Throughout this blog I have shared my thoughts on and reflections about my time in Tanzania. I have realized since being home that every student on my trip took away different lessons and highlights. In the effort to incorporate the other 15 voices in this blog, I asked each of my classmates to share a reflection, lesson, or memory that he or she found important.
Communication Studies major; Religion minor
Like most of us, it is hard to pick just one experience from this trip that we can call our favorite. For me, I enjoyed different parts of each day that I will take with me and always remember them. One of these moments was dancing with the mamas and elders in Eluwai, the last boma we stayed at. After dinner, we all gathered in the Luther House, which is definitely not meant for the amount of people that were in there. First, the men started chanting and dancing. Eventually the women started dancing as well. Throughout this, the mamas placed circular beaded necklaces on all of the women’s necks. These necklaces move up and down with shoulder movement and are all apart of the dancing they were teaching us. Apparently, the women liked how I and a few other students were dancing and pulled us into the center of the dancing circle. I felt so enveloped in their culture and so welcomed. We even had a dance-off to see who was the most impressive Maasai dancer. Even though there were verbal communication barriers, there were definitely lots of smiles and laughter had by everyone in that house that night. These people barely knew me and introduced myself and the rest of the group to a huge part of their culture. There were several moments of this throughout the trip but this one definitely stood out to me the most. I am so happy to have had the experiences I had on this trip and would love to go back and visit the people we met.
Biology and Dance major, Chemistry minor
My worst day of the trip also contained one of my most memorable experiences. It was partway through the trip and we were visiting the emanyatta, a boma specifically for the instruction of young Maasai warriors. While we were there I got ridiculously sunburnt. Being out in the sun was physically painful to me and after all I could do was lie in my sunbaked tent and feel miserable. However, the experiences of the earlier day made up for my later discomfort. While we were at the emanyatta we encountered a group of children who were pretty shy. All of our dad jokes and kid skills were put to the test. We succeeded in making a few of them smile and got a few fist bumps, but the children were still liable to scatter if we made any really sudden movements. Right about when all of our ideas were exhausted I decided to try some peek a boo, using my dark tinted sunglasses. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to work. I’m not good with kids and usually avoid excessive interactions with them because it makes me uncomfortable. However, the Maasai children loved my game of peek a boo, crowding around me and becoming enthralled with my eyes appearing and disappearing. Later, as we sat on the vehicles waiting to leave, some of the kids came over to my window and got my attention, using hand gestures to communicate that they wanted me to come back outside and pretending to peek a book with their nonexistent sunglasses. Although I couldn’t rejoin them, I began the game again through the window until we had to leave. This experience made me think about the different ways people connect. It’s pretty much a given that people become connected through their similarities. However, I think that connecting through differences is even more important. The reason my game of peek a boo was so enthralling to the Maasai children was because I looked so different from them with my white (quickly turning red) skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. These differences led to us sharing a moment and forming connections. After a while, the game became more than just their fascination with my differences and became genuine enjoyment of our interaction. Looking back to this experience, it reminds me to not be blinded by differences, but to embrace them because they will likely lead to new connections and personal growth.
Political Science and Accounting double major
While I have many wonderful memories from Tanzania, a lot of the moments that stand out to me involve music. I was consistently amazed by the unifying power of song and dance. The first time I noticed this was at the church service during our boma stay at Mbarangati. The choir at the church was absolutely incredible. Their singing and dancing filled the room with joy and praise. That same day, we were greeted by the Maasai women at the Napok Women’s Development Project with singing and dancing and were encouraged to join in. During our last boma stay, we had the esoto, which was traditional singing and dancing with the village members. Each time, I felt overwhelmed by the love and happiness of the Maasai. By singing and dancing with them, we were welcomed into the communities, but also able to share something that crossed cultures and joined us all together.
Biology Major, Chemsitry minor
It is hard to choose just one moment when the entire month in Tanzania was so incredible, but the most memorable experience for me would have to be the church service that we attended in Mbarangati. The choir was composed of around 100 men, women, and children, and each one of them sang with so much passion. The moment they began singing a sense of peace came over me, very similar to the feeling that I feel at the opening of every Christmas at Luther.
During the service, the pastor prayed for our own families back in the United States and made the connection that although we were on opposite sides of the world, we would all be in church on that Sunday. That realization was powerful for me, as I realized that although we were in a seemingly completely different world, religion is universal, and we are not really that different from one another at all.