Tanzania: Student Reflections after the Homestay

Reflections, by Destiny

In Tanzania, I have grown to love the country. From arriving in Dar Es Salaam, being the biggest city, I was able to see one of the markets. It was incredible to see the amount of people that were walking up and down the streets to get to different shops, let alone the number of shops there were. Heading into the village of Stahabu, where I met my first home stay family, I was feeling nervous. It felt as many would call it, the roller coaster effect. This meant that while I was at Dar Es Salaam I was not as challenged emotionally as I was in Stahabu. The bottom of the coaster ride was me feeling homesick my first two nights. It was a rough patch but the following days I overcame my emotions and made the most of my time with my family. During the mornings we were split into groups, one will work with the nursery, while the other did construction on the school. I enjoyed working on the school but working with the kids in the nursery was one of my favorite things. My brother Mwinchumu was part of the kids in the nursery. Working with the nursery was able to open my eyes on the educational aspect in Tanzania. Mwinchumu being seven years old is to be in primary school, however the nearest school is 3 miles away which many times the travel can be dangerous. It has made a shift in the direction in which I tend to study for in college. In Arusha we stayed at UAACC (United African Alliance Community Center), it allowed me to work on my music skills which was really fun. I along my other group members worked on a song, which we were able to put our inputs of how Tanzania has left impacts on us. Tanzania has allowed me to grow in many aspects, it is my second home.

Rita’s super dope blog post

Stahabu taught me many things, some of which was not welcoming at first. In all honesty my home stay in Stahabu challenged and pushed me outside my comfort zone, but as a result helped me grow into a stronger more empowered person. In Stahabu I got to leave my mark amongst the children and helped contribute to the building of a local school. This connection I was able to form, helped to open my eyes to the impact I can make even in my brief stay. The village and the people here helped me foster my passion of working with different cultures. It made me think about one day returning to the village for a chance to work with families to better the sanitation and health opportunities accessible to everyone. Since my stay my interests have also expanded in regards to taking part in international health brigades to teach children and parents about general health and hygiene in South and Latin America. Learning more about Tanzania and its culture has opened my eyes to everything I have back in the states. These people have taught me so much and I can only hope to keep repaying the favor by carrying their lessons with me back home.

A New Chapter at the UAACC, by Emma

After bonding with the group so much and experiencing so many new things during our homestay in Stahabu, it was bittersweet to leave the village that we had grown to know so well. As excited as I was to see what Arusha had to offer, I was sad to say goodbye to my family, knowing that I might never get a chance to experience something like this again. After a long bus ride filled with many surprises (getting stuck in the mud and leaving several hours later than we planned) we made it to the UAACC. As soon as I got off the bus I knew that our time here was going to be so amazing. Just walking around the center and seeing all the murals from the last groups and many more made me so inspired. The UAACC is the United African Alliance Community Center, which was started by Pete O’Neal and his wife Charlotte (now known as Mama C) who were exiled from the US after their involvement in the Black Panther party caused trouble with the government. Instead of going to jail Pete and Charlotte decided to move to Tanzania and continue to enact change around the world. And true to their word they stared something so incredibly powerful. The UAACC, complete with an orphanage, recording studio, art center, school, library, and many more has changed so many lives. I am so grateful that I got to be a part of this for the few days that we were here. During our stay we got to take part in different projects, one group doing a mural and the other writing and recording a song. For me it was an easy choice, I love music and I can’t really draw, so I chose the song group. The group consisted of Cynthia, Khadijah, Destiny, Jada, Jonathan, Michelle, and me. As soon as we sat down to collaborate together we knew we wanted to focus our song on culture. We decided to infuse several different languages into our song to portray different cultures, and we included English, Swahili, and Spanish. As we started forming the beat and the lyrics Jada suggested a name, Culture Shock. It was perfect, because it was something we could all relate to. After forming the song, with a lot of help from Patrick, one of the Nyayo discovery leaders, we were in the studio recording. It was so fun, and when it was my turn to sing the chorus I was so nervous, but I knew that my group was supporting me and I just let myself relax and have fun. It took us about 2 days to write and record it, and hopefully we are getting the final mixed copies today. It is so amazing to me that we will get to have this for the rest of our lives, and can always look back on this part of the trip and have this song to remember our incredible experiences at the UAACC. Thank you so much Mama C and Mzai Pete for giving us this place to be creative and expand our knowledge. I will never forget my time here.