Jambo from Arusha, Tanzania!
This has been an amazing trip so far and it just keeps getting better and better! I have so many positive impressions of the African people, food, and the school system from my experiences here so far that I don’t know where to begin!
Let’s start with the African people. Everyone here is so nice and welcoming of us to their country. Our first full day here Dr. Kasmer had gotten some tour guides to show us around Arusha and they were so helpful and friendly! The guides were teaching us students Kiswahili and practicing with us so that we could improve and learn at the same time. The thing that struck me as particularly interesting about the people here is that everyone welcomes everyone on the street. Everyone says “Jambo!” (hello) “Habari?” (how are you?) “Karibu!” (welcome! ) to us! That’s so different that here in America where we smile and nod but we don’t really pick up a conversation with strangers. I was told that the people here are polite and friendly but I didn’t expect to this amount of degree and it’s really a cool thing. It’s not just that they’re polite even it’s that they genuinely seem interested in where I’m from and want to know more about me like I want to know more about them and it’s just really an amazing thing to be a part of. Something that really touched my heart was that on our first night eating at the Outpost the food was served upstairs but the second night, since the staff saw that I was amputated and stairs are hard for me, moved the food serving area downstairs so that I wouldn’t have to climb up and down the steps. That was so, so very nice of them and I very much appreciated that. This is just another example of just how kind, considerate, and caring the people here are. Another thing that impressed me as we were walking around that first day was that there are so many people living here in Arusha! There are people everywhere selling things, buying things, and moving from place to place! I’m from a very small town (I swear cows out number people) and being in a big city like this is such a new and fun experience for me! The city is really cool because it’s not what I think of when I think of city. There are beautiful trees, rivers, and lush green areas right at the very edge of the city itself! It’s so different from our “concrete jungles”, where you’d have to drive for a long while before you see true greenery.
The food here is amazing! I love it. When we arrived to the country the group of us went out to dinner at the Blue Heron for dinner and I got pizza! I was not expecting pizza at all and it was such a wonderful treat to see. However, once I started eating the food served at the Outpost that pizza pales in comparison. They have this dish that is beef in a red wine sauce and it is the best thing I think I’ve ever eaten in my life. I am definitely getting that before I leave again because it was so, so good! All the food is good here, especially – to my surprise – vegetable curry. I’m not a fan of vegetables but that vegetable curry changed my mind completely.
The educational system here is very interesting to witness and be a part of. I am learning so much from my teachers here about how their education system works and their standards and how to teach middle school grade students. I’m teaching a 6th grade classroom and they are vastly different than my third graders and I’m excited to have this new experience working with older students for a long period of time. This experience has already made me push myself to do better for my students and think of ways to circumnavigate issues that I am experiencing with the lack of resources that my students have. I have a good lesson plan for Wednesday next week that will hopefully resolve the resources issues that I’m experiencing and I’m excited to give it a go. The students are so cool and a lot of fun! They are excited to learn and they were really shy with us the first day but the second day all the questions came out! They wanted to know what my favorite songs were, what life is like in America, how many zoos are there, and so much more. When I showed them my prosthetic, however, there were so many more questions about it! I had a lot of fun talking to them about it and telling them my life story and they were so sweet by apologizing to me about my leg and my cancer. I just love how caring my students are and I am already going to miss them when I’m gone. I already am sad that I won’t be there on Monday and Tuesday because we are going to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater for our four day safari trip!!! I’m so, so very excited to go!
Overall this trip has started out wonderfully and I can’t wait to see where this safari will take me! I am going on a safari!