Here’s my last blog post… I probably wouldn’t have written it unless my professor hadn’t emailed me and said she noticed I hadn’t submitted it. Busted. It’s not like I forgot… Usually that’s what happens with homework. It’s more like I just didn’t want to write it. Even though I’m typing on my laptop back in Allendale, MI, USA, I don’t want to make it official. I don’t want to say goodbye.
The prompt was “lasting impressions.” Lasting impressions… How do I put that into words? How do you do that? I don’t think I can.
Well at least if you’re reading this, take some advice from a weary wanderer who has super intense jet lag and spontaneously bursts into tears for no reason… Go experience it for yourself. Go somewhere. Travel, but don’t be a tourist, greedy to take a piece of that place. Go as a learner. Go as a giver. Go and give something to the people you’re surrounded by. Don’t give them something stuff wise. Stuff is… well it’s just stuff. If you can give them time. Because time is the only thing that is truly priceless. Form a friendship, ask questions about where you are, who you’re taking to, care about the people that make up the place that you’re visiting.
Well shoot I think that is what’s impacted me the most. Realizing the value of time. I didn’t even realize it until just now.
Anybody can travel to Tanzania. Anybody can travel anywhere. People can go see great things, but so what? Yeah it’s cool, but so what? I think this trip was special because not only did we go somewhere amazing and saw incredible things, but we also had the chance to form relationships with the people there. We got to know them on a human to human basis.
They weren’t just part of the scenery…
They were Maluta, the stocky safari driver with a little girl Angel and boy, Alan, who’s three and loves to wake his dad up at 5 in the morning because he’s ready for breakfast. But Maluta doesn’t mind because every moment with his son is treasured since Maluta is gone on safari so often. He loves cars more than anything except his wife who he cherishes so much. They were Moses, who fell so hard for his wife that he knew he would marry her the minute he saw her, who showed us that love is universally awesome. Who is now happily married to her and has several children, including Bright and Muffin. They were Sala, the cute little man who made us omelets every day who has a giving heart, that is a vegetarian, and a hopeless romantic and giggled like a little kid. Who taught us Swahili every morning. They were Immaculate, a teacher at the school who loves her job. Who loves her students more than anything and tries to form relationships with them even though that’s not the norm in Tanzania. Whose father died in a village outside of Arusha and she was left alone with her mother. Who aspires to be so much in honor of her mother who worked so hard to help her become who she is now. They were Makala, whose deepest desire is to see his children succeed and love the Lord. Who wants to see the White House more than anything, and if he could only see that, he would just say thank you to God and be happy for the rest of his life. I could go on forever because people are awesome. Everyone has a story. Which you can hear for the very low price of a few minutes of your time!
We also had the opportunity to teach, which in my biased opinion is the best way to spend my time. It’s such an intimate experience. As the teacher, you see students expose their flaws, their short comings, where the excel, where they fall short. Your job is to inspire them and encourage them. Help them grow. They tell you their dreams and their hopes which you are lucky enough to be a small part of them achieving them. It’s amazing. It’s the best profession in the world. My only wish for this trip is that I could have spent more time with them. But even spending every second with them wouldn’t have been enough.
So yeah next time you go to toss some change into a Sal Val bucket at Christmas time, keep it or toss it in, whatever. But then take some time and volunteer at their local location get to know the people there or maybe ask the guy who’s ringing the bell why he does it, or if he’s having a good day. Next time you go to give some money to a homeless person. Stop. Don’t do it. Sit down next to them. Talk to them. Ask them how their day has been. Invite them to get food with you. Why is that so hard? Next time you sit next to a stranger who looks like they’re having a bad day, say hi. Talk to that person at work who’s name you’re not sure about even though you’ve worked together for ages.
I’m super sad to be gone, obviously Arusha has changed my perspective a lot. But at the same time…
There’s a couple billion other people I haven’t met and a ton of opportunities for me here. I just found a piece of paper my roommate left me that’s titled “Emily Pentis- Job Offer.” It says they need somebody to help run a mentoring program in Hudsonville called Kids Hope USA… Well hot dog, that sounds pretty awesome. So yeah, like I said—a ton of opportunities.
So here’s to Arusha, Tanzania. Here’s to all the people we met. Here’s to coming home and having a million more God given minutes of time to give. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad to be back.