Lasting Impressions

I honestly can’t believe how fast the past month flew by! There are so many things I’m already missing about Tanzania. One thing I’ve been missing since we landed in Amsterdam is the relaxed atmosphere. I honestly haven’t felt any stress since I’ve been in Tanzania. Teaching wasn’t stressful because the school schedule and atmosphere is so much more lax than ours in America. There wasn’t stress to have the perfect lesson plan or the perfect management techniques; it was really the perfect opportunity for me to test out what I’ve been learning the past three years because there was no one judging my every decision. Originally, I was expecting to be stressed out and intimidated walking through town. I was under the impression that walking around the city would be unsafe; however, that is not the case whatsoever. The people in Tanzania were so friendly and relaxed; I can’t comment enough about how relaxed everything in Tanzania was. I truly believe that the Tanzanians would never have intentions of physically hurting me, or anyone. Because many of them are so poor they will do what they can to get some cash, but they would never do something that would physically harm me.  In America, you never know who could pull out a gun or a knife just walking through downtown Grand Rapids; that is never a worry here.

The people I met in Tanzania have definitely made a lasting impression. From the people on the streets to the kids in my class, I miss them all. The conversations I had in Tanzania are unlike ones I will ever experience in America. Our lifestyles are so different; it’s so interesting to have exchanges about these cultural differences. They are interested in my life and I’m interested in theirs. The kids in my class are so interested in seeing pictures of my family and Michigan and I love showing them these. People at home just aren’t interested in hearing about these things.

One feeling I had while in Tanzania that I miss is feeling like I have a purpose. In Tanzania I felt so utilized and meaningful. My knowledge and skills were so cherished and valued; I felt like I was making a difference. At home, although I know my life has meaning, I don’t necessarily feel like my gifts and talents are being used to their full potential. I’m just like every other white American studying to be an elementary school teacher. The things we accomplished in Tanzania truly made an impact on the community, the schools, and the people. Although I know I can make an impact in America as well, those impacts just aren’t quite as obvious.

This experience has been absolutely life changing.  It’s hard to sum up the things that have made lasting impressions. I truly feel that I am a different person today because of the things I’ve experienced and learned from this trip. Tanzania will forever hold a special place in my heart.

-Sierra

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