Sunday, May 11, 2008

All in a day's learning!

Emily D.
After a hot night under mosquito nets, we woke to face freezing showers, a delicious breakfast at our headquarters, and our first glimpse of Africa. We soon found out that all we had to do was turn on the water heater and the problem was instantly fixed. We convened for a short meeting with Dr. Moshi where we learned some helpful phrases in Swahili such as hello (Hujambo), how are you (habari gani) and, most importantly, no thank you (hapana asante). This would be very helpful throughout the day.

With out guide, Yasin, we set off to explore the nearby town of Moshi. On the way there, we were able to witness everything we missed on the ride in the night before: the lush landscape, the people walking everywhere with colorful clothing, and the women carrying everything on their heads!

When we got to Moshi, immediately there were people everywhere who wanted to sell us stuff. And, of course, everything was painted or made themselves!! The people were very friendly and always willing to help us with our struggling Swahili.

Yasin showed us their first hospital, explaining that a private hospital visit costs about $4, which most cannot afford. This was a reality check to us American students where $4 can seem like nothing. We also saw their court system, which to compare to our American buildings would be impossible. The pride they seem to have for their judicial system is refreshing, but once again a reality check to us American students whose courthouses tower over the towns.

In the towns and on the bus ride home, children came from everywhere if you pulled out candy. I am sure everyone wishes they had brought a suitcase full after seeing some of their excited faces.

We experienced our first African lunch, which to our delight included -- pizza! Afterwards, Mama Zara, the owner of Zara Tours (, shared her story with us. The unique thing about Mama Zara is that she is not only successful in business, but she is a successful woman. The challenges she had to overcome seem ridiculous to the few of us American women. It definitely made us appreciate the opportunities that are always available to us. We discussed the potential of her business, while also analyzing the challenges.

Mama Zara also shared with us the Tanzanian concept of being firstly a Tanzanian. This is why everyone seems to bond together. Her idea of working, which probably adds to her success, is working hands-on with all of her staff. We also learned how much she gives back to the community.

Our last lecture of the day, at er tea time, included a political science professor from the local college. We were fortunate enough to receive a new perspective on how Africa's past, especially the exploitation of colonization, has affected the current economic and political problems facing Tanzania.

All together, today, we have received a preview of the culture, business, political beginning and daily life of those in Tanzania. All this, and it's only the first day!!

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