Mimi ni mwanafunzi [I am a student]
Even though we are almost half way done with our African adventures, I feel as though we have only just arrived. I am surprised at home many things we have done and how much we still have to do. At the same time, I also feel as though I have learned so much while here.
Here is just a few of the things I have learned on this safari [journey]:
1. I don’t like flying. I get motion sick and the plane is rough on my stomach and head.
2. Plane food is strange. They offered us fish on one of the flights. That seemed like a horrible idea to me.
3. Africa is really dark. Sunsets are much sooner than they are in Michigan and there is much less light pollution. The stars are AMAZING at night.
4. In the dark, things don’t look very different. It seems as though I could still be in Michigan when we were driving around. At the same time, when there is sunlight things are completely different.
5. Watch out for cars. People don’t care if they run you over. We have had some pretty close calls. Also, Tanzanians drive drunk. They do not have very many road laws, and they are pretty much not enforced.
6. Critters happen. I had a tiny little gecko in my luggage the first morning. Therefore, I had to empty my bag entirely to catch it in a cup and set it free. There have been several others hanging out in our room since then. Dogs bark. A lot. And loudly. It is just what they do.
7. Cold showers aren’t that bad… as long as they warm up eventually. Sometimes it takes a while for the showers to heat up, and when you are in a rush you just have to suck it up and go for it.
8. Africa is beautiful.
9. Even though various countries have different methods of teaching, their intentions are pretty much the same. I have had conversations with several teachers at Prime (secondary level) about why they want to educate the children. It seems as though everyone just wants the students to reach their full potential so that they can have a positive impact on this world and make it a better place.
I have also noticed that Tanzanian education, at least at Prime, may not be so different from the U.S. as we thought.
10. Never let your guard down and don’t get too comfortable.
11. Try as much as you can. Even if you are uncomfortable, it is better to try something or do something at least once so that you can make sure you actually don’t like it before completely ruling it out of your life. Who knows, maybe you will actually like it too.
12. Spending money is okay. I was trying to save my money and was hoarding it so that I could guarantee I had enough for who knows what. Finally, I came to the conclusion that if I want something and know I will use it, it is okay to get it.
13. Pole pole [slowly slowly]. Sometimes you just need to relax and take in your surroundings. There is no need to be in a rush all the time.
14. It is the little things that matter. Sometimes you just have to focus on the small achievements and successes so that you don’t get bogged down by all the negatives and the stress. I have also noticed that a little kindness and small amounts of support can make a huge difference.
15. Candy and stickers can be a teacher’s best weapon. These kids need motivation. It may not be the best solution, but positive reinforcement and bribes may be what is needed to get some students moving forward.
There are so many other things that I have learned on this trip. I just hope that I am nowhere near done learning from this experience. Hopefully, I will continue learning even after I return to the U.S.
– Paige D.