November 25, 2016

Samuel Wojcik

ERJ-Aotearoa

 

While I’m writing this reflection of my time here in Arusha, I’m being slightly distracted by noise on the roof of my classroom. It isn’t the pitter patter of the November rains (they passed over this morning), but the thundering feet of the school’s resident monkeys beating down on the tin!

Arusha is a fantastic city in the heart of Tanzania’s safari country. The town is milling with a mixture of locals and wazungu either in the city to volunteer or on safari. One of the first observations you’ll make on arrival in the city is that the “road code” is more of a loose guideline that people sometimes follow than it is law. Bodaboda (150cc motorbikes) zip about the streets creating chaos amongst cars and the modified land cruisers used to take visitors on safari. It feels strange that now after having been here for 4 ½ months that these sometimes surreal scenes are what I call home.

While I have had a number of challenges living here (including being a minority, the lung coating dust, the stark contrast in education systems between NZ and Tz and the concept of African time) Working at Edmund Rice Sinon has been an absolute blast! The students are friendly, interested (not always in the class work, but always in you), the staff are welcoming and the grounds are superb for a school in Tanzania. I have had many fantastic experiences at school; my first EVER day of teaching, form four graduation day and playing in the staff-students football match on the dusty old field across the road from school just to name a few. I have so much to be grateful for from ERSSS.

My trip hasn’t been solely based in Arusha though! Tanzania is a huuuuge country with many differing landscapes that I have explored. From the superb tramping in the Usambara mountains to the salty and sweltering Lake Natron. The sharp steep slopes of Ol Doinyo Lengai (an active volcano) to the long gradual climb to the summit of the roof of Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro (5895m). An experience in this beautiful country gives you the opportunity to visit some of the magic that is held within Tanzania. It also gives a fantastic base if you want to visit neighbouring countries. I managed to skip across to see some of Kenya and to visit the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda!

An immersion experience is no mean feat. It is scary, it is hard and sometimes you want to quit. But it is endlessly rewarding if you are willing to be open to new experiences and to live the culture. Jump in and give it a go!