Lasting Impressions

I’m not really sure how to sum up the things I have learned into a short paragraph…or a long paragraph for that matter. You never quite realize that you’ve done so much until you look back on it…and we’ve certainly accomplished a lot here in Tanzania. So here’s my attempt to condense the important parts of this safari we’ve been on for a month. 

1. Pole Pole. Life is too fast. We are always running from one place to another. Running to the grocery store last minute. Running to class. Running to that thing we forgot last minute because the other thing distracted us from it. Slow down. Pole Pole. Life will happen whether you are trying to keep up with it or not. It doesn’t need us to keep up with it. It just needs us to enjoy the ride. In the Serengeti we lost track of time. Waiting. Sitting. Waiting. Driving. Waiting. Taking pictures. More waiting and more waiting. And you know what made it an incredible experience? The fact that we didn’t care whether we were late for dinner. Whether we forgot to call that person that we said we would call and never did. Whether we missed that last tweet from our friend, which in the grand scheme of things, has zero impact on our lives. We just waited. We waited for an elephant to slowly cross the road, because he has nothing important to do except take a leisurely stroll through some tall grass and eat. We waited to see a pride of lions do…nothing…and it was awesome. Tanzanians are not trying to rush through life. They enjoy it. They enjoy the little fleeting moments more than anyone I have ever met. And you know what? They’re happy…with their limited possessions…they’re truly happy. 

2. Hakuna Matata. Yes. The most cliche words in Swahili…thank you “Lion King”. But it’s true. No worries. You’re teaching in the classroom and your lesson plan goes down the toilet in the first ten minutes because you had everything prepared and then all of a sudden BAM! You’re shooting from the hip using any technique possible to get your students to understand…none of which are on your freshly typed, brand new, been working on it for 2 days, lesson plan. At the end of the day, maybe none of your students understand the material you wanted them to understand. But maybe they remember a funny joke. An inspiring quote. Or they notice that you’re exhausted from a long week and you still wake up the next morning to do the thing you love. In the end, they will learn something…maybe a small something…maybe a large something. But Hakuna Matata, something is better than nothing. 

3. Don’t work too much. During this trip, we had a week of teaching in a classroom where maybe half of the students understood us. Where we had to deal with students not having textbooks because they spent their money getting food for their family. It’s exhausting work. But if you don’t live a little and go on a few adventures you’ll end up hating your work. Take a day or two to relax, by yourself or with friends. Don’t do any work, don’t think about work, just don’t do it. Because if you never go on any adventures…you’ll never have anything exciting to talk about on Monday when you get back to the classroom. And let’s be honest…Mondays suck. 

I was told by a friend before I came on this safari, that it would change me. I wouldn’t be the same person when I got back home. And that scared me. I’m not scared anymore though. I’m ready to go home and accept that I have been through an incredible experience and it has changed me into a better teacher, a better friend, and a better man. This experience just simply makes you better. And that’s nothing to be afraid of. 



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