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Tanzania: The Term Project


While the rest of BISV was watching movies in their classrooms or exploring the intricacies of Ireland and London, 14 students packed their bags in preparation to face the wilderness of Africa. 

Africa can be romanticized easily. Golden plains and paradisiacal beaches can make it a popular tourist attraction;  however, there are many parts most tourists don’t see; Tanzania isn’t perfect, but it still stands as one of the most beautiful places to be, untouched by the evils of industrialization. 

A popular saying that many people use to criticize their ungrateful acquaintances is “Kids in Africa would kill for that.” What I took away from this trip was that I would kill for the peaceful yet communal feeling of an African village. Here in the U.S., we’re sectioned away from our friends and relatives in domesticated neighborhoods and large cities. We treasure material objects and keep them hidden from the grabbing hands of our friends. In Africa, however, what’s mine is yours. Your best friend lives a minute away, and your other best friend is likely a cow. There is fresh milk and fresh food every day, and your quarrels probably occur between you and your seven other siblings. In fact, the village head told us they resolve quarrels by giving their opponent a leaf and apologizing. I’m not saying life there is perfect, but the change in pace is certainly de-stressing. You have a family, a home, and that’s really all a human needs. 

Here I am rambling on and on about the beauty of simplicity. Well, what did we actually do in the term project? We students were assigned a task to complete over our first three days. We assisted the village masons with building a medical lab that would make lab tests and results more accessible for the villagers. Before this project, people had to wait days to receive medical test results from a faraway lab that were crucial for their livelihood. With our goal clear in mind, we created cement, shoveled it into buckets, carried them, and organized rocks to create a foundation for the lab. By the end of our three days, we established connections with the village children, learned a bit of Swahili terminology, and received a goat for all our hard work (I didn’t try any but according to the others, it was very tasty).

Of course, our trip had just begun. Unsurprisingly, being trapped in a van for a five-day safari with your friends uncovers a lot of embarrassing secrets that create lifelong memories. More so, the meager conditions brought our terrified, disgusted minds together. Some people find safaris fun! For us, it was…a bonding experience. During the day, we traveled the plains of Tanzania, watching exotic animals from afar. Although we were cramped in a van, we witnessed the behaviors of different animals. From the close bonds between the warthog and zebra to the relationship of a lioness and her cubs, Africa’s animals had much more to show than we anticipated. Then nighttime came, and dread overcame us as we entered yet another campsite. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy that I wasn’t sleeping in the van, but at one point we were so deep in the wilderness that a stork came to visit us. A shower in one of our campsites was covered in mud and had dead mantises lying peacefully in the sink. We barely showered in those five days and with merely a backpack full of clothes, times were grim. Still, we stayed optimistic and captured a vast array of animals on film. We were patiently waiting for our last few days that would take place in paradise.

Final destination: Zanzibar, an island with a dark history of exporting slaves hundreds of years ago. But do not fret, the island is also rich in culture and diversity, filled with not only natives but also Hindus and Muslims along with museums to remember the harsh conditions of slavery. And for whoever enjoys Queen, this was the childhood home of the one and only Freddie Mercury (although I’m more of a David Bowie kinda gal). We first toured Zanzibar’s spice farm where everything from cinnamon to cardamom to citrus was being grown and harvested. These rich spices are one-of-a-kind and are reaped of their skin and seed because everything is of value to the people who utilize them. Later, we visited the tortoise sanctuary, where tortoises over a hundred years old lived and thrived. Think about that—they’ve survived World War II! Our last stop was the warm oceans of Zanzibar. A day-long boat trip accompanied by a bit of snorkeling and a delicious array of seafood (again, ask the others about this, I didn’t indulge) gave us closure for us 14 kids on our trip of 14 days.

Would I recommend this experience to anyone reading this? Absolutely. Will it be the most comfortable, luxurious one you’ve ever had? Absolutely not. But the memories I’ve gained will stick with me forever, and the friends that came along the way will never be forgotten. I hope you all get to share an experience like this with special people as well, so if you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate.


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