This trip has involved more first impressions than I ever thought possible. I have never left the continent, have never been on a plane for more than 4 hours, have never visited a foreign city, and have certainly never been to a foreign school. In the last two days I have experienced all of those things.
The plane ride was shockingly fine and my first impression of the Dutch in Amsterdam was amazing. They are so nice and I have never seen a more pleasant group of flight attendants, they literally never stopped smiling regardless of the hundreds of sleep deprived and crabby passengers.
My first impression of visiting Arusha was also great just very overwhelming. Sensory overloud is how I would describe it but it is also a huge huge understatement. The cars drive fast and honk often and a lot of times have people hanging out the windows and talking or yelling. There were so many things to look at between the people, the buildings, the flowers and everything happening in the street. At the same time there were tons of people trying to sell us things, ask us questions about America, and greet us. It was a great and eye opening experience.
Now, for the school, this was truly amazing. I can’t even begin to describe it. I was very impressed by the school. It is huge, more like a campus than how we traditionally think of elementary schools in the U.S. We started by going to the head mistresses office and it was ornate and giant with high ceilings and big couches in addition to her desk and workspace. Then we met some members of the staff, and they were all so pleasant and friendly and genuinely happy to see us and so curious about us. I got to observe a class and experience the students standing up and singing to us upon entering the room. Then, they asked us in unison how we were and also answered in unison that they were fine. We were also introduced to a couple of other classrooms and the students were so happy and excited to see us. The other GVSU students and I walked around the campus and played with the children while they were on recess. There were kids everywhere you looked and the crazy thing is with no supervision. But there was no misbehavior or dangerous things going on like there would be in the U.S. I could go on forever and ever about this but it was so amazing and I am still in awe of everything I experienced today. I know each and everyday I go to school I will continue to feel amazed and so overwhelmed by everything going on around me and with feeling unbelievably grateful for having this experience.
I keep having to remind myself that I am in Africa having this experience. It is unreal.