Reflections by Morgan, Tanzania Global Volunteer and Endicott College Student
I absolutely fell in love with Tanzania. From the moment I met the Global Volunteers staff until the moment I was back in the airport at Dar es Salaam, I felt so at home in the community. Never had I ever experienced such love and warmth from a community.
My experience volunteering in Pommern was amazing, I knew that I was going to be teaching English to children and young adults, but what I hadn’t realized was how much they would be teaching me. My teaching began while school was still on holiday, but that did not deter students from coming. I was truly astonished that children would take time from their school holiday to walk to the Pomerini Primary School and listen to me teach– I was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. I was unsure how to begin teaching, I was used to working with high school aged students who speak English fluently, and are complaining to me about their World War 2 exam that was coming. The very first day, we recognized a young, shy girl, who I would come to know as the very boisterous Amina, was wearing a shirt with an American flag–and so it began. The first word we spoke in English together was flag. Then we used that same method to gain understanding of other words, picking up objects around the dark, dirt-filled classroom, and saying the names in English. To establish a relationship with the students, and show them that I was also their to learn, I would ask what the names were in Swahili, and practice my language skills as well, empower the young students to then become the teachers.
That first day I only had three students. I taught a morning session for about an hour, until they became restless and then made my way back to the Mission House where I had eager children ready to test out the new crayons and coloring books. And this became the routine–classroom lessons in the morning, attended by more and more students each day, and then games, sports, and art in the afternoon, where I would encourage the use of the English words we had learned earlier that day. It was amazing to see how quickly the children warmed up to me.
As the weeks went by, falling in love with Tanzania was easy. Each day, I was greeted by every person I walked by, whether it was the Hehe “Kamwene, ” and American “Hello” or the sometimes-confused “Ciao” – from children assuming I was an Italian volunteer. Every afternoon, I was greeted by hugs from all of the Primary School children as they walked by the Mission House on their way back from school. Each night before or after dinner I would go for a walk to the local stores, which usually ended in accompaniment by 3 or more children, and often an invitation into someone’s home, where I was able to talk, smile, and sing while the family prepared dinner.
Tanzania is a place I can call my home away from home. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and somehow, some way, the universe brought me to Tanzania. It was during my service that I truly felt I found my path in life, my passion, my purpose, the place I know I will return to again. Tanzania showed me the “real Africa” the land of smiles, laughter, gratitude, family, community and love.
Interested in falling in love with Tanzania as a volunteer?
Visit Global Volunteers’ Volunteer in Tanzania website page to learn more about the service opportunities. Or, chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance and other program details.