The problem with travelling is that in the end, you are always just a visitor and you must go home. The world may be small, but a lot of places are pretty far away. This is the reality I am currently confronting, and if I thought about it too hard, I would probably not be able to take another step towards the door.
All throughout intermediate and high school, I considered myself a concert rat. At least once a month my friends and I would head down to Mr. Smalls or Club Diesel, usually being the youngest people in the crowd, to see one of the many bands we were infatuated with. These venues usually consisted of shoving crowds, mosh-pits, and crowd surfers. I’ve had my fair share of crazy adventures to faraway shows and completely ridiculous happenings, but none of these memories compare to our recent quest for Tanzania Bongo-Flavor Pop-Sensation: Diamond!
My resume now includes: milking cows, hoeing weeds, fetching water and carrying it on my head, peeling green bananas, stiring ugali, cutting grass with a scythe, sewing with a foot pedal, cooking chai, hand washing clothes, blowing a blacksmith’s fire
Have you ever wondered where your food comes from? Do you know the farmers who grow it or the chef who cooks it? When going to a restaurant in the United States, one rarely has the chance to meet the chef or see the kitchen. Knowing the farmer who sweat over the crops which make up that meal has also become increasingly difficult in our complicated consumer economy. I do not know if I will ever have a relationship with a chef or farmer at home and as clearly see where my food is coming from, like I do here.
This story begins with a woman sitting on a long, plain, wooden bench in an ordinary room in Kayanga town. The room was once painted a yellow-tan color but has since been decorated in scuffs, scratches, and dirt. The paint is rubbed off in places, and the ceiling is home to handfuls of wasps, migrating from their main colony to smaller ones nearby. The woman sits with her feet firmly on the concrete floor, her back to a wooden door latched with a silver and gold padlock.
Be it funeral, wedding, or Sunday service, every time I enter a church, a silence sweeps the crowd as all eyes turn to stare. More than a few “mzungu ” (white person) are uttered under breaths as the ushers scramble to make sure I get a real chair and not a bench off to the side but in the front so that I’m visible to all.
Most secular study abroad programs do not have regular discussions about religion. Our group consists of diverse religious believers in a country where asking about religion often comes before learning someone else’s name.