Monday, January 16, 2012
Africa (Blog 5): A Letter to Family and Friends
(Slang for “Hello”, response is “Poa”, which means “Cool” in English)
I hope everyone is doing great! I miss you all! I can’t believe I am a half a world away from all my family and friends…and can still connect through the internet!
Anyway, I wanted to give everyone a quick update on how things are going and what I’ve been up to:
First off, things are going nzuri sana (very good)! Sorry for all the Swahili words, I need to practice a bit…okay, maybe a lot. Anyway, the other volunteers a really wonderful. There’s a few girls and one boy around my age/ a few years younger, and 3 older women…one is in her 70’s and has traveled all over the world! The Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) staff is equally wonderful. They are all from near or around Tanzania, and speak very good English. Our rooms are quite nice as well, we even have hot showers. Every day, we are served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which are so good that well all requested a cooking lesson before we leave.
Africa is beautiful. The trees are beautiful, the plants are beautiful, the mountains (Kilimanjaro) is beautiful, and the people are beautiful. The roads are usually busy with life and people (including children running freely around), and guess what? People say “Hi” (or actually “Jambo” “Habari” or “Shikamoo”- to elders) to each other! I don’t think I could go more than 5 mintues without someone saying hi or trying to talk. When was the last time you walked down the street in the city and someone, anyone said “hi”? Actually, you can even freely go to your neighbor’s house and they will welcome you in, not call the cops (yes, we did this).
As for volunteering, I am at Step Up Center, a pre-k/nursery school. You know what? Those kids are smart! They can say there ABCs and count to wwwaaayyy past 10…in English! Yes, they speak Swahili much better, but still, speaking another language at 4 (4-6) years old is amazing (a lot of the locals speak very good English- I don’t feel as smart anymore!). Plus, they sing a ton of the same songs we do in America. We had a speaker come talk about the education system here the other day, I guess the main drawback comes when switching schools and the language barriers. I am still trying to find my place at the school, or how I can be useful, but Im sure Ill get there in a few days. The kids are absolutely awesome. But, they do lack a lot of resources. No markers, work books, coloring books, glue, crayons, paper, or air conditioning, water fountains, tvs, or, in one class room, a tiled floor. I’ve tried to find some of the materials at stores myself and the best I came up with is a small pack of colored pencils.
Thursday was a holiday for Zanzibar, so there was no school and we went to one of the many local orphanages. It was one of the best experiences of my life. These kids had nothing…almost no toys (1 soccer ball to split among 52 and some books and crayons), ragged clothes, little food, no whatever kids have these days, and…no parents. Yet, there smiles could light up the world. (Its funny…there’s adults who have EVERYTHING, well every materialistic thing you could think of, and they’re still unhappy. These kids have next to nothing, and they spread their joy to everyone. Some would say that’s because they don’t know any better…and that could be true…but even if it is, they’re still the happy ones. I do think happiness can be found anywhere in life, and most people know this. So really, I think it is much worse that most of us/or wealthier people do know better, but they ignore this knowledge and try to get happiness with $.) And, these kids were smart too! They were teaching me Swahili! We also sang a song in Swahili in a circle where one person had to go in and sing…of course I was picked, but luckily the little boy next to me went with me and helped! Later, they were singing “Lean on Me”. It was so precious. I also had the privilege to meet a future Teacher, Pilot, and Artist.
Well, it’s close to bedtime (9:15) so I need to get some rest for tomorrow. Usually I run between 3-5 miles at dawn (and people are already filling the street-people carrying water, off to work, children to school), eat, get ready, and go to volunteer. AND, WE ARE LEAVING FOR A WEEKEND SAFARI TOMORROW! I’ll tell you more about it later J
Lala Salama (Sleep Well),