Final/Lasting Impressions

As I reflect back on this month, I can’t put my finger on one thing that I will take away because there was so many wonderful experiences. I just would like to start by saying that all of us students bonded so well together and still at the end of this month, we are all great friends. Everyone gets along and we are all so close. These friendships that I made on this trip are definitely forever friends. My professor, Lisa, is such a great leader and I couldn’t image this trip without her. She helped to inspire me to do my best everyday and also to push me to be the best teacher I can be. It saddens me to leave this beautiful place called Tanzania, but all of the memories are forever.

Yesterday was the last day at school and it was the saddest part of the trip. I didn’t want to say goodbye to my students, I just wanted to say see you later. We were able to play with the students all morning and then around 1pm, the teachers had us come into a classroom where there was a table and chairs set up for all of us elementary teachers to sit in. All of the teachers at Lutheran Primary were sitting in this classroom smiling at us. They started with a prayer and then the headmaster gave a speech. He talked about how we have helped the teachers and how they have helped us. He thanked us for being so kind and loving to the children and he didn’t want us to leave. They then blessed us with a song from the bible. It was so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. They asked us to sing them a Christian song so the only song we could think of at the top of our heads was “Jesus Loves Me”. We sang that to them and they blessed us again with another prayer. We were told to stand up, close our eyes and wait until we received a gift to open our eyes. We all received different colored wraps that go around our waist. It is such a beautiful gift that they gave us! They then presented us with soda, a meat pocket, and a muffin. We all talked and for a while and then said our goodbyes. I am really going to remember this moment because of the fact that all of the teachers were there thanking us and blessing us. I was so sad to leave them but Rehma, my math teacher, told me that she will come to America one day. After saying goodbye to the teachers, we said goodbye to the students. I cried and cried leaving those students but I know that I made a good impression on them and they will always remember that. I hugged them and we all sang the Lutheran Tetra School Song and waved goodbye.

I am deeply going to miss my math teacher at Lutheran named Rehma. I was able to get really close to her and become great friends. I told her about my life and she told me about hers, I learned about her culture and she learned about mine, and sharing ideas in teaching will always stay with me and I will never forget that. Rehma is so full of life and believes that God has the right path for her and that path is to become a business woman. She went back to school to get her certificate to be in business. She told me that when she makes enough money, she is going to come to America to see me. I just can’t wait for that moment to happen!! 🙂 My teacher taught me to be more confident in my teaching, she taught me to always believe that God has a plan for you, and to always be happy about life. My nickname at school was Nashiva, which means happy in Maasai. They brought out the best in me and I will never change who I am.

I am also going to miss the town people and how their motto is “hamna shida” which means no worries or no problem. Everyone is so happy with what they have even if they don’t have much. I can see how happy people are here and they just aren’t consumed in money. They do need money and sell things for money, but it isn’t like America because there is the whole “no worries” motto. I would love to live my life the way these people do. I want to believe that whatever happens is going to be okay because God had that plan for us and not to worry. This town was great for me to see in terms of culture and the way of life. It is sad and different when you think about how some of these people live, but they are so happy!

I am going to take back all of my experiences and use them in America to teach my students the best way I can and to live my life in happiness all the time. I am so sad to leave Africa but I know I will be back here. I grew so close to these students and my teachers that I just can’t live my life never seeing them again. Africa is a magical place and it will have a huge place in my heart. As I leave Africa today, I am going to miss the smells, the Dala Dalas, the town people, the markets, the schools, the children, the orphanage, the food, and the great weekend excursions. I will always remember when I first was thinking about this trip and how I almost didn’t come. I can’t believe that I am here and I am so proud of myself for doing this. I believe that I am going back to America with a different attitude and a different outlook on life. I love this place and as they say in Swahili, tutaonana, Africa….see you later, Africa! 🙂

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The Climb on Kilimanjaro

I could not have been more excited to hear that we were going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro last Wednesday. My professor told us that we would be climbing to the Mandara Hut that is at 9000 feet. So on Wednesday morning, we packed up the coaster and drove to the mountain! We were getting concerned along the way because there were a lot of dark clouds and it was hard to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. I was getting more and more excited for this hike.

We get to the gate and this time we actually got out and went to register! We all signed the book saying that we were going to climb and waited at the entrance for everyone to sign in. I started to walk through the entrance with a huge smile on my face thinking that I am actually on Mt. Kilimanjaro about to hike half way up. I started hiking at a semi fast pace so I slowed down and hiked most of the climb by myself.

The trail that we hiked was all rainforest. It was such a beautiful environment to be hiking in and I just took it all in. I loved all the branches with moss on them that were hanging down from the trees. I could hear beautiful birds chirping and waterfalls flowing. It was just such a peaceful hike to think and reflect on the trip. The only time it wasn’t peaceful was towards the middle of the hike when it was getting higher and the hills were getting steeper to climb up. I had to mentally prepare myself for every incline because of how steep it was. It was really hard for be but I took my time and succeeded. I made it to the Mandara Hut and just cried. I was so exhausted but so proud of myself for making it. I just can’t believe that I got to climb half way up Mt. Kilimanjaro. I really would like to climb the whole mountain one day. 🙂


Weekend at Mulala

This past weekend was our last excursion in Africa. To think about this was a really hard feeling because I didn’t want to leave in a week. Leaving for this trip on the 25th made me realize how short a month actually is and how much more time I wanted to spend in Tanzania. I love everything about this country and am so thankful for all of these wonderful trips on the weekends to explore more of the country.
Mulala was a beautiful place to be this weekend with breathtaking views of Mt. Kilimanjaro on one side and Mt. Meru on the other. On Saturday, we went on a walking safari up this huge hill. We first came across a herd of buffalo that was blocking our path to walk. Our guide that was with us carried a gun just in case something were to happen but she never had to use it. She told us that she would shoot it in the air to scare the animals if they got too close. As we walked past the buffalo, they just stared and watched us. The view of Kilimanjaro was so clear that day that we got a great view. We continued to walk and we first reached a waterfall. This one didn’t have a place to swim but it was still super cool seeing the rocks and the opening to where the waterfall was. The entire way walking was on either little paths or grass. We had to dodge branches, plants, and tons of animal poop. On the way up, we did see a couple monkeys and a few people saw a snake. Thank goodness I didn’t see that snake!! We hiked a total of about 3 hours to reach the top of this hill and look out at the spectacular view. We could see for miles and miles of different towns. The only thing about going up is that you must come down. So we walked down on an all rock road, which was super hard to do without falling! We came across a tree with a huge hole in it that we could walk through. It is called The Fig Tree Arch. We quickly stopped to take a picture because we quickly realized that the whole ground was covered in red ants under that tree. Those little guys really bite! We then made it back to where we started and ate lunch at a little picnic area. We loaded up the safari vehicles and took a drive in Arusha National Park. It was so lush and dense and just very different from what we have seen so far. We saw some more baboons, a giraffe, buffalo, flamingos, and cranes. In Arusha National Park, there are a lot of little lakes that we drove by. Our driver was telling us that they are salt water but not very salty because they can control the amount of salt that goes in there. I am not too sure what that means but nevertheless, it was still beautiful. We then headed to our destination of Mama Ana’s house.
We were staying at Mama Ana’s house who lived in a home in Mulala. She is a Maasai woman and she showed us and taught us a lot about the Maasai. When we got there, they had tents set up for us to sleep in. These tents reminded me of little igloos because there was just enough room to sleep and not sit up. They were very snug but it worked! We put our stuff in our tents and they had prepared a wonderful dinner for us. It was so delicious! There were about 6-8 dishes of food for us. I tried all of the dishes and loved them all. Everything was made right out back behind their house on a few different fires. After our meal, we were welcomed to a bonfire that they made for us. We sat around the fire talking about the Maasai traditions and I learned a lot about their culture. We also listened to our safari driver and his first time ever driving through the Serengeti getting lost! It was such a great night and the moon that night was unbelievable. It as a burnt orange color that just filled the sky. It took my breath away looking at it and knowing where I was at that moment. Just taking a moment to appreciate the little things, makes me feel so good about where I am.
The next morning they had coffee, fried plantains, and a day full of activities for us.
After breakfast, we were able to all wear kanga’s. They wrapped us in them and we all got into a circle and danced while they sang. It was so much fun!! We then went on a hike that took about 2-2.5 hours and along the way, we learned about different plants that were used as medicine. There were so many plants that he pulled that they used to help themselves either get over diarrhea, a head ache, body aches, stomach aches, and much more. I was so surprised at how many there were and how they knew what plants did what. They mostly would smash up the plant leaves and mix it with water and then drink it. We kept walking and walked up a hill where there was a “natural fan” of wind coming up from below. It was such a cool feeling looking out how far we were and seeing many cities. We weren’t able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro because she was “being a shy lady” that day. The hike then continued to another view point to see a lake that was pretty big. We turned back around to walk back and there were so many kids that had come out of their homes to see us. We were giving high-fives and lots of smiles to these precious kids. They showed me how to make a whistle out of a big leave from elephant grass. It was a good hike!
We reached Mama Ana’s house and had lunch which was also delicious. She and a few other members that were there at her house welcomed us for lunch with a lovely song and dance. After lunch, we learned about bee hives and what they are made of. They cut a log in half and hallow it out and leave a little a hole where the bees can get in and out. They put the two halves together by using a glue. They opened one for us and we were able to try the honey straight from the hive! It was really bitter at first but the after taste was really sweet. These bees in the hive where no sting bees and this honey is more expensive than the sting bees.
After this, we then were able to see coffee trees that were on their land. We got to cook and grind coffee. It was so fun and interesting to learn how they make coffee. They are only able to pick the coffee beans when they are a red color. You then take off the outer skin and run the beans through a machine that takes off the slippery part of the bean. You then have to let the bean sit for 3 days and then take off another shell. After this, you roast the beans over a fire for about 15 minutes and they are ready for grinding. We got to try a roasted bean and it was the best coffee bean I have ever tasted! We then tried grinding the coffee by pounding the beans in a bowl. The entire time we were making coffee, Mama Ana and others were singing and dancing! She is such an active lady who is about 4 foot tall. She is the most precious little lady ever! She then let us try carrying bananas on our heads! We only carries about 8 on our head and those were heavy! I can’t imagine trying to carry a whole bundle of bananas.
That was all of the activities they had for us and we left to go back to The Outpost. This weekend was definitely a challenge because of the safari hike on Saturday, but we kept telling ourselves that this was prep for hiking Kilimanjaro tomorrow! I loved staying at Mama Ana’s house and seeing how she lives. All of the Maasai culture lessons were fabulous to learn about. This weekend really made me appreciate the life the people who live in Mulala. They do very well for what they have and they appreciate everything they have as well. Everything is hamna shida; no worries. I am thankful for this weekend trip because it was so much different than the other weekends.


School Moments

Monday the 20th I was prepared to teach my students find the missing number for addition and subtraction. I was also going to try something that my students have never done before. I wanted to try and give students a word problem dealing with finding the missing the number. I was prepared for students to not understand because I knew this would be way out of their box. I gave them this problem: “I have 8 pencils. There are 12 people in the class. How many more pencils do I need?” I wanted students to tell me that 8 + a number =12. I had students come up to the front of the class and actually hold the pencils in the math problem. We left an empty space between the 8 and the 12 because we needed another number there. It was really hard for them to grasp the concept of counting up. They only know to “cut” or take away. They always use sticks to either add or subtract. So I wanted to really try and get them to count up instead of “cutting sticks”. They did struggle with this but I am so glad that I did this problem with them so they could see something different.

Tuesday and Wednesday we did the same thing with find the missing number but I just gave them problems instead of another word problem. They did really well and I am so glad that I concentrated on find the missing number with subtraction because that is what they have the most trouble with.

Also on Wednesday, I tried a very sweet food at tea time that my teacher brought me. It is called visheti. It is almost like a small donut that is covered in sugar. It was so good but very filling! My math teacher, Rehma, also taught me a cheer that they say when they are really excited about something. They say “werra werra” and wave! It was so fun seeing them do this and they wanted me to do it as well!

Thursday was a busy day for me. I taught all morning and then one class after tea. I taught math in two classes and science in two classes as well. In science, I did an activity to help students learn how you can and can not get HIV/AIDS. I cut out construction paper cards and wrote one way you can or cannot get HIV/AIDS on each card and passed them out to each student. They had to read their card aloud and then tell me if that was a way you can or cannot get HIV/AIDS. They loved participating and holding those cards. It was different from what they normally do because my activity didn’t involve copying down work on the board. We just talked about it and afterwards they wrote down homework. My teacher fully enjoyed my lesson and really learned a lot from me about HIV/AIDS as well. In math, I still did more review with finding the missing number with subtraction and addition. Many of my students did such a better job with their work.

Friday was just a review day for math on addition, subtraction, and finding the missing number. Friday is also sports day and this time I was able to stay and play with many of the students. They were playing soccer, jumping rope, running, and playing catch. I wanted to play catch with some of the students so I threw the ball up in the air and they would all try and catch it. I loved seeing their smiling faces when they caught the ball.

Today, Monday the 27th, was a great day as well. In the morning, I had the privilege of going to my teachers school that she built and started at her house. She took me to her home and walked around with me and showed me everything. Her school was only two rooms so far with only 10 students. It was such a good experience to see her school and to see her plans of building a bigger school. I also received a dress that my teacher made me. She took my measurements about a week ago and she made it that fast! It is such a beautiful gift and I will always remember my teacher. I am so grateful for her!

This past week went really well and I am getting so sad that this week is my last week here in Africa. I am going to miss my students so much but I know they will really succeed because my teacher has learned a lot from me.


Kilimanjaro

On Saturday we left for Mt. Kilimanjaro to do a weekend tour. We were driving to the mountain and on the way we stopped on the side of the road for a picture. We could see the mountain peaking through the clouds and it was so big! It looked almost fake in the clouds but it was just so cool. Then we reached the entrance gate to the park where we got out and we were able to walk around. We didn’t know that we weren’t hiking because there was a miscommunication with the tour guides and our teacher. It was still cool to see where you start hiking on the mountain, but I was really looking forward to hiking. We stayed there for only a short time and then we headed to see a Chagga hut. The Chagga hut was really cool; it was made out of grass. This was the first Chagga hut built in the 17th century. We were able to go inside and see what it looked like. It was really small inside because there was a cow, a calf, a cooking area, and 2 sleeping areas. I can’t believe that there was a whole family that lived in such a little space. As we were all waiting to go inside the hut, a lot of kids came around us to take pictures! They loved using our cameras and taking pictures of us and themselves!! Following our little hike to the Chagga hut, we went to the first Roman Catholic Church that was built in the Kilimanjaro area. It was a beautiful church on the outside and more beautiful on the inside. It had huge ceilings, stained glass windows, a balcony, and different worship corners. The funny part about the church was that there were 2 weddings going on! It was like we were crashing a wedding because we walked right in and were able to take pictures! There were a lot of beautiful gowns and people taking pictures of us! Right outside of the church, there is a few coffee plants that were the first ones around that area. We were able to try the coffee…YUM! I really enjoyed it. After that, we went to our hotel and relaxed for the night.

On Sunday, we had a 3 hour hike ahead of us! First, we hiked to another view point to see the mountain. I got really beautiful pictures of it because the sky was so clear! We then hiked through banana tree fields to see the grave of the first man who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and his two wives. It was really interesting to hear his story. He lived until he was 126 years old. He climbed the mountain over 100 times. This man did his last climb when he was in his upper 70’s. This man was so inspirational to many and I am definitely jealous of how many times he has climbed it! After this, we hiked to the Marangu Falls Kinukamori which was a beautiful waterfall. There was a huge statue of a woman at the top of the waterfall and the waterfall is named after her. The story behind this woman is that she was pregnant before marriage and in the Chagga tribe, that is something you will get killed for. So this woman went to the waterfall to commit suicide. She didn’t end up doing it but as she was talking back to her tribe to ask for forgiveness, a leopard was running after her and she fell down the waterfall. We were able to walk down to the waterfall and go swimming in our clothes! It was super cold but we did it. It was my first time ever swimming in a waterfall and it was just so much fun! After this we then headed for the blacksmith. This was really awesome because they were making heads of weapons. We were able to keep the fire going by pumping bags with our hands to push air into the fire. After doing this we were able to purchase some items that were made from these men. We then walked a little way to another Chagga hut that was an underground tunnel. It was so cool because we were able to go inside the cave and crawl a little ways. It was moist and I got mud all over my back because I was way too tall for this cave! The guide that took us down there said that 60+ people could live down there at a time. The Chagga used these caves to hide from the Maasai. There were wars between these two tribes a long time ago and that is why these caves came in handy. We then headed for lunch and to try banana beer. It was a traditional African lunch, which was so good! The banana beer was not that good; it was really grainy and bitter. But I can say that I tried it!

Overall, this trip was a great one but we all felt like tourists. We did so many things in a short amount of time. It was great to see all of these features around Kilimanjaro but it was so hard to see the mountain in our reach and not be able to hike. My favorite part about the whole weekend was the waterfall because of how much fun I had. I really like learning about the history of the Chagga tribes and seeing how they lived.


Things I have learned so far

This past week was a great week at school and in town. So many people are recognizing us on the street and school has been going a lot smoother.

At school, I have learned so many interesting things about how students learn, Tanzanian culture, and things about my teachers. This week, I have taught math and science. In the math lessons, I taught how to add and subtract vertically and horizontally. The students learn in a way of counting sticks together (for addition) and cutting sticks (for subtraction). For science this week, I taught about sitting and walking proper, and HIV/AIDS. I have learned that the language barrier is the hardest thing about teaching here. I try to ask the students questions about the math or science and they only respond with “yes”. I ask the questions in a different way, but the students still have a hard time answering what I am asking them. I have tried different ways of getting responses and it has worked great. I modeled first how to do something, then I would say, “tell me all together” and they would repeat what I just said. They understand better by choral response and I noticed that in their classwork notes. Also, I stepped out of the comfort zone of the students and did an activity that didn’t involve writing in their notebooks for classwork. The students will always learn a lesson for about 15-20 minutes and then they will copy the notes in their notebook. This copying process takes a very long time because they are such young students. I learned that they LOVE the individual attention by me so I tried a math activity that involved picking cards. I went to each students desk and had them pick a card. I would have 2 students pick one card at a time and then I would tell them to either add or subtract those two numbers. This was such a different experience for these students because they weren’t used to doing a classroom activity. I learned that my teacher wanted to really teach the way I did.

I have also learned a lot about Tanzanian culture by just talking to my math teacher, Rehma. She was asking me and telling me about differences or similarities in America. She first asked me if I was married and how marriage works in the USA. I told her that I wasn’t married but had a boyfriend for a long time. She told me that usually women get married here at a young age and then have kids. She has 3 children 12, 8, and 4 months and she has been teaching for over 10 years at Lutheran. Then we talked about beggars on the street here and beggars on the street in the US. She told me that we had to be careful because some of the beggars use the money for drugs or other bad habits. She also told me that those people will sit out on the streets and just wait for people to give them money. Most of the women will cook corn, beans, and nuts and try to sell those to make money for their families. Then we talked about religion here and in the US. She said most of the people she knows are either Lutheran or Roman Catholic. They have certain times during the day for prayer where everyone goes to pray. She asked me if we had certain times and I just told her that I go to church on Sunday’s and other people can go to church more than once a week if it is offered. I also shared with her that we can pray when we need to pray, like when we need to ask for forgiveness, pray for meals, before bed, and for guidance. She was shocked to hear that we could pray whenever we needed too because their prayers are always scheduled. I learned so much about her culture and a little about Tanzanian culture last week that I am so interested in hearing more this coming up week!

On the street, we made friends with the locals who have been trying to sell us items at the beginning of the week and now they don’t try to sell us things anymore. They will help us cross the street because the streets are super crazy here! They will also ask us about Michigan and Obama. They are becoming our friends and they are really nice to everyone which makes us all feel more comfortable while walking. I just love the culture here in the streets and seeing how friendly people are. I learned a lot about the street life and how much people want to talk to us. I love being here with all the hustle and bustle of the city!


Safari part 2

We reached the Ngorongoro Crater on Monday night after our journey through the Serengeti and relaxed in our hotel for the night. We checked in and showered and headed down to the lobby for some entertainment. A few Maasai people came and performed a traditional dance for us and it was spectacular. I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved all of their jewelry, clothing, and voices. Dinner was in a huge dinning hall with a view that was breath taking. It looked right out into the Crater so we could see the whole thing. I couldn’t stop looking out the window all night. Even the views from our rooms were looking straight in the crater…gorgeous!! We were able to go look at the stars that night which were so clear because there was absolutely no light around us.

The next morning, we got into our safari vehicles again and went to explore the Ngorongoro Crater. It doesn’t look like it is a big crater when you are on the rim, but once you get inside the crater…wow! It was huge!! We had the chance to drive around any place we wanted in the crater and find animals. Right away we found 2 rhinos laying in the grass. Our safari driver told us that we will come back to that spot because they were sleeping. We drove through a more wooded area inside the crater that had a few elephants and baboons. Then we drove more and saw a ton of zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, and gazelle. Then we get a call on our radio that there is a lion laying next to someones safari vehicle. We drive over to find that a lion that just ate is trying to get shade by laying basically under a car!! We got so many close up pictures. The lion started to move and walked across the road and decided to lay in the middle of the road. We drove more just looking at more animals and there was another lion in the middle of the road getting some shade by a vehicle and then it decided to come next to our vehicle!! I was in the back seat and the lion put its body up against the car and I stuck my head out the window and got a picture with the lion that was super close to me!!!! How cool!! That is the closet I will ever get to such a big and dangerous animal but I wasn’t scared at all! It was just such a cool moment to see that lion right outside my window where I could have touched him, he was that close. We drove more the stopped to eat lunch by a little pond that was full of hippos.

After lunch, it was time for us to go back to Arusha. But before we could get outside of the crater, we wanted to go see the flamingos. As we were driving to see them, we spotted a rhino that no other group got to see. We stayed and watched it walk closer to the road and then we drove other to get closer to it. It walked right across the road and we got so many awesome pictures of the rhino. That would make the rhino count 3. The interesting thing about rhino is that there are only 26 of them in the Ngorongoro Crater and there aren’t any in the Serengeti. So for us to see 3 rhinos, was a pretty amazing day!! Our group definitely had some bragging rights when we got home!

Since we stopped to look at the rhino, we only had about an hour to reach the gates of the park where we came in at and got our pass. Our pass for the weekend was only good until 2:45pm on that Tuesday and if we were late, we would have to pay for an extra day. Our driver was driving so fast in order to make it and sure enough, right at 2:45 we pulled into the gates and changed our flat tire that we got! He was happy that he made it in time and that we got to see the rhino up close!

This weekend trip was unforgettable and I couldn’t image it happening any other way but this. I saw all big 5 animals: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino. I saw more animals on top of that and I now have memories that I will never forget!! Safari will probably be my favorite trip we take this month because of the views, majestic animals, and the memories I made with 6 friends in the safari vehicle. All 7 of us got along so great and we always were joking around. It was a blast and if I could go again on a safari, I would in a heart beat.