It’s a funny thing how perspectives change. They change even by the very slightest of circumstances. Even by just taking one step. One step and I was already on a plane. One step and everything already seemed as if it were behind me, done.
While starting on the first flight of my 3-leg travel home, I was casually flipping through pictures and the minute I saw one from our final LTP exhibition, I got really sad about leaving.
Up to this point, I was ready to head home. I had seen my time in Tanzania as successful. I felt like I had learned a lot, so, I was ready to go home and see my family. I was ready to leave it all in the past, for it to be a memory… I was ready until I saw this picture.
I don’t know why it was this photo but it hit me how much I will miss this place. Tanzania is somewhere I can say feels a bit like another home. Now, technically looking back at it already, separated from it all, I can really appreciate how unique and incredible an experience it was. I realized I learned so much more than I even thought about before, because I was caught up in stress and the busyness of our work.
But above all of that, I learned how to integrate into a new culture and I learned about how incredibly difficult it is. I learned about the kinds of barriers I would face trying to enter in; namely language, cultural, racial, etc.
I learned that group dynamics could be more difficult than I had expected. But I also learned from those hard group dynamics about when I should speak up, when I should stay quiet to listen, and how to be more cognizant of word choice.
From schools, I learned how helpful structure could be, but also the importance of allowing students to be creative and generate their own ideas through problem-solving.
From our community partner Pelle, I learned that even if we speak the same language, there can be a lot that is lost in translation.
From my new friend Zahra, I learned that sometimes you have to look hard to find the people you will love the most.
From our driver Hassan, I learned how language and verbal communication is important but not always necessary for relationships to grow.
And from a staff person at Kundayo Apartments, Agape, I learned to value everything in life, and to see things in a positive light always, for what is the point in seeing a glass as half empty?
So, I just want to say thank you. Thank you Tanzania for all the wonderful things I have been able to learn. Thank you to all of the amazing people there for welcoming me in. Thank you Katie and Kamal for leading our group in such a respectful and open-minded fashion. Thank you to my classmates for working well together and getting through tough situations. And thank you DukeEngage for providing me with this opportunity.
Kwaheri, Tanzania, nitakukosa wewe lakini tutaonana tena.
Goodbye, Tanzania, I will miss you but we will meet again.