Habari Yako Tanzania? I’m comin’, are you ready?
Yikes! As I sit in my room here at Grand Valley University after a long day of checking my residents out of their rooms the thought that in two days I will be in Africa seems like a long off dream. All my life I have dreamed of going to Africa to teach, but I never thought it would be a reality, especially while in college. Yet, here I sit, starting to pack my small suitcase and travel across the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I’m not excited to go to Africa, I just haven’t really had time to process the whole idea yet. Exams and schoolwork have been my main focus until Thursday, checkouts consumed my Thursday and Friday and now I am packing. It has all gone so fast and while I sit down to finally write about my feelings about the trip I gaze at the pictures of Tanzania on-line and smile knowing I will soon be standing in the forefront of all of them.
I am looking forward to teaching in the schools, going on a safari, and having an experience unlike any other I have yet experienced. The students are the number one thought going through my mind now. I can’t wait to work with the students, who I’ve heard are super willing to learn. It will be such a change from here in America where at times I feel more like an entertainer than the teacher because students have such limited encouragement to learn. In Tanzania I know it will be a wonderful classroom experience and that the students will not be the only ones learning. Aside from school, I am so excited to go on a safari! I was looking through pictures of the Ngorongoro crater and the whole area looks absolutely beautiful. I hope to see lots of animals while on safari, in particular an elephant! My bucket list that I made is going to have quite a lot checked off after this trip. I wanted to go on a safari, help in an orphanage overseas, and teach students in Africa. How crazy to be able to do all three in one month?!? Although it is going to be an experience of a lifetime, I know I will shape and change while in Tanzania as well.
I hope to learn about the African culture, some Swahili, and useful activities I can use in a classroom in my future years as a teacher. The people there all seem to live life with an aura of happiness surrounding them. I cannot wait to assimilate into their lifestyle and gain not only an understanding of their lifestyle, but also an appreciation for all I have. I know I take advantage of everything I am given quite often, and I am really excited to help others who do not have quite as many luxuries. Swahili is a beautiful language and I cannot wait to learn it and be able to communicate with the natives there. In the classroom I look forward to working with the children, but I am also very excited to learn effective mathematics teaching methods. It is difficult these days to simplify information since we have so many resources to use. The computer, calculator, and manipulatives available in classrooms today are astounding and I can’t wait until I use very basic things to communicate lessons to the students.
I know there are many more amazing things that will come from this trip including new friends, adventures, and lots of fun, which definitely outweigh the homesickness that has settled in my stomach. However, I can’t be naïve in thinking that I won’t miss my home, friends, or family. I will be thinking of them constantly and can’t wait until I will be able to come back home and share all of my stories with them.
As of right now, all I can say is “habari yako Tanzania?” which means “what’s up Tanzania?” I’m coming with an open mind and adventurous spirit, are you ready? I know I am!