Beans, Bananas and Bills: Learning and Living in Tanzania
By Danille Kobet
I never imagined that spending three weeks at the end of the earth, or the village of Kayanga in the Kagera region of rural Tanzania with Amizade, would be the best experience I’ve ever had in my life.
But it was.
Dirt roads. Limited electricity and water supply. No radio, television, movies, email, instant messaging, or cell phones. Beans, rice, potatoes and bananas twice a day every day.
I may have been there to help lay the foundation for an AIDS orphanage, but in the process I was able to take part in a wide array of meaningful activities.
I played soccer with children at the Uganda-Tanzania border, danced with a choir at church, and met the Bishop of the village.
I was fortunate enough to eat dinner and arm-wrestle Massai warriors. I also witnessed a caesarian section (and paid the $13.50 hospital bill for the procedure).
I sang songs with secondary school students, played “duck-duck-goose” and other games with village children, learned Swahili, and so much more. A three-day safari in the Serengeti concluded the African expedition.
The average salary for a villager is less than $100 per year (less than $1.00 per day) and they suffer from a high AIDS epidemic and other diseases, like Malaria; yet their happy souls and attitudes are far richer than any I’ve ever witnessed.Learning about and living in a new part of the world for three weeks was a priceless experience. Cultural stereotypes were broken down, friendships were built up, and new understandings were had by all.
On this trip I’ve learned that music, laughter, love, and caring feelings are universal. We all laugh and we all cry, both of which I did during the emotional eye-opening experience.
I’ve never met more hard-working, driven, uplifting, kind and welcoming people than I have in Kayanga. I have never seen stars shine so bright or a more awe-inspiring sunrise compared to what I observed in Tanzania.
In a tiny village that many people could not locate on a map, a bond has been built between Americans and Tanzanians, emphasizing that global service learning is about far more than a grade received, or a project completed. What we can do as humans is bond with, and learn from, other humans on this great earth.
The market in a rural village in Tanzania.
I look forward to the day that I will return to Kayanga to continue serving and learning, but until that day, I continue to keep the village on my mind and in my heart.
Is global service-learning for you? Do you have a desire to apply your academic knowledge to the real world, serve a community, build intercultural relationships and challenge yourself? Each Amizade Center course is built with the following unique and innovative elements. If they intrigue you, an Amizade Center course is for you!
Global service-learning courses powerfully integrate academic content with cross-cultural service experiences. Classes may incorporate everything from a traditional classroom lecture to a community member lecture held in a sugar cane field; a traditional final paper assignment to a journal assignment on the meaning of activism in your life; a formal class presentation to participation in a community talent show. Your academic knowledge will deepen in conjunction with the experience of serving a community.Academic Coursework
Be prepared to study, research, present, write, and stretch yourself in new ways to apply academic concepts to the complex issues of the real world.
Cultural Immersion and Exchange
The opportunity to live immersed in a culture is a momentous and rewarding experience. As a student and volunteer in a community, you will have the unique chance to interact with different populations of the culture such as farmers, community activists, religious figures, professionals, children and local students.
Your mind, body and spirit will be stimulated with recreational trips to local sites of attraction. Visit the Andes mountains, the Bolivian rainforests, the African Serengeti Plain, the Amazon, the Grand Canyon, the Irish coast and more.
Visit Amizade’s website for more information.
Amizade encourages intercultural other needed community structures exploration and understanding through community-driven service-learning courses and volunteer programs.
Service through Community Partnership
Service can take many forms on a global service-learning course but it will always involve a meaningful, community-driven project as an essential component of the course. Service project examples:
- Building schools, orphanages, or Tutoring children
- Aiding hospitals
- Developing promotional videos for community organizations
- Teaching technology
The service project is developed in partnership with community members who have determined a vital need and have the means to maintain sustainability of the project. On a global service-learning course, you will develop a new appreciation for the power of partnering to meet community needs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit Amizade Global Service Learning
920 William Pitt Union
Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA
FAX (412) 648-1492 Volunteer@amizade.org
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