After landing from 17 hours of flying and making it through customs,all I was looking forward to was a place to sleep. Hence, my very first impression of Africa was one masked by pure exhaustion. Our first full day in Arusha was filled with many new sights, sounds, and smells. We were bombarded by people trying to sell us various wares as well as to practice their English. Our group of 20 drew large amounts of attention, making the trip through the market rather unnerving. Following our explorations, we returned to the hotel extremely tired and overwhelmed.
On Wednesday, we headed to our first day of school. Not surprisingly, the headmaster and teachers had forgotten it was the day of our arrival. With little to do, we observed a Form 3 math class. I was shocked that this class was so similar to the classes I have worked with in the US. Students were chatty ans somewhat mischievous. Their side conversations were mostly in English and there was some obvious flirting going on among a few boys and girls. We observed a physics class that was a little more rigid, but the kids were still goofing around for the majority of the class period. By the end of the day, we were a little frustrated that we did not have a schedule and that classes followed no specific timetable. When I voiced my frustrations, I was told TIA (this is Africa). I need to get used to the disorganization and simply “go with the flow.”
To conclude our first day, we went to an orphanage where we played with some of the children, It is disheartening to hear about all of the children who have been left on the side of the road by arents who did not want them anymore. I was most shocked by the older children; it was almost as if they did not even see a point to mak an effort to play with us because they knew people came to play with the little ones. Even as i sat inside watching television with them, my attempts at conversation were often ignored. With that being saidd, it is even more difficult to realize that these children are the lucky ones with a nice home, clothes, meals, and often schooling provided.
My first few days in Africa have been eye opening, intense, and exhausting. I know I have so many things to get used to any many more things to accomplish. I can already tell it will be a life chsnging trip.