lessons learned

I cannot sum up everything that I have learned here because the list goes on and on. However there are a few things that have stuck out to me about the daily life here in Arusha. First, time. The community here is very relaxed unlike the industrialized, hectic life in America. Here, Tanzanian people run on “Tanzanian” time which means they show up when they show up. Coming from America where being early is on time, on time is late and late is just not acceptable, getting use to the idea that you can tell someone a time and then not expect them for at least thirty minutes after that time. For example, at school, class starts in the morning at 8:00am and a bell goes off every 35 minutes to change classes. At the school though, teachers most of the time will show up five to ten minutes after classes has officially started. With short classes, it makes it hard to teacher all the lesson in 15-20 minutes but that is the way that things are run around here.

When it comes to planning things outside of school, time is run the same way. Last week a few of us invited our teachers out to dinner at The Outpost where we are all staying. We told our teachers that dinner would be at 6:00pm. To us we were thinking that they would show up anywhere between 5:50 and 6:15. We were wrong. My school had one teacher show up at 5:55pm and then the rest just not show up at all. Another school had teachers show up anywhere from 6:15-7:30pm (almost an hour and a half past when we told them to show). To me, the idea that people do not worry about time management and showing up to events, classes, etc. when they are scheduled to start is crazy and I am still trying to get used to it four weeks in. However, patience is something that we have been learning very quickly since day one of this trip and patience with time is one of the most important things that I have learned.

Besides being patient with timely arrivals, I have also learned that football is more than just a sport to people here. Futbol is a way of life, a religion, a following. Futbol (soccer) as it is called here is always on the T.V’s everywhere you look and at all hours of the day. Students give weekly reports at the schools on the results of the big games every day of the week. Also at school, “sports” time or P.E. for the boys is always a warm-up game and then 20-30 minutes of futbol. In addition, boys young and old all praise the sport. They wear jerseys, talk about their favorite teams, and ask me to show them how good I am since I have played some of boys at school. However, outside of school, when we visit the orphanage, talk to locals on the streets or even our drivers through town, whenever I ask them if they play, they ALWAYS say yes. For the girls their answers vary, as sports for women here is not the same as it is in America, but overall, the idea that futbol is a way of life and is a following for all people is a common thread you see wherever you go. To me it has been a great way to interact and talk with students and locals as I have experience playing soccer but it also has been interesting to talk about with people here because in America we do not praise just one sport but many sports. Learning and understanding the way of life here in Tanzania has been very important to connecting with the people here. I cannot believe that my time here is almost up, but what I have learned about myself and the community here will be forever be engrained in who I am.

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