Around two weeks ago is when I was getting on the plane to come to Tanzania Africa.
The first night we spent in Arusha, where I met the people I will be living with for the next four months. I was surprised that out of the group of around 35 individuals 6 were guys, and the rest girls! Although the dynamic works really well! It seems like pretty much everyone gets along although we all have our differences. It seemed we all felt like we knew each other even after the first day. The SFS Moyo Hill camp is in a town called Rhotia, which is a small village of about 1000 people. It’s primarily an agricultural village. Going into town many people say hello, or “mambo!” This is especially true for the children! Every time I leave camp to go into town, or for field excursions, or even on a run I have kids waving and smiling giving me hugs and high fives. They are all very exciting to talk to anyone! People in the village let kids have more freedom, and no one is a stranger and it takes the village to raise a child. Everyone is friendly and greets everyone. Although it has very much felt like we get constant stares as we stick out from the locals! Hopefully learning more Swahili will help us create deeper connections to the local people.
On campus we have clubs we have started which all sounded so fun so I am getting involved in a few! I am in a painting club (where will we paint our houses in accordance to their animal names), athletic club, volunteering at the primary school club, hiking club, yoga club, and more! So far we have been playing a lot of soccer with the community- something I am really awful at. Although, I thoroughly enjoy the experience of being able to spend time with the staff here and other locals.
Many cultural aspects are much different here! I knew this would be this way, so no big shock coming here, although I wasn’t quite sure what everything would be like. First off we must dress very modestly, that means we must have chest and shoulders covered, and skirts or shorts down to the knees! There are also tailors in town where you buy fabric and then they can make you anything you ask for (very excited about this)! Some girls have already have had shorts, dresses, overalls, and more made! Dating is also done very differently here. You cannot be public about dating, you must be in secret. Once others or your family find out it is assumed you will be married soon! There is no public display of affection for your significant other, although all friends of every age holds hand, and people are very touchy with one another.
Just last week we got to see our first large African mammals and Lake Manyara National Park. I saw elephants, zebras, wildebeest, impala, giraffe, and even a glimpse at a lion and leopard. We have a few camping trips, one to the Serengeti National Park where I heard that we are more likely to see some large predators. I have really enjoyed the hands on class activities, overserving baboons, scat tracker with the Masaai tribe, mapping the local area, and outside lectures. We have one free day a week where we get to go hiking, take African art classes, go to the markets, or whatever sounds fun! Things are very cheap here so we can do activities or buy souvenirs for pretty cheap!
I feel like it’s overall very rewarding to view another culture so different from my own. But at the same time realize how similar we all are together! It’s very interesting to interact with people such as from the maasai tribes where they have a very traditional African culture and we are all still able to laugh about a game of hacky sack that we play together. All of our staff have the same passion for the environment and conserving our planet just as many others do in this society. I feel like I have learned so much, and barley two weeks have passed! I’m excited to see what else is in store.