Tanzania has made a major change/difference in my life. There are so many lasting impressions that this experience has left on my life. It doesn’t even seem real that I was just in another country for a whole month/4 weeks. Everyone here keeps saying, “Wow your back already!” When I think about it, I feel like I was just here but when I was there it felt like forever. I am currently in the process of making my photo albums for all of my pictures, which constantly brings back the amazing memories.
Being home has really been a BIG change. I am still having trouble sleeping because my body naturally wakes up at 5am thinking its lunch time or feeling like I should be doing something more than sleeping. However, I feel amazing to not wake up every 5 minutes to dogs barking and howling in the middle of the night. So there are many things that I am excited to be away from, but there are so many more things that I am really missing. I really miss waking up and seeing the happy people at the Out-Post and on the streets. My friend that was always at the end of Serengeti road would always tell me good morning and ask how I was doing. I never thought I would say this but I actually miss out walk to Arusha Primary School every morning. Going up the hill was never fun but in the end that walk just made you feel good early in the morning. So now my dog and I go for our walks in the morning around my subdivision to make up for my morning Tanzania walks. It’s definitely not the same without seeing the amazing people on the streets but I am adjusting.
When we were in Tanzania, I had a really hard time teaching because of the behavior management situation. So I really didn’t think that the teaching made an impression on my life; but little did I know I have missed those kids more than anything. I have told every person that will listen about each and every one of my students. I had my students (2nd standard/grade) write me a letter about something that they liked most about my teaching. I have read the letters multiple times and my heart melts every time. Thinking about how much the kids loved and welcomed us as visiting teachers every morning and how much they just loved to play and talk with us really over shines the struggle of the behavior issues. Those kids made an ever-lasting impression on my life and my heart and I will never forget this amazing teaching and overall experience.
Science in Tanzania: Two
I was finally able to teach a lot of science during my last two weeks in Tanzania. Teaching upper level physics and biology was difficult! The content was a little outside of my grasp and what I am used to. The physics and biology courses that I took at GV were only content courses, not pedagogy classes. Respiration and motion were things that I could recall the concepts, but I was never given ways to teach it. Trying to come up with ways to teach these subjects in a fun hands-on approach was difficult.
The students in Tanzania are not used to having a lot of freedom in their education and are not used to thinking critically, participating in discussions, or working in groups. The Form II students that I taught were Sam and Sarah’s students. They are GVSU graduates that have been living and teaching in Tanzania since December. They have done an amazing job of helping their students learn how to think critically and work cooperatively. There are still some issues with these aspects of education and so that makes teaching in an interactive way difficult sometimes.
I was also able to teach a few science lessons with my standard 6 students. We had been covering adaptations and habitats and I was able to do a few lessons with that as well as start a unit on natural resources. Only one or two of these lessons were planned, the rest were things that I developed on the spot.
Overall, I think that the students were able to work together in a beneficial way and think critically about the concepts of respiration and motion. I think that the lessons went well although they could have gone better. I liked being able to actually teach a variety of science topics with different age groups.
Being back at home took some adjusting, especially with the time zone. But after a couple days, I’m back in my routine. It feels odd. My summer jobs do not start until next week, so I feel as if I’m just waiting around for something to happen. I miss being busy and feeling productive. Next week, I’ll be so happy to have a work schedule and not be sitting around wondering what to do. I keep looking back on the trip and it’s still surreal that it happened and everything I got to do.
It’s reminded me of how privileged I am. Not just that I got to go on a trip to Africa, but just everything I have here at home. Each morning I can have a hot shower, I can drink the tap water, I can have whatever I want to eat, I have reliable internet and electricity, and I can drive myself to wherever I need to go. I don’t have to worry about clean water, food, and shelter. I have it all and then some. It’s odd looking in our fridge at lunch time and seeing all the food options after not regularly eating lunch. I have pens and pencils and rulers shoved in drawers not being used and the children I taught didn’t always have one. If I need anything, I can go out and buy it for myself. It’s reminded me to be thankful for all I have and limit my complaining.
I also just to want to travel. I want to see more of the world. I’ve always wanted to travel, this has just made the desire stronger. I want to revisit the places I saw as a child and travel to the list of places I’ve always wanted to go. I want to see and experience different cultures and people and foods and places. I want to teach aboard again as well. Maybe one day I’ll return to Tanzania and revisit the school I taught at. I’d love to do so and possibly have the chance to see some of my past students.
Again, it feels odd being home. I’m happy to be home, but it feels different. Perhaps because my perspective is different now. I’m so thankful for this trip and all it’s allowed me to do and I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned into my life.
It’s crazy to me that I left Tanzania a week ago. Since I’ve been back things feel weird. It feels like a dream and that the trip didn’t happen. But then when I share my pictures or stories with people then I get the reality feeling that I really was in Tanzania for almost a month and having a great experience. I also miss the people I went with. It’s weird not seeing them after seeing them every day for a month straight. I am also missing the kiddos like crazy. Being back at work and seeing the kids there just makes me think of the kids in Tanzania and how I wish they were here with me.
After being home I have a whole new outlook and perspective on how I want to live my life here in America. Tanzania is so happy with what so little they have. I see too many people here that are un-happy and they have so much more than what they need. So I am telling myself the next time that I am stressed, upset, or going through something, that the people in Tanzania are most likely going through things much worse than me. I’m a lot more positive and not letting the little things bother me, because there is no reason to be negative all the time with how much I am blessed.
Tanzania taught me how strong I can be and how confident I really am when I am put in situations outside of my comfort zone. Before I went to Tanzania I was dealing with anxiety and now that I have came back I no longer have those feelings. I now know that I can do anything! I want to keep traveling but I know that by doing this experience I gained so much. I know now a different education system and have more experience being in front of a classroom even though I have not done Teacher Assisting yet. Can’t wait to continue to share my experience with people 🙂 But I am missing it there a lot..
It is nearly impossible to put into words how incredible the past month in Tanzania was. A month ago I was feeling just about every emotion as I was preparing and today I am feeling like I am out of place back in America. Tanzania is a place that will forever hold a special place in my heart. Since I had to be at camp the next morning after returning home it has been extremely difficult to actually sit and process the past month and also to explain to people just how life changing my experience was. I have been finding it difficult to put everything into words. I truly believe that in order for people to actually understand, they need to experience a trip like this for themselves.
The atmosphere and environment in Tanzania is something indescribable and is a lifestyle so different than here in America. I can definitely say that Tanzanians are some of the most genuine and kind-hearted people I have ever met. They may not have a lot, but what they do have is constant smiles on their faces and conversations that will make your day. Each and every Tanzanian are grateful for what they do have and even when things may not be going as they hope you never will hear a single complaint. Life in Tanzania is so relaxed and people live a lifestyle where their daily schedules are not filled with appointments, meetings, activities, and so on. They are not stressed about making sure they accomplish everything on their to-do list and are not running from thing to thing. They enjoy their day and what they have to do, but do not stress or worry at all. It was definitely good for me because I am usually the type of person that has way to many things to accomplish throughout the day and a to-do list a mile long.
Experiencing the Special Education School at Jaffery’s was something that I will never forget. Since even getting to see the school and meeting the students was a challenge in itself, it was terrific when we found out that we could finally help out in the school for a few days. The headmaster at this school is the most inspirational woman I have ever met. She had a dream less than 10 years ago to open a school for students with disabilities and she did just that. She has an enormous amount of passion for what she does and is continuously pushing for things that are going to better her students. She also is the most self-less and dedicated woman. She is doing anything and everything she can possibly do to not only ensure that her students are being taken care of, but also spreading awareness and encouraging people to advocate for people with disabilities.
Overall, experiencing Tanzania is something that I will never forget and will be something that I know I will be talking about for years and years to come. I would absolutely love to go back one day and be able to experience it all over again.
This trip has changed me in so many different ways, some that I cannot even put into words. But one thing I can say is that it continues to change me even though we have been home for almost a week.
One of the things that this trip has shown me is how much crap I have that I do not need. The day after I got back my room was a disaster because I had not finished moving back home before leaving plus I had everything I brought back from the trip. And so that day I went through everything and took out the things that I don’t use regularly and I plan to donate it to Goodwill. While in Tanzania I saw that the people there have very little compared to what we have here and yet they are happy, happier than most Americans. Here in the U.S., we are all different levels of hoarders, some worst than other. And so I am going to continue to narrow down what I keep because in reality I don’t need half the stuff I have and there is always some one out there who does.
Before leaving for Arica I always generally had 2 things on my mind: my weight/appearance and my lack of companions/friends. While on our trip these things hardly ever crossed my mind. After I came back it was like slipping on a glove, I immediately came back into my old worries. At first I just accepted it because I thought that they must be inevitable, but today (almost a week after we have returned), I have realized that in reality it is just more stuff that I don’t need. This time it is just mental crap instead of physical crap. And so I will be doing my best to shed my mental “things” along with my physical.
The last thing that I am going to talk about is what I do what to keep in my life. In my case absence really does make the heart grow fonder. While I was going I had very little contact with my family and boyfriend. Now that I am back I have been able to see just how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do. I have an amazing boyfriend who loves me, and therefore I need to stop focusing on his flaws. I have parents who encourage me in everything that I do, even going on a crazy trip to Africa for a month. A brother who looks up to me and is becoming more of the person that I want to be than I am. A sister who is supports me in all that I do. And an extended family that is just about the best people you want to be surrounded by.
All in all this trip was incredible and it has changed me in ways I still don’t even understand. But I think the main lesson I have learned and what I am now striving for can be summed up in the Zac Brown Band lyric, “I have everything I need and nothing that I don’t.”