Though it sounds incredibly corny and cliché, my experience here in Tanzania has truly been once in a lifetime. I have bonded with a great group of future educators, and together, we have tackled several challenges as well as making lasting memories. Over the past four weeks, I have seen so many wonderful things in this beautiful country. I have been able to experience teaching mathematics, go on a safari in the Serengeti, make honey from sting-less bees, and go inside a Maasai boema(hut). The lessons I have learned are too numerous to count and I have gained so many insights that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
As I have been teaching in the schools, I have been focused on teaching the children by merging the lecture style lesson they are used to completing with activities that allow them to explore concepts. Though unsure of my teaching style at first, after a few days the students began to get used to my “Mizungu” ways and some really started to understand the mathematical concepts. I will never forget the look of satisfaction on the faces of the students when things “clicked” for them and they finally understood the lesson. I suppose this look is the reason why I want to be a teacher. I will always remember these students as being some of my first students in my teaching career. Though I would not be so forward to say that I made some sort of difference in the lives of my students here, I can walk away content knowing that they have made a large difference in my life.
Though our group came to Tanzania to teach, we have been able to experience so much more than the schools. I have been very surprised by the friendly people here. In the US, people walking on the street going about their daily business will almost always avoid eye contact. Here in Tanzania, it seems impolite to walk by someone without greeting them. Additionally, Tanzanians are more than willing to talk with a visitor for hours and answer any questions you have about their country and language. In return, most usually only want to know a little about your personal background. I suppose I will remember the large smiles and warm hellos of the friends I have met here.
Coming to Africa is usually seen by most in the western world as an act of charity. People see the images of rampant poverty that span this continent. While the people here may be “poor” if you measure their wealth and material possessions, getting to know them shows a whole different picture. Many Tanzanians I have spoken to initially lament about their lack of money, but when asked about what truly matters to them, they say that they are happy with food, a home and family. In other terms they have all that any human needs to survive and they admit that they are happier without the burden of money. To sum up the lifestyle, I would say that it represents simple ling at its finest. In fact, it encourages me to follow the saying “live simple so that others may simply live.”
Though I know that the memories will fade over time, I hope that I will always abide by the lessons I have learned here in Tanzania. I think I will always remember Tanzania as a country that has beautiful landscape, amazing animals, crazy driving, and, most importantly, kindhearted people. This country will forever hold a special place in my heart and I know that I will make every effort to return here so that I may continue to be amazed by the wonders of Tanzania.