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. 🙂
This has been an experience that will be a part of my life everyday. I will constantly be thinking about the places we have been, the people we have met, and the friendships we have made. Reflecting on this trip is not an easy thing to do since it does not feel like it is over. I guess it feels that way because I have been neglecting the thoughts of this trip being over. Leaving this country is going to be so bittersweet. I have made such amazing friends and have had the experience of a lifetime, but leaving Arusha is going to be so hard. I know we will all shed a few tears and be sad for a while, but we all need to remember how much fun we have had and how the trip is going to benefit our future careers and even ourselves.
Having the chance to come on a trip like this one has had left me with many impressions. I will be taking away memories from each and every day. Teaching at Lutheran has helped me become a more confident teacher. I have learned how to help those who truly do not understand, especially those who do not know English. The language barrier that we all had to face in our schools has been something we have learned how to deal with in the best ways possible. I know I will be coming home with more certainty in helping those who are struggling or who do not understand.
Being in Tanzania has also helped me be more laid back when problems arise. The calm and hakuna matata lifestyle has left its mark on all of us, and I can say with much confidence that that is something I will be bringing home with me. It is something that all Americans need more of. We need to not worry when it’s been 20 minutes and we are still waiting on our driver, or one hour and our food has not shown up. These things are so minor, We realize this now, but at home it is a different story.
As of now I have learned more about myself than I ever have before. I can see how I have changed, maybe not that much, but a small change is still a change. I can see myself being a teacher and being a successful one, I can see all of these wonderful people and how they have helped make this experience the one it was. I am going to miss every little thing about this country and everyone who I have met. Building these friendships is something that all of us will bring home and cherish for a lifetime. For now, I will be saving up every penny I have so I can return to Arusha someday and visit those who have impacted me and, of course, to reach the top of Kilimanjaro ☺
Just a bit more than 4 weeks ago when leaving for Africa I thought I knew what to expect and what the next month would be like. If I had to grade the accuracy of my expectations to reality I would give them a “D”. As high as my expectations were, my experience went far beyond.
The first lasting impression I have is the generosity of the teaching staff at Tetra Lutheran. They took us out for roasted goat last Friday, on the last day of school they presented us with gifts and a prepared a special lunch to tell us goodbye. It is not something that I would expect from a group of people that even though they have a respectable profession, most do not earn enough to keep a personal bank account open.
The second lasting impression would be the sincere love and fondness of the students for us. On the last day at school we spent hours playing, talking, and saying goodbye to the students. While I thought the 3 hours would be enough, the goodbyes could have lasted twice that long, as every student wanted a hug and to personally say goodbye. The general conversation that I had when saying goodbye was only one word, “tutonana”.
My first lasting impression would have to be the educational system here. Teaching in these schools has really shown me what it looks like for an entire classroom to be eager for every new thing you have to teach them and they really truly hang upon your every word. I feel that the flexibility within their schools, such as starting class whenever the teacher shows up and only finishing when the teacher decides they are done, is something that I will never forget. I think this really translates well into our classroom situations too. As a teacher it is important to be flexible because not everything is going to go as planned. We need to be able to shorten lessons and lengthen them when necessary and sometimes fill empty time that we weren’t expecting to have. Also within the schools, the ability to promote learning in such an environment where there are no teaching tools besides the teacher and the blackboard is very humbling. Before this trip I had it in my mind that in every lesson I needed to be incorporating some sort of tool or manipulative but these schools have really taught me how to create more learning with less resources. I feel that this is HUGE within the classroom because there is always the chance that the resources you want to use will somehow become unavailable.
My second lasting impression is the “hakuna matata” lifestyle that the people here live. Everyone is so carefree and, like I said before, living on their own time schedule. The lifestyle here is so calm and truly taking each moment as it comes which is completely the opposite of what I feel like living in America is like. At home everyone is going a million miles and hour and tries to do so much at all times. I know I get stressed out more than I should because I am always overloading myself with things to do. Living here for a month has really taught me to slow down. “Pole pole” as the people here would tell you, meaning “slowly, slowly”. At home, the focus is on getting as much done as you can in the shortest period of time possible but this culture has really taught me that it is okay to do things slowly and not to rush through every moment of my life. I feel that trying to incorporate some of the “hakuna matata” and “pole pole” lifestyle into my daily life in Michigan will really help me to find a greater joy in the things I am doing.
I feel that my biggest lasting impressions would be the change I have seen in myself within the past month. Before this experience I was very shy and typically kept to myself in most situations. I never liked to try new things and stuck to doing things that were within my comfort zone. If you asked me a year or two ago if I would be willing to try and come on this trip I would have decided not to come solely because I wasn’t confident in myself and this would have been something that took me way out of my comfort zone. Making new friends and willingly putting myself in situations with people I don’t know has always been something I have shied away from. This experience has really helped me become vulnerable and open up to new people while trying a LOT of new things! The confidence I have gained in myself from teaching these students is unbelievable and just the love that they have shown me every day has really helped me accept myself for who I am. I am no longer afraid to try new things with people I don’t know and that feeling is extremely empowering and something I will never forget!
How do I even begin. This trip has been such an incredible adventure. From going on Serengeti safari or traipsing through Arusha National park to teaching precious children how to subtract with double borrowing, this trip has been such an amazing blessing and experience.
The biggest impression that will last forever are all of the faces and the culture of the Tanzanian people. Simply walking on the street, you are able to notice the pole pole lifestyle and the hakuna matata life philosophy. There is so much respect between everybody which amazes me since there are 120 tribes that all accept each others differences. There is so much unity between the people. No matter what tribe you come from, young and old know the Tanzania Anthem. Going on our weekend adventures really showed me how proud the Tanzanians are about their land and how proud they are to be called Tanzanians. However, walking through the markets you notice that the Tanzanians have little personal pride. The hakuna matata lifestyle allows relationships to grow and invest since they all work together. For example, a vendor in the market could watch his neighbors shop and continue to help his neighbor shop instead of ushering people into his or her own shop. This creates a family unity that is also shown inside of the classroom.
During our time at Assumptions there wasn’t any bullying going on that I saw! Being in Standard II, the children really work well together, look out for one another and share! This sense of unity and acceptance by all in the classroom is a huge necessity and one thing that I now can visually picture.
Arusha, Tanzania will always hold a special place in my heart. It has helped me grow professionally and personally as I was able to really dive into the culture and lifestyle of a Tanzanian. Africa may be third world but in my book, but I believe that in some aspects they are better off then we are.
I feel like I’m going to write this and just cry. I just thought you’d like to know.
As for lasting impressions, I have no idea what is going to last, but I do know that I will forever hold this place and the people in my heart. The things I have done, the people I’ve met, and the places I went have impacted me so strongly, that I just can’t bring myself to even remotely want to go home. I have family, a boyfriend, and friends there; and yet I just can’t seem to want to return to them. This is just too much fun and I love everything about it here.
I know the first week I was here was pretty rough. I didn’t connect with anyone, the teachers at the schools weren’t communicating well enough to give me anything to teach, and I had no idea what I was doing here. After that first weekend trip to the Serengeti, I bonded pretty strongly with Team Get Some. We were all a fantastic group of people stuck in a safari jeep together for three days and we someone didn’t kill each other. We instead got along splendidly and even continued to remain close after that trip.
The second week here was a still a little rough, because my classroom schedule was still rather iffy and I had no idea why I was showing up to school to co teach one lesson every day. It was kind of a bore. Only one teacher really paid attention to Brandi and I (we were at the same school together) and all the others sort of passed over us as random, nonsensical teachers. Thankfully, I finally talked to the headmaster and got him to give Brandi and I English and Physics classes so we could teach separately, so my third week became awesome.
It was the second weekend that I actually made my best friends on this trip. It was then that I found out what people were really my friends and who was willing to make sure I was okay. I really hope that I will not lose touch with said friends, because they are possibly the greatest people I have ever met. No joke. It’s a sappy “last impression”, but it’s what is going to stick with me. I need friends and this trip has provided me with the best ones yet.
As for actually being in Tanzania and experiencing the amazingness called Tanzanian culture, it’s beautiful. The people here are super friendly (even if sometimes they only want you to buy something) and everyone cares for everyone. There’s no judgment here that I’ve run into. Jambo. Mambo. Habari. Hakuna matata. Hamna shida. Pole. They seriously want to make sure that everyone is welcomed here and I can’t say I really want to return to the harata pace back in America. The transition here was tough, but the transition coming back home I feel is going to be worse.
Even though I had a rough start to my school week here, I fell head over heels in love with my students; and their desire to learn anything I threw at them was so amazing. They kept asking me what the difference was between American and Tanzanian education and all I kept thinking was that they actually appreciated what I had to tell them and they paid attention (at least most of the time). Those students wiggled their way into my heart and I will cherish them forever.
Lastly, I want to say that I knew I wanted to be a teacher before coming here, but teaching these kids has solidified my desire to do this for the rest of my life; and the people here have shown me just how much people can truly love one another.
I’m going to miss this. All of this. Looking out at everyone just relaxing, knowing this is our last night here, I know that I’m going to seriously hate getting on that plane tomorrow; but alas, I do what I must. I hope I can bring back what I have learned to the States and show my students just how much education can be enjoyable.
To Tanzania *cheers*
– Amanda Hoezee
I hate to be as presumptuous as to think that I know what impressions from this trip will last, because deep down, I know that I haven’t the foggiest idea of which things will prove to be useful and/or reinforced back in the States. I can, however, give you some idea of the things that I find most important or most touching for the time that I’m sitting at Café Mambo, sipping a Ndovu beer, and wishing that I weren’t boarding a plane tomorrow morning to leave this country for what I hope proves not to be the last time.
Truth be told, I’ve made too good of friends in this city, in this country, to just pick up and leave like that. Part of me wants to be childish and say it isn’t fair that we all have to go, because I just don’t want to! I’m not ready to say goodbye to Tanzania yet. More to the point, the circumstances here were special, and they have allowed me to make very close friends with some people who I don’t think I otherwise could have grown close to. Every person on this trip, at some point, has wriggled their way into my heart, and I don’t really want for all of us to leave just yet. I have made quite possibly two of the best friends I’ll have (at least two of the best people I’ve had the privilege to meet) and I hope they think as much of me as I do of them. But even if they don’t, that’s okay, because I have loved all of the (many, many) moments I’ve got to spend with them over the course of this month. I suppose one of the things that I’ll take away from this trip is that – the friends I’ve made. They’re wonderful, and I love them.
In point of fact, I was grossly under-prepared for this trip, and for all of the stressors it would press in upon me. For the past four years – or so – I walked around the campus at Grand Valley calling myself a Mathematics and Physics teacher, and not knowing what the second half of that meant. I know how to teach math, but when it came to physics, I definitely had strong points and weak points. The weak points, particularly, were glaringly weak. Once I arrived in Tanzania, however, and walked into Engarenarok Lutheran Tetra Secondary School, I was the expert and I was expected to be the expert in physics as well as mathematics. So when I decided to take on the Physics Form III students (equivalent to junior level physics) and found out I would be teaching Optics (a subject I haven’t studied in six years, and one in which I have never excelled), I simply had to. I brushed up and taught it to the best of my ability. Mirrors, lenses, reflection, refraction, microscopes, telescopes, projectors, and the human eye – I taught them all after reading up on them and researching them in a panicked hurry in order not to look a fool and to prepare my students for their exams and life. If I’m being honest, it was daunting, even terrifying, to sit and lesson plan optics lessons when I knew that I was just as fresh to the material as they would be, but it pushed me to become a more well-rounded and better teacher, and it helped me to rediscover some of the physics topics I had previously discarded, giving me an opportunity to fall in love with my subjects all over again.
The last thing I am making a point of writing down is just how under-resourced these schools are and, as a result, how grateful the students and staff are for us. It’s like when we walked into the building, they got really excited. They thought (and think) the world of us, and it’s very humbling. I can’t help thinking, “I’m nothing special. I’m just a guy who loves kids and wants to teach them for a career.” And apparently that’s a huge deal. The students, too, can’t get enough of these mzungu teachers standing in front of them and teaching them about math and – in my case – physics. And the resources I have to work with are as follows: an outdated, type-o-riddled book, a blackboard, a few pieces of broken chalk, and my imagination. That’s it. It’s a tall order, but one that I was up for. I suppose that the students and teachers here think that’s impressive, and I guess objectively it is, but for me, it was as simple as that: I had to teach x and y, and I could use a and b, and we had to make it happen. Nothing special. But they loved us for it. They loved us so much, and it was such a humbling experience. I will miss the challenge and reward of teaching in such communities. That is perhaps one of the most important things to take away from this trip.