming Home
All students are set to depart and head home from Tanzania!
Beginning Our Last Days
Our day began like every other: we taught the kids and had 40 minutes of play time followed by an hour of tree planting. We planted 75 trees and carried what seemed like thousands of buckets of water today. The children at the school were kind enough to help with the heavy loads.
After another delicious lunch, half of us went to visit Tuleeni orphanage and half stayed home to help with dinner.
The orphanage is a small, but welcoming atmosphere. We had a brief tour of the rooms and then gathered to play games. The kids taught us some fun ones and we returned the favor with games of our own. We spent time playing and talking with the enthusiastic and friendly kids and then they put on an amazing acrobatic act for us. It blew our minds how skillful they were without any coaching. We chatted with the caretakers of the orphanage until it was time to head home to a great dinner prepared by the other half of our group.
After some free time, we were treated to a surprise from Kath’s group. They presented us with a variety of cookies to dip into a homemade, gluten-free, vegan chocolate fondue! The chocolate feast quickly turned into a high-energy dance party until it was time for out last leadership workshop. Shan presented ideas of how we can carry our GLA experience forward with us over the years. This lead to a discussion lead by Kath to help us take action and start the process of “being the change.”
We ended the evening with shout-outs and we’re all excited to see what our last days in Tanzania will bring.
–Lena W. & Kaylee L.
Today, as usual, we went to the Himo-Korona school for our service project. After teaching we continued digging holes along the fence line to guard the playground and to keep the children safe. Tomorrow we will continue planting trees in the holes that we’ve been working so hard to complete.
After returning home to another of Mama Digna’s delicious lunches of soup and beans, we ventured over to the kitchen to learn how to prepare a traditional Tanzanian meal for tonight’s dinner.
We split into small groups to focus on the extremely challenging tasks that we have (until now) taken for granted. Peeling tomatoes, peeling garlic cloves, slicing fruits and vegetables, crying into the chopped onions, and most tediously, sorting rice. After finally completing the preparation, we all sat down to our creation of tasty pilau and a selection of fresh sliced fruits and vegetables.
Once we were completely stuffed with rice, beef and veggies, we scurried out to the garden where Clarissa’s mentor group had set us up with a challenge: we were going to levitate!
Four chairs were mysteriously set up in the center of the lawn, which put us all a little on edge. We were put into groups of four. We sat in a chair and leaned back into someone else’s lap while someone else leaned their shoulders into our lap. After a quick countdown, *abracadabra* the chairs were yanked out from under us and we were left carrying each other’s weight through the awesome power of teamwork!
After the short and fun activity, we got together again as a group to tune into Shan’s brilliant 3rd Leadership workshop. In it, we learned that everyday leaders can be powerful at making a difference in a person’s life. The end the day, we shared with out loud an individual from our GLA group who has impacted us in a positive manner. After many tears of joy and even more hugs, we settled in for the night.
We hope everyone at home is having as wonderful a time as we are. We can’t wait to see you all again very soon!
–Lauren W. & Noah M.
We made amazing progress working at the school today. Every GLA student was involved and didn’t stop digging until all the work was done. We are digging holes to plant more than 90 shade trees for the children.
After another amazing lunch (as usual), we visited a local coffee plantation. From roasting to grinding, we were able to take part in the whole process of making fresh-ground coffee. We finished our visit with a freshly brewed cup of organic, shade grown Tanzanian coffee. It was delicious.
Before leaving for home, we joined the women at the farm in a lively round of traditional Chagga dances and songs. After dinner we watched some Ted Talks and learned about Global Development.
Hopefully the next few days will be filled with as much fun as today!
–Olivia F. and Chloe VT.
Change of Plans
This morning we woke up well and left for school. At school, the doors were locked and there were almost no kids. It was a national holiday. On facing this challenge, the whole group stepped and started working on our service project. We worked extra hard to make up for the lack of students and we really got a lot done.
After lunch we went to the park. About a third of us played soccer while the rest chilled or took a walk. For dinner, we had an amazing bbq with lots of side dishes, vegetables and fruit. Then we did an activity about judging and privilege. After an eventful day, we were ready for bed. So, we went to bed!
–Calvin C. & Alanna M.
Our weekend started on Saturday with an extra hour of sleep. We prepared for the Maasai weekend in the morning, after spending time in our mentor groups.
We loaded up the buses at noon and headed to Arusha, where we stopped and a few people picked up Alpha burgers. Later on in the ride, an intense game of tag began.
When we arrived at the Maasai boma, we were showered with our very own shuka and Maasai bracelet. Immediately afterward we joined their dance battle. We were welcomed quickly and the people loved watching us embarrass ourselves dancing. I briefly got some of the Maasai to chant, “Brazil!” with me.
Soon after, we witnessed two goats being sacrificed. That night, we ate the goats for our dinner, which was delicious. We danced around the campfire for hours with the warriors then slept in our tents.
Sunday morning we had the option of a ‘warrior walk’ or a ‘botanic walk.’ On the warrior walk, we stopped at a very large baobab tree to learn how to build fire and to throw a Maasai spear. The botanic walk learned about the local trees and plants, and visited and played with children at the village school. The walks were amazing and we Maasai put on a great lunch for us when we returned.
We packed up, said our goodbyes and started our trip home. On the way we stopped at a small craft market for souvenirs and of course we stopped again for Alpha burgers. It was a very fun weekend that we will all remember for a long time.
–Pedro W. & Izzy F.
Haikus on the Holiday
-Haikus by Frances Y. & Lilly E.
Wake up: six thirty
Full up our water bottles
Head off to the school
The kids say hello
We start to teach our lesson
Then we get to play
Our hair gets braided
Kids do back flips over rocks
They make us happy
We planted small trees
In the furrow that we dug
It was exhausting
After, we split up
We went to a clothes market
The clothes were all used
The other half stayed
And they made batik paintings
They were pretty
Happy July Fourth
Sari almost lost her flag
We danced all night long
(I love you Mommy, Daddy, Tristan, Linnea, Tally and serious… xoxo Love Lilly)
A Great Day at School
We had a great day at school today. The kids are learning so much and we can see how much their English has improved. We love seeing their smiling faces and enthusiasm, and they love playing outside and teaching us new games.
We have made a lot of progress on the fence and will begin planting trees soon. A crowd of little kids gathered to watch as we worked and were clearly very interested in us ‘wazungu’ (foreigners).
After lunch we had a guest speaker come to teach us about the education system in Tanzania and he was absolutely fascinating. He
talked about problems with teen pregnancy, dropout rates and how Tanzania has worked to solve these problems. He answered our many questions and we loved spending time with him.
We spent part of our afternoon at a park nearby and played some team building games. We have become close as a group and work really well together.
We finished our long day with a viewing of the film, “Blood Diamond.” It was absolutely shocking to see how the diamonds in our jewelry come from a process that kills so many. It made the problem much more real and impacted us a lot.
Overall a great day. Team Leaders, out!
–Anna R. & Squeaky W.
Hello GLA Tanzania community!
Today was fairly relaxed, but nevertheless it proved to be another eye-opening day. We continued to strengthen our relationships with all the kids at the Himo + Korona school by both teaching and learning from them.
In the afternoon we got to interact with locals at the market, which taught us more about the culture outside of our program. We decided to format the rest of today’s blog as a series of tweets.
Rain = indoor recess at the school = free hair braiding and many laughs #educationislife
No digging today #rainraingoaway #liftingyamsinstead
We miss Chris #comebacksoon #plz
Walking through an insanely crowded market #frontpacks #notbackpacks
Ladies at the market tried to charge Calvin’s group too much #aintnobodygottimeforthat
$20 got us more than enough food to feed us all including Godwin #foodforthought
Shoutout to the Internet for making our little GLA family Facebook official #tanzania4ever
Shoutout to Squeaky and Anna for showing awesome leadership #goodluck #futureLOTD
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” #JohnLennon #QuoteOfTheDay
Such an amazing day
Time to Bond
Hi! It’s Mia and Barak. Today, contrary to most days, was a day to unwind and bond.
We started off in our normal routine with the first half of the day spent volunteering at the school. However, as lunch ended, we were able to relax and socialize with our friends. Many of the girls and even one of the guys had their hair professionally braided while we waited for the seamstress to deliver all of our newly made Tanzanian clothes.
We spent the rest of the evening doing yoga, walking through the village and some went to watch the World Cup game with locals while others had an impromptu dance party at home.
It’s clear that we all are becoming more comfortable with each other and we can be great friends. In all it was a fantastic day marking a milestone in our developing friendships.
–Mia N. & Barak S.
Sometimes I still forget how far away from home I am. When I looked at the clear sky just the other night I noticed that among the various bright stars the beginning of a crescent moon shone. The flipped position of the moon forming a “happy face” was a clear reminder to me of the physical distance that I am away from home. When you grow up you take in your surroundings as the true reality without consciously realizing it, or take in your life and surroundings as what the world is like. This trip to Tanzania is my first every traveling to another culture. I was sure before arriving that the culture shock would be astonishing. It is true that the culture here is different. From the food to the clothing, Moshi is nothing like Seattle. However, the warmhearted welcome of the Tanzanian people blocked the cultural shock and instead replaced it with a sense of home and Karibu (welcome). All the friendly locals wish to welcome us and, as Mama Simba says, deep down in our hearts we all have a bit of home in Africa.
In the United States there is a subtle yet defined barrier that exists between genders. These outdated stereotypes infiltrate our society in insidious ways that must be reversed. Scarily, this same sentiment of gender inequality exists in a much stronger sense throughout Tanzanian culture.
The strategic placement of three medium-sized rocks is hopefully catalyzing change to alleviate gender stereotyping in Tanzanian culture in the future. How could four rocks do that? Well today, I, along with my peers, arranged an all girls soccer team that plays together during recess. You could see the look of doubt and astonishment across the faces of the young boys that attend the school (sadly that wasn’t surprising.)
Up until this point the girls would play peacefully together singing nursery rhymes and keeping to themselves as the boys barreled past them to pass a ball or receive one from a teammate.
Although the placement of the rocks, two on each side of the playground to emulate a soccer goal, was a miniscule step in outlining the power of being female in an ever-adapting society, it was an important one.
Seventeen-years-old and I’m on an African safari with my best friends that I only met a couple of days ago. The group has bonded so much this weekend, it’s crazy.
Words cannot describe the beauty and excitement of Tarangire and Ngorongoro. One moment we are in the middle of the savannah and the next we turn a corner and we’re in a tropical oasis with elephants picking at the vines.
There is no feeling in the world like riding through the Ngorongoro Crater with the top down, hair blowing in the wind, surrounded by nature (and zebras… lots of zebras.) We saw giraffe, elephants, lions, rhino, hippo, gazelle, wildebeest, cheetah, warthogs, and much more, all up close and personal.
The hotel we spent the night in, just outside the Ngorongoro entrance gate, was beyond hospitable. The safari guides were very knowledgeable, and so funny and easy to talk to that it was hard to say goodbye.
Speaking of goodbyes, we’ve grown quite close to the local staff and it was really hard being away from them all weekend. Agape is like a second Mom who we can joke with and lean on (not that I don’t joke with and lean on my own Mom,) and Godwin, Chris and Zenus are like fun older brothers who smile and dance pretty much all the time.
I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I’m having, how good the food is (I’m a picky eater,) and how much I love Africa.
Good night and Baadaye, blog readers. J
(ps: I love you Mom & Dad!)
Tarangire National Park
This weekend we gained a unique insight into an especially exotic part of Africa- the wildlife. We spent the entire weekend driving on winding, bumpy dirt roads.
We spent Saturday in Tarangire National Park, about two hours from the city of Arusha and Sunday in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a little farther away, at the edge of the vast Serengeti.
Tarangire is famous for it’s massive, ancient baobab and thorny acacia trees. We saw dozens of elephants there, some within a few feet of our vehicles.
Ngorongoro is a steep-walled caldera that remains from when a volcano erupted and collapsed into itself millions of years ago. The lush, fertile grass that lines the crater floor is bursting with a diverse spectacle of wildlife. Wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, warthog and buffalo grazed in the hot sun, while nearby, a nearly invisible cheetah stalked through the tall grass and huge hippos soaked in ponds of water. The sights were simply endless.
Among the most exciting sightings were a group of four rhinos (out of an estimated total of less than 10 remaining in the crater); a cheetah (one of only three in the crater); a mother lioness (with two cubs); and an exceptionally large, elderly male elephant. Most of these animals sat right beside the roads and some even walked right in our path, entirely unfazed by our vehicles.
In some ways our excursion revealed the wildlife as highly symbolic of Tanzania and Africa. Whether it was the towering, powerful elephants tenderly caring for their young, or a majestic, prideful lioness standing vigilantly over her cubs, a powerful sense of family and community pervaded the experience.
This weekend we, without a doubt, gained a greater understanding of Tanzanian culture and nature, and we definitely lived out the ‘Adventure’ in GLA.
Service & Fun!
Wow. We woke up bright and early at the ripe hour of 6:00 am—what a way to start our fourth day. Time has been going by so fast here at Rau Village, it almost seems like we’re in a whole other world.
After a delicious Tanzanian French Toast breakfast, we trekked down to school for our second day of teaching. Today was even more rewarding than yesterday. The kid’s faces lit up with joy as we entered the classroom and their enthusiasm only increased throughout the day. We reviewed and continued yesterday’s lesson before proceeding outside. Boy, was it hot today! We swung our pick axes and dug the dirt and managed to accomplish a massive amount of work in only a few short hours.
A couple of hours after arriving, we said our goodbyes to the kids and traveled back home for a delicious lunch of soup, beans, salad and fruit—by far the tastiest meal of the trip so far. Immediately after lunch we had a short discussion about our upcoming safari weekend, then we split up the group for our afternoon activities: half went to town to visit a market and use the Internet café and the other half stayed at home and learned to do batik art. The painting technique consists of wax and dyes and our work turned out great.
Dinner was another great meal, consisting of spaghetti and meat sauce, which we gobbled up quickly. We finished our day with a personality exercise where we learned about our inner self by comparing our own traits to safari animals and then turned the activity into a productive group discussion. Before bed we watched a short documentary film on the Serengeti to learn more about the wildlife of East Africa.
We are all very excited for safari weekend and can’t wait to see how the rest of the trip unfolds. That’s all for today.
We began our day as usual at 6:00 am with loud, upbeat music and fresh bananas. The nervous energy from our first day of teaching had dissipated and we settled into our new roles with ease.
The children at the school welcomed us warmly as usual with big smiles and eyes eager to learn. We continued to teach sequence words they seemed to have a much firmer grasp on it they did the previous day. My teaching group was also more comfortable in front of the class of 24 adorable students.
While we continued to dig the trenches for our trees, I noticed that we’re facing a problem. Our labor force is far greater than the amount of work that presently needs to be done, but we don’t have an efficient system to divide the labor amongst us. Greg, my co-leader, and I tried to implement a rotating system of work-stations that would allow everyone to get a chance to work, but with no success. This is when I realized that being a leader is no easy task.
A wonderful silver lining followed the bumps in the road, however. I led a reflection session on the bus ride back to the home base and we got some brilliant ideas and solutions flowing. It was heartwarming to see how willing people were to offer up successful strategies, for both digging the trench and for teaching in the classroom.
Later on in the day, after a hearty lunch and a short preview of what we’ll experience on our safari weekend, I headed to town with half of our group. We exchanged money and had our first Internet access in days, enjoying delicious milkshakes from the café.
After dinner we filled out a questionnaire that would tell us what animal represents our personality type. I am a ‘buffalo:’ outspoken and determined, according to the quiz. Although to describe it the quiz seems like nothing more than a fun activity, I think, for many of us, it made us think about who we are as individuals and how we fit into the group. Despite our differences, one thing we can all agree on is that it takes a variety of personalities to form a strong group and that’s what we have here at GLA Tanzania!
Two Different Perspectives
We were up today before the sun in an attempt to get to school on time for our first day of teaching. Nonetheless, after taking our time enjoying the delicious breakfast that Mama Digna and the other ladies made for us – fresh bananas with peanut butter and a fried muffin-type food called ‘andazi’ – and a short Swahili lesson from Agape, we fell a little behind schedule. Fortunately, the town was still bustling as we drove on through.
Motorcycles loaded with people and produce sped past the colorful shops, open and teeming with customers, intermixed with shepherds tending their goats and many, many waving children, beautifully illustrates the vibrant, choreographed pandemonium of Tanzanian city life.
Only a few minutes outside of town is a sprawling savannah with a view of the mountains and the beauty of an unaltered landscape that is truly breathtaking. Chriss taught me a word that describes my feelings for the this scene—‘mbinguni’—which means ‘paradise.’
After several minutes driving through mbinguni, we arrived at the Himo-Korona school. The children must have been able to smell us from a mile away, because they ran to meet the buses from that distance. Their eagerness and enthusiasm followed them from the streets to the classroom, where they gobbled up the relative pronoun lesson we taught them like candy. After class, some of the girls braided my hair with salon-level precision.
We also started re-planting the brush barrier that separates the school from the road, which was particularly memorable because we were surprised by a host of salamanders that scared us westerners out of our skin!
We returned home to another delicious meal, a guest speaker full of information about Tanzania (to feed our curiosity), and a long performance by a traditional drumming and dance group. We all got our East African culture fix for sure.
After a long day of adventuring through the Tanzanian countryside, primary school academics and our own minds, we’re all ready to roll into bed and sleep until our next adventure tomorrow morning.
Mambo, everyone! Mambo means ‘Hi’ by the way.
Today was filled with many firsts. One amazing first was teaching at the Himo-Korona Primary School. We taught Standard 5 English, where the lesson consisted of tenses and sequences. The children all retain the lessons so well. As soon as we wrote stuff on the board, the quickly wrote it down.
The Tanzanian spirit really shines through for me when we had a drum and dance lesson. We have already been incredibly immersed into this culture, but we haven’t experienced traditional dance or rituals right in front of us, so this was a spectacular first.
But the biggest first of today would have to be being chosen to be leader of the day with Allegra. Being leader of the day made me challenge myself to make announcements and be aware of my group and really step up. Since I was leader of the day, I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with our guest speaker, Mr. Chalamila, and share lunch with him before his presentation. We talked about our lives and really built a connection. He is a teacher and I told him how I want to be a teacher and I explained how being a teacher in America doesn’t pay well. After I told him, he smiled and said, “You will do a great may things because you care about your call to be a teacher more than the money—you spread the light.” This touched my heart in a way that I never would’ve thought could affect me.
All the firsts today, like eating Tanzanian guacamole, sharing laughs, seeing African dancing (with live snakes!), and being leader of the day made me realize how much of an impact you can make by being a real leader. I cannot wait for the many adventures to come.
“Peace first, then life in Tanzania.” –Moses Chalamila
First View of the Big Mountain
This morning we visited the Himo-Korona primary school, where we’ll be doing our service project. Everyone was so excited and curious when we arrived. We spoke with the teachers and played and sang songs with the children. We also got our first view of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Later in the day we visited the market and purchased beautiful colorful fabrics. We met a seamstress at the GLA compound who measured us for shirts, skirts, dresses and purses. After dinner we had our first Leadership workshop and worked on lesson plans. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to our first volunteer day at the school.
Tanzania so far has been a place of wonder and beauty, with amazing landscapes, full of amazing people, with a unique and friendly culture.
– Jill R. & Austin H.
After long journeys from around the globe, our group of eager young participants have arrived safely at the Moshi home base where our local team and our international mentors greeted and helped everyone get settled into their new home for the next 21 days.
All students have arrived in Tanzania safe and sound! Their group photo will be coming tomorrow! Stay tuned for updates!