Una weza kunionyesha Tanzania?
Can you show me Tanzania? After a month here in this amazing country, I cannot tell you everything about Tanzania. But, I can show you kudogo (a little) of what I have seen. Words cannot truly share what took place here in Arusah. Even if my internet was faster, I don’t think that pictures and videos could help either. Overall, my Tanzanian adventure has been a once and a lifetime experience. Here are some of my lasting impressions from this great trip.
- Mambo Poa
Mambo means hello or whats up. Poa means cool or it is cool. Every time I walk by someone on the streets of Arusha I always say Mambo or respond with Poa. These greetings may seem very simple, but they mean much more than just hello. The Tanzanian people are very friendly with greetings, and whats better, the sincerity of them. In fact, greetings in Tanzania are hardly ever just hello. They usually extend to “how are you, how is your family, how was your day”, and much more.Yes. I understand that I am one of the only white people around making me an interesting specimen, but the greetings have not stopped coming. Even after a month I still see peoples faces light up when you respond to their Kiswahili greetings. Looking at the differences between American and Tanzanian culture, I see a world of difference. The people here take time to talk to people they meet on the street, they understand the importance of caring for their friends and complete strangers, and these people want to learn about you and your life. I am thankful that I was able to travel here and relearn how to to be personable and willing to talk to anyone.
- Hello Obama
The westernization in this neck of the woods is an impression that I will remember. There are American rappers on every sign, european football (soccer) players are the main topic of most conversations, christian churches are everywhere, and even some western sayings are used in regular Kiswahili conversation. The most noticiable factor is the impact our president has made on the African people. There are stores called Obama’s Phones, there are pens called Obama pens, and every Tanzanian thinks Obama is the greatest human being in the world. I cannot believe his influence. My teachers assume that since everyone in Tanzania loves Mr. Obama that every American loves him too. This view cannot be changed either. I would love to see Bryce Scholten talk to my teacher friend Mr. Max about our president. In any case, the western culture present in this country cannot be explained. This idea of how much our country in particular matters to people across the world will stick with me.
- The Greatest Laugh on Earth
We arrived in Tanzania on a Monday. That Wednesday we visited an orphanage. It was cool and all at first, but then I met Baraka. All of the kids were fantastic and I have stories of most of them, but Baraka stands out to me the most. We brought beach balls with us to the orphanage and blew them up to play with. Baraka loved them. His pure joy was displayed by his laugh. I wish I recored this amazing laugh, but I will try to describe it. It was low and very guttural, but it was the most addicting laugh I have ever heard. I will never forget Baraka and the joy we helped bring him every Wednesday. The orphanage made me think about who I am, what I am doing, and what can I do to help people in this world like Baraka. Though I don’t know where God will take me at this point, I do know that there are people in this world that need help and I want to give what I have to make their lives better.
- Teaching with a Passion
African teachers are not very happy about where they ended up in life. In fact, most are trying to find a way out of this seemingly “dead end” job. One of our teachers is going to try to become a preacher, another a business man, others want to go to college and find another job. It is so sad. The money may be inadequate, but the kids are worth it. Every day they greet you as you walk into the classroom, there are very few discipline problems, and the kids almost teach themselves. What isn’t to love? I hope the teachers in Arusha School have observed the passion the muzungu’s (white person) have for teaching children. The passion I have for teaching has only increased while going through this study abroad process. I have always known I enjoy hanging out with kids, but I was always weary about teaching in a classroom every day. My choice of being a teacher was reaffirmed. When I saw a student understand a topic that was totally alien to them a half hour before, I confirmed that teaching is what I was made to do. If teaching in the ole USA doesn’t work out, I know I can come back here and do what I love.
- Teacha Teacha
Students in Tanzania are not the same as students from the mitten state. My placement for teacher assisting was with fifth graders in America and I taught the fifth grade here in Tanzania. This was awesome for comparison of both types of students. The main difference, from my experience, was students motives. My American students seemed to work for grades or because their parents want them to do well in school. My Tanzanians work hard to learn and succeed. This is a generalization so know that I am not saying all American students are slackers or anything, but there is a difference. Here is an example of what I mean. When doing a simple lecture activity, my students at Arusha School literally stand up with their hands raised and yell “teacha, teacha, teacha!” They want to show what they know, they want to ask questions, they want to learn. These students are awesome! I want to stay and continue to be amazed at the way my Arusha students roll.
I cannot express how much I care about these students after just a month. They have touched my heart and I will never forget them. I cannot wait to see how they learn and grow. I will most definitely never forget hearing “teacha teacha!”