I have much more to say about the Journey to Tanzania than I can adequately share in one post like this, but for the time being, I will sum it up as best I can while more details will have to come out from my pictures and in the posts to follow. For now, all I can say is WOW. Tanzania, you are so much more than I ever could have imagined. The CIA World Factbook taught me statistics; you showed me faces, let me hold their hands, gave me a family, and allowed me to see that you are endlessly more complex than any research could have prepared me for.
For the first two weeks of our trip, we took classes with OU professors in Social Work and Social Justice while learning basic Kiswahili from instructors at the school in Arusha. This was also the part of the trip where we spent the most time with our host families. Life in Usa River, the suburb of Arusha, was different from family to family, but I think we can all say we are beyond grateful for the experience. We learned easily as much from our families as we did in class each day. It was an invaluable experience that I will never forget!
We took a “field trip”for our safari over the weekend between our two weeks of class. This once again will require a separate post just to describe the overwhelming beauty that is the Ngorongoro crater. We were sad to leave, but happy to be reunited with our host families at the end!
Following the conclusion of our classes, we began our travels to Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. In Zanzibar, we got to go snorkeling, see tortoises five times older than ourselves, tour Stone Town and a spice farm, and eat food from an incredible street market that opened up just after sunset each night for those who had been fasting for Ramadan. After a couple short days, we took a rocky ferry over to Dar, the business capital of Tanzania, for tours of agencies relating to our coursework, exploring, and a little more beach time. Though we could never have a full picture of Tanzania, spending time in each of the four locations– Usa River, Arusha, Dar, and Zanzibar– really opened our eyes to the diversity which exists. within this great country
At the conclusion of our time in Dar, we headed back to Arusha by bus to begin the goodbyes with our families, but only after one last field trip to the base of Kilimanjaro to hike and see waterfalls. After a fun celebration, we went back to our host families’ houses for one last night together before parting ways. As expected, the trip went way too quickly and the goodbyes brought many tears from the students and families alike. The relationships we got to build were by far the most rewarding part of the trip, and I will cherish these people and my memories of their welcoming spirit forever!