We are five days in and still getting adjusted to dirty feet, roosters and cows in the morning and no A/C. I am blown away by these students, though! They have constantly been in good spirits and don’t hesitate to jump in to help, play with kids or work. So far, we have mostly been at the Baobab Home in Bagamoyo. This is an orphanage that an American woman opened with her Tanzanian husband. They have two of their own children and eight more children running around this farm. She has built a school here and a garden and cows.
Our students have been busy painting the children’s rooms here as well as other projects around the facilities. They also pitch in with cooking and cleaning and, on top of it all, participate in lectures – sometimes at the end of very long days.
We arrived on THURSDAY and it was the longest day I have ever experienced in my life. I’m not sure how everyone did it, but after traveling for over 24 hours, we arrived in Dar es Salaam at 2:30am local time. After an hour bus ride (during which NO ONE slept!), we arrived in Bagamoyo and met our host and set up our tents and sleeping bags. The students jumped in right away and started playing with the kids. After breakfast, they started working on some of the projects around camp. When lunch was ready, around 2:30pm, we realized many of us thought we were eating dinner…we couldn’t fathom at that point that our day was only half over. The afternoon was filled with smaller jobs and resting. After showering, most of the group couldn’t stay awake for dinner and turned in early.
We were awoken on FRIDAY at 6am to the sound of roosters and cows letting us know it was time to start another day. This was the last full day to work on projects around camp, so once again, students jumped in to finish them as best as possible. According to our teaching schedule, we were attempting to have a class lecture that evening. We were just encouraging students to finish up that afternoon and shower early so we could get in a class before dinner when a caravan pulled up with a band in the back of a truck playing music and bringing a crowd of people in tow. It was a wedding party and the groom was a relative of the owner of the orphanage. Weddings here last days, and part of the celebration is a journey to each side of the family’s home to welcome the new members into the family. As this large, formal procession pulled in, they met a group of mzumgu (“white people”) covered in paint, sweat and dirt. I’m sure we were a site, but that didn’t deter them at all. They started this procession of dancing and singing and circling around the couple in celebration. Least to say, our lecture was delayed for quite a while that night. The group hung in there, though, for a quick lecture and a late dinner working in between discussions. We had a lot of cultural experience to work with already in lecture! This is the best learning ground paired with the most enthusiastic learners I have experienced – what a blessing and honor to be here!
On SATURDAY, we woke up to a slower morning with breakfast and more wedding festivities later in the morning. I true African timing, the wedding festivities were scheduled to start by 9am, but the party didn’t arrive until after noon. It was great exposure to the differences in timing in different cultures. After the wedding, we went into town to an incredible home where a group of HIV+ children meet weekly as a sort of support group. We ate lunch, played with them and then learned the craft of batik. The day was finished by a refreshing dinner at a restaurant in town.