Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
From Bagamoyo to the Kilwa ruins to the Sultan paradise of Zanzibar, I am awestruck by the pure beauty of this country and the overwhelming hospitality of Tanzanians. I have truly fell in love with Africa, especially the Swahili culture. Zanzibar was just amazing. The mixture of African, Indian, Persian, and Arabic cultures - all speaking Swahili - was quite a sight to see. I have always considered myself an open-minded guy, but being in a Muslim dominated area broadened my view about the Muslim community. Maybe it's Zanzibar, with such a diverse group of people speaking a common language, or the island lifestyle, or Obama being president - whatever it is, the people were incredibly tolerant and welcomed us with opened arms .
It is so difficult to express in words the feelings I have for this country. Of course I will upload pictures soon (later in the day today, so check back in a few), but how do you capture the feeling you have when close to 1,000 school children sing and dance for you as they welcome you into their school? How do I write how it made me feel when I visited the Ministry of Education and they expressed how they would like for me to come back soon to conduct teacher workshops regarding counseling and working with familes? And the time when a poor teacher from a community school who is so interested in starting a country-wide initative to get counseling in all Tanzanian schools walked nearly 5 kilometers to hear me speak to a group of teachers? It is quite overwhelming. This is Tanzania.
So, yes, I visited the ruins of Kilwa that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries - some of the oldest Mosques and Sultan palaces in East Africa. Yes, I saw Stone Town and the beautiful island of Zanzibar. But, it's the people here that has made this trip fantastic. The school I mentioned where the students sang and danced for us did that out of their own pure hearts. It's not like we worked there for a few days and they threw us a celebration. We just visited a school in a small village in Zanzibar for the afternoon and they greeted us like royalty. They spoke to us about their village and their school, opening their hearts to us and saying repeatedly that we are always welcome to visit or stay in Muyuni.
I can go on and on. I guess all I have to say at this point is visit East Africa. Take a plunge into the Motherland. With all the ills that plague this beautiful continent - AIDS, poverty, access to education, etc - it is rich in so many other ways. The greatest natural resource this country has is the people, especially the children. They are eager to learn, eager to educate themselves, and eager to move forward in a positive way that will benefit Africa and the world.
All for now,
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
We visited a mosquito net factory, where they manufacture roughly one million nets per day. This is to fight malaria, which is rampant in Africa - a preventable and treatable disease. The nets are sold to companies, institutions, and stores throughout Africa. If a women is pregnant, or if a family has children under the age of five, they are able to receive a voucher from their doctor and purchase a net for a reduced price. The A-Z factory employs around 6000 employees, which is great for the local community.
We are here in Tanzania to learn about their education system and how we can help bridge the gap between U.S. and Tanzania. We visited a few community schools. Without writing a novel about the Tanzanian education system - which is quite fascinating, but in the interest of time and continuing to keep everyone interested in my blog, I will keep it short :). Basically, community schools have been built in the last 15 or so years as a response to educate Tanzanians in rural and remote areas. The funding comes from both the government (providing teachers, some materials, etc.) with the rest of the funds coming from the community (student fees, upkeep, finishing the construction of buildings, cooking meals, materials, etc.). The problem is that they built a plethora of schools throughout Tanzania, but the funding is lacking - the government has not been able to fund what they intended to do, so the rest lies with the community. The philosophy behind the new system is valid - building more schools as an effort to help nationalize the country - but it is taking time for Tanzanians to adjust to the new system and to find resources (both monetary and physical labor).
The teachers at the schools we have visited are fascinated with counseling. I had a great discussion with a teacher today who is looking for ideas and resources to help advocate for counseling for the country. The UGA professor who is our guide on this trip plans to meet with me after the trip to discuss writing a grant for a service learning initiative - to work in Tanzania for a year working with local schools, teachers, adminstrators, and politicians. What an opportunity for Lynn and me!
All for now.....Kwaheri
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
I will try and post as many pictures as possible each day (although the computers are a bit slow). Here are a few - some buildings on site at TCDC, a kindergarten class on site, the infamous monkey that trys to get in my room each night, women selling their goods at a local market, students at a primary school in Arusha (the only government primary school in Tanzania where English is the medium of instruction).
More pictures and stories to come....
Sunday, June 7, 2009
We settled at MS-TCDC (Tanzania Center for Development Cooperation) around 10:00 pm, had a light snack, some conversation with the staff, and then we went to our rooms. The rooms are great - a single room with a bed and mosquito net covering, a bathroom, and a desk to journal write. Even though I had been up for more than 24 hours due to traveling and time zone changes, I was still wired and not able to sleep. Eventually, around 12:30 am, I was able to fall asleep. I woke up first to a monkey trying to get in my room around 4:45 am, and then at 5:00 am I heard a muezzin (a person "calling for prayer"). It was a beautiful chant/song that lasted for about 15 minutes. I fell asleep for awhile and then headed to breakfast around 8:15...
Sunday, June 7th
After breakfast, we traveled to the town of Arusha to exchange money and stop at an artists market. Arusha is beautiful - nestled in the foothills near Mt. Kilimanjaro. The people are amazing here - very gentle, welcoming, always smiling, and wanting to engage in conversation. I met the Minister of Masai - he is a counselor and wants to speak to me at dinner this evening. I can't wait - what an opportunity.
Well, that's it for now. I am off to my room to rest. Today is a free day and tomorrow we start Swahili language and culture classes in the morning and activities in the afternoon.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I'll try to update as often as I can.
Take care - I love you all,
Friday, May 22, 2009
the big trip, just two weeks from today! I will depart from Atlanta on June 5th, layover in Amsterdam, and arrive in Tanzania (Kilimanjaro International Airport) on June 6th. From there, I will experience East Africa for the following four weeks.
Not much else to say - please check out my itinerary and follow along!
Peace - Jamie
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
As I sit here pondering life and what the next chapter entails, I get excited knowing that within that chapter I will experience the beautiful land and gracious people of Tanzania, Africa. I leave for East Africa on June 5, 2009 - just 45 days away. I will stay in Tanzania and Zanzibar for 4 weeks and will return to Athens, GA on July 3rd. This will be my first visit to the motherland and I doubt it will be my last.
I have been drawn, as most of us have at some point, to the lure of the African continent. Whether that is because some of human's earliest fossils are discovered there, its vast landscapes filled with exotic wildlife, or the people who inhabit the land - from city dwellers to remote tribes - Africa pulls us in. Just the mention of Africa will spark an interesting conversation that one feels passionate about, whether that is education, health care, poverty, anthropology, archeology, hunger, wildlife, etc. There is a mystique about the continent. As a westerner, there is much to learn from Africa and the people who inhabit the continent - an ethnically diverse continent with many traditions, languages, religions, and ways of life.
The pull is strong and it is luring me in. Africa is calling me.