Lasting Impressions: If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

Lasting Impressions 6.2

If you give a mouse a cookie, it’s going to want some milk to go with it.

I think that this children’s book describes Americans perfectly. Americans are always wanting and taking more and more. They are never grateful for what they have right in front of them. In some ways, such as striving for higher education, this is a good thing. But mostly Americans are ungrateful and focused on material possessions. We can never appreciate what is right in front of us.

Tanzanians, however, appreciate every little thing. Even though I was in a very privileged school, I still heard a fifteen voices say “thank you teacher” every time I passed out a paper or pencil or tiny eraser. Every time I taught a lesson or even just observed the teacher and headmaster would thank me multiple times. On our last day of school, Katherine brought in dried fruit and almonds that she had brought with her but hadn’t finished. The teachers were so incredibly thankful for leftover food! When I left I gave my remaining supplies to the headmaster and teacher that I worked with and both of them thanked me multiple times and shook my hand. Every time we left a tip somewhere we ate the server was sure to thank us at least once.

The Tanzanians never complain. I don’t think I ever heard an individual complain the entire time that I was there. When the power would go out, no one would make a fuss. My students wouldn’t even say a word, but would just get up and open the curtains. When it rained for five days in a row I didn’t hear any complaining. While on safari the drivers never complained about having to drive for ten hours straight. When we hiked Kilimanjaro in the pouring rain the guides never complained once.

Americans lead such a privileged life compared to the Tanzanians. We have so much more, yet we complain almost nonstop. I have so much more than the Tanzanians have. Not just in money or possessions, but in opportunities as well. I have a family and a job and I am able to go to a university. If I want to switch jobs or careers I can do so. Our schools, hospitals, colleges, and stores are the best that money can buy. The people in Tanzania don’t always have these luxuries. I feel like I can never complain about anything ever again because I already have so much more than what others have.

I learned so much while in Tanzania and I miss it even more. It’s hard to put into words just how much I miss it there and how incredibly thankful I am for the best four weeks of my life.

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