Sitting here it is hard to believe that our trip to Tanzania is almost over. It has been an experience like none other and my eyes fill with tears as I think about leaving. All of the students’ smiling faces, the beautiful trips we have taken, the friends I have made here all fly through my mind. How do I say “goodbye” to them for the last time? How is it possible to say goodbye to someone who has touched your heart more than you ever thought possible? The answer is clear, you can’t.
Sekei Secondary School has been my second home and all the teachers and students alike have left a huge mark on my heart and I am certain I will never forget them. It isn’t just the fact that they were my colleagues or students, but they have all become like family to me. We cracked jokes together, played games, learned about each others’ lives, and gained such a strong bond because of it. I will never forget how the students called me “Madam,” how Shao became the grandfather I never had, how the students’ desire to learn surpassed all the students I have met yet in America. All stick with me.
These people are not the only ones who have impacted me. The safari drivers who day in and day out were there for us as we rode through areas filled with lions, Maasai people, and dug us out of a mud pit when we got stuck also come to my mind. They acted as our father figures and kept us safe, fed, and entertained. The ability for people here to always care about us and what we have to say is something I know I will take with me when I return to the United States. Before this trip I would have said that it would be very difficult to find someone you don’t know who genuinely cares when you talk to them, but in Tanzania these people are everywhere. Even complete strangers walking on the street will carry on a conversation with you, asking about your life and interests. It makes me realize that everyone just needs an ear to listen to them. Once you have given someone some of your time, they will tell you everything you would like to know and more. I know when I return to the states I will be a lot more open to listening to others and saying hello to them.
Aside from friendliness, the culture here will stick with me. Everyone here treats others with so much respect, which you do not find most places. Students ask permission to speak, enter the classroom, and are always welcoming me to join in on what they are doing. I know this respect will stay with me forever. I hope to continue this in my future classrooms by not only giving my students respect, but asking for it in return. In providing a mutual relationship with my students I know they will work hard and in turn do well. I can not wait to take all that I learned here back to America, but as I prepare myself to leave I can’t help but feel pain in my heart that I may never see or talk to these people again. All I can hope is that these relationships never fade and that one day we either reunite in Tanzania or America.