“I didn’t die!” I yelled as we made it back to Arusha home successfully after a one week trip to Pangani. That had become a motto of the trip for me after I survived a treacherous three hour boat ride on the River Pangani (My lack of ability to swim made this quite the feat for me). It was nice to be home. And it was nice to call those cozy Kundayo Apartments home after only three weeks. That’s where my kitchen was—the one in which I learned how to cook good pasta for the first time. That’s where my toaster was with which I made PBJs every morning for breakfast. That’s where my Horcrux Mikey, the cutest, fattest one and a half year-old toddler in all of Tanzania, was. That’s where my real bed was, and oh man did my body realize it after the one I’d slept on for a week. I needed the entirety of Monday to be able to bend my back properly again (and more importantly continue with LTP committee work), before embarking a few hours inland to Babati for a two-day teacher’s workshop starting Tuesday.
In Babati, we worked with about 35 primary school teachers who taught around the area. The teachers were divided into 8 groups, with each group doing half of a visual alphabet on the topics of vocational skills, mathematics, science, and sports. The teachers in my group taught sports at their respective schools, so they were eager to adopt a new teaching method … until they found out I was 19, the age of some of their youngest children. It was frustrating to deal with a lack of participation from some teachers, but I have tried to accept that the age hierarchy is a cultural barrier that is hard to overcome. Regardless of the gap, the teachers came up with some great pictures of sports.
A relatively easy Thursday and Friday back in Arusha were much needed after an unusually tiring time in Babati. On Thursday, we were at Arusha School during the school day for the first time, which was amazing because I worked with some of my after-school kids, and I also did not need to establish leadership because I was already well-respected by them. This made for a stress free day in a familiar environment. On Friday, we observed two classes at Shalom School, a very organized, private school in Arusha where we will be working in a couple of weeks. I realized that Shalom was the first time that I really got to see how classes were typically taught in Tanzania – the students have classwork, practice problems, and homework, and quizzes and tests just as I did growing up. The teachers were kind, the students were respectful, and the atmosphere made me eager to teach there.
Saturday was the extremely anticipated Mt. Kilimanjaro base hike. “Mt. Kilimanjaro”. “Hike”. The most we hiked at Kili was from the bathroom to the bat caves, which were at a lower elevation than the bathrooms. We sneaked in a quick picture with the Kili sign and our Duke flag though so maybe we can tell our friends and family that Kili was majestic, whereas the truth will be that we did not even see the peak because of the clouds. However, we did visit two waterfalls that provided for an exciting (but still scary because again, I cannot swim) time.
On Sunday, we had the lucky opportunity to learn how to cook at one of the most delicious home-cooked-esque restaurants in Arusha, Mirapot Restaurant. We made chapatti, coconut rice, beans, pumpkin leaves, and some other foods that I should have written the names of to remember. Of course the food was delicious, but what I really enjoyed about this activity was the memories it brought because as a kid – let’s be real I’m still a kid – as a pre-teen, I used to make chapatti with my mom all the time and she would always say I was doing a great job no matter how rectangular my chapatti looked. I miss her. And my dad. It was his birthday on Saturday, and the rest of my Duke Engage crew came up with the idea to sing him happy birthday in front of the Kili sign. Unluckily for him, I am lazy and forgetful, so the video did not happen. Luckily for him, I will make it up to him with a video of my Arusha School kids singing instead (sorry crew, they’re cuter).
I have now been in Tanzania for four weeks, which marks the halfway point of this trip. It is crazy to think that in just under a month, I will be back home in Colorado. Time has gone by too fast, but at the same time I feel like I have been here forever. I have learned enough Swahili to carry out a short conversation, bought kangas, eaten Tanzanian food, embraced the idea of LTP, befriended locals, and formed so many bonds with so many children which were all goals I had coming in. And to think, I still have four more weeks to feel weak for Tanzania.