Study Abroad


May 23, 2017

Habari, happy Sunday!

So far the beginning of this experience has been so wonderful in every aspect. Being my first time out of the country, I was expecting to have more of a culture shock when getting here, especially without the use of a cell phone. Surprisingly, it's really nice to not have to worry about being places or answering other people. It's a completely different experience to be surrounded by people without electronics. There has been time to reflect on the trip so far and life after Tanzania.

Even though we did not have classes at school today, I have been thinking of the individual experiences that have happened this week. My favorite so far has been interactions with a 4th grader named Esta. The first day we arrived, I was bending down to ask students their name. I met Esta during one of the interactions, then she happened to be one of the students in a small group I teach with another student from Lasell. She is such a bright young lady and is able to help other students in her group with English instructions by translating them in Swahili. Everyday she finds me when we are on the field for recess and her smile makes me smile. The second day at the school, Esta played with us in the circle and she had a tin of pens that kept falling from under her arm. I asked her if I could hold her tin in my pocket and she nodded at me. During the time on the playground she stayed close, but it was a great feeling to know she trusted me to help hold her tin. It's hard to picture from home, but the children here have very little, so I felt very honored being trusted with one of Esta's personal possessions.

Some of us had the opportunity to attend church this morning in Iringa with Dan and his family. The congregation is made up of people who live in the area, but mostly people who identify as expatriates.  The church building sat about a hundred people, and it was full by the time the service started. Surprisingly, the service was very similar to a church service at home. First, during the announcements, people in the congregation were so friendly and a couple families invited the rest of the congregation over different days of the upcoming week. Next, we sang, then individuals in the congregation got up to read some scripture lessons. Tina, Dan's wife explained to me that the congregation is run by a committee, so another member of the congregation gave the sermon. There is no minister of the church. At the end of the service, a family who was going to be traveling for a couple weeks stood up in front of the congregation while other members of the congregation went around the family to pray for their safe travels. It was probably the most welcoming and close community of people I have ever witnessed.

Dan was able to tell me about a boy named Kelvin who is friends with his son Seth. Dan said that Tina met Kelvin at a market where he was working at the age of 14. He had dropped out of school to help with the financial income, but he had not been paid in 6 months so quit his job at the market. Kalvin's family was the poorest in the village. Since Dan and Tina have met Kelvin, they have helped the family to build and move into a house and provide an education for Kalvin. He is 16 now, and too old to go back to school. Although Seth and Kelvin are good friends, it has also been helpful for Seth to hang out with Kelvin because he is able to help him learn Swahili. Dan, Tina and the rest of their family are such amazing people and I can't wait to get to know them even more while we are here.

If it's one thing that interests me in Tanzania, it's the laws. First of all, on our way here we got stopped at a check point in the middle of a highway. They have numerous check points where they can pullover anyone they want to. During the first time we got stopped, we got a ticket because not everyone had their seat belts on. Dan was able to tell me about some of the laws and how things work around here. The police don't have cars, so that is why they have check points. He said that there is no real justice served because ultimately the government is just trying to get money. Most of the time natives will bribe the police officer out of the ticket. The way he described it is, "They give out so many tickets, You could get a ticket for having gum on the bottom of your shoe." Another aspect of law that Dan told me about was on owning property. In Tanzania no one owns their land, the government does. When they build a house, they own the house, but not outside of where they build. It's a very interesting concept and being a criminal justice major, I am curious to learn more about the laws here.

Lastly, on Sunday night we were able to visit Dan and his families house as well as Bibi's house. They are both absolutely beautiful inside and out. The view of the mountains and surrounding nature is absolutely unreal. Dan and a crew of seven other professionals built both his house and Bibi's in 6 months. We all told them they should go on a tv show to tour the houses, which is probably not possible because they are actually off the grid. I can't even explain the houses individual beauty. While in Mimi's house, she told us a little about her very interesting life. She has lived in different countries in Africa and was a midwife for a very long time. She spoke very highly of Jesus, but was also able to tell us about her experience with the devil. She also told us about her experience in Zambia and how dangerous it was before she left. I could listen to Bibi talk all day because she has such an interesting life to share.

Overall, this experience makes me want to travel more and has me a little confused on what I want to do post graduation. Starting Monday, we have lots of lesson plans to prepare for the upcoming week with lots more experiences! I'm looking forward to the rest of the week and can't wait to get back to see family and friends!