I find myself at the end of what has been, by far, the 3 most exciting and educational months of my life, and I’ve been given a simple task: write a blog about my experience. In the end though, all I can do is to try and to hope that I will be able to convey even a smidgen of the amazing experience that has been my life in Kayanga.
Once upon a time, there was a traveller named Mzungu who visited Karagwe, Tanzania. Mzungu did not speak any Kiswahili, but he was full of questions about the area and was curious to explore. Upon arrival, he decided to take a day and tour the town and the surrounding mountains and villages. The landscape was amazing, nothing like he’d ever seen. The hillside sloped down into a river that snaked through the valley. Past the river, the green mountains rolled on into the horizon.
One of the many sites Amizade volunteers visit in Petersfield, Jamaica is Roaring River Park – home to beautiful scenery and swimming holes, rich in culture and history, and the site of world-renowned limestone caverns.
March 18th was a beautiful morning with sun and a cool breeze. Seven students and two teachers climbed into a boat heading to an island off the Bukoban coast to visit the burial site of ancient kings. What they were not aware of however, was how this boat ride would be like nothing they would be prepared for. As the long, wooden fishing boat set off from the coast a line of swirling black clouds approached at high speed.
Think about the absurdity of a lifeguard being afraid of water or a kid drinking a hot cup of coffee in the middle of a warm summer day as he plays with the sand in a crowded beach. The reaction that most of you would have if you actually encountered such paradoxical scenes should be a fair comparison to the feedback and reactions we got as we planned and prepared for our camping trip to a mountain two hours away from our guest house.
I’m sitting in our comfortable bed in the Sleep Inn Hotel in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania’s capitol), with an air conditioning unit providing a cool environment while I watch Kung Fu Panda on a flat screen television. We have come a long way from Karagwe, and have enjoyed traveling along the tourist track followed by thousands of visitors each year in Tanzania.
The past several weeks have been filled with many activities and obligations. We have spent our last few weeks tying up loose ends for this semester, and preparing for our upcoming adventure and next semester. Before our final goodbye on Monday when we are scheduled to leave, we decided to have a going-away party Friday evening here at Misha Guest House. We invited 40-50 of our friends and colleagues to thank them for welcoming us Karagwe and to say goodbye. Caitlin made a sign which said “Amizade tunawakaribisha. Asante sana kwa urafiki yenu!” We had lots of food and drinks. The meal was prepared by Mama Roja who has prepared all of our meals here in Karagwe and of course it was delicious! Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and company of one another. Caitlin wrote a speech in Kiswahili on a napkin, and thanked everyone for their friendship and hospitality. Our student, Sarah, had the great idea to play musical chairs, and we had a great time teaching the game and playing.
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This guest post comes from Professor Joseph Miller. Originally intended to debrief the recent Amizade spring semester study abroad course to Karagwe,…