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February 23, 2014

Safely in Musoma

This is a quick post to indicate we’ve arrived safely in Musoma.  We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and spent the night at the Mennonite Center in Musoma, a hostel run by the Mennonite Church.  Today the students had breakfast at the center and then we traveled to the Mennonite church at Nyabange, the small town near to Musoma where the Mennonite Theological College of East Africa (MTCEA) is located.  The students sang during the service and we were warmly welcomed.  We had lunch at a restaurant that borders the lake and students soaked in the sun and enjoyed the lake…

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February 16, 2014

Farewell to Dar

It has been a busy end of the week as we prepare to leave Dar.  On Wednesday we had our last unit house meeting and shared the highlights of our time in Dar, in addition to discussing how to prepare for the service section of SST. On Thursday and Friday students took their final exams in Swahili class and on Friday afternoon we celebrated their accomplishments with their wonderful teachers.  We exchanged small gifts and shared with each other how much we appreciated their teaching. Saturday all the host parents were invited to town for a meal together to thank…

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February 16, 2014

On Monday we visited Benjamin Mkapa Secondary School in Dar es Salaam to better understand the educational system in Tanzania.  We met the principal, several teachers, and a group of about 30 secondary students who were willing to stay after school to chat with our students.  It was in incredible experience.  Our students came away very impressed – “if these are the kind of future leaders, Tanzania has a bright future,” one quipped. Though we spent a bit of time comparing our educational systems, we spent most of the time discussing politics, Tanzania history, and their analysis of Tanzania’s future….

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February 12, 2014

Dance & Music

It is time to share with our family and friends how we’ve shed our Mennonite propensity to sing standing still!  We’ve exchanged it for the rich Tanzanian (if not African) desire to move when singing! We were treated to a wonderful presentation on Tuesday by Dr. Mathayo Ndomondo, a University of Dar es Salaam music professor.  He taught us about the varied indigenous musical traditions in Tanzania, with attention to the role music plays in various cultural groups (including initiation rites, communicating information, creating social solidarity, telling stories, etc.).  In addition to the vast information we were presented with –…

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February 9, 2014

Friday the group was treated to a visit to Nyantira Mennonite Church south of the city.  We boarded a rented bus and traveled about an hour to the church. Our group was hosted by Pastor John Wambura, who also serves as our SST country coordinator.  John serves as a pastor at Nyantira, and has been working tirelessly to establish a primary school on the church compound for children in the community who cannot otherwise afford school. (You’ll see some new classrooms still under construction in the pictures below.) We arrived to a cheerful welcome with the teachers and students lined…

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February 6, 2014

MEDA Visit

  On Tuesday morning we switched the morning and afternoon routines.  Instead of Swahili in the morning, we rented a bus to visit the Mennonite Economic Development Association Tanzania offices on the Msasani Peninsula.  We were warmly welcomed by the TZ MEDA Director, Faith Patrick, followed by presentations about MEDA projects from Timona Jarha, Director of Operations, and his colleagues. MEDA’s mission is to alleviate poverty through sustainable economic development. The focus of our visit was to learn about one of MEDA’s major projects – the national voucher system to distribute mosquito bed nets to pregnant women and their babies.  We learned…

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February 4, 2014

Today we were honored to have the opportunity to visit with the top Islamic leader in Dar es Salaam, Sheikh Alhaj Alhaad Musa.  We first visited Sheikh Musa in his office in Kariakoo and spent 30 minutes in conversation as the students were invited to ask questions about Islam.  The Sheikh welcomed us warmly and noted that most Americans and visitors do not take the time to visit a mosque or express interest in learning about Islam. He noted that the three major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – all share the same father Ibrahim (Abraham) and reminded us…

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February 3, 2014

Weekend Football Match

While most of the United States was watching the Superbowl, we had the opportunity to watch a “football” match as most of the world knows it!  As a group on Saturday afternoon we went to the national stadium for a soccer match between Simba and JKT Oljoro.  Simba devoured their opponent 4-0! Football is a national treasure here in Tanzania, like many African countries.  Loyalties to a particular team run deep, and we learned in our history studies that the two main rivals here in Dar es Salaam are Simba and Yanga, which have been intense rivals since pre-independence in 1961….

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February 1, 2014

  This week we have been dealing with some pretty weighty issues as we explore the opportunities and challenges facing Tanzanians post-independence.  On Thursday we heard from two Lutheran pastors, both women, on their work in promoting gender equity.  Pastor Itiku (YWCA) and Pastor Blandina (Lutheran church) gave a poignant presentation of the challenges facing girls and women in some Tanzanian communities: domestic violence, economic injustice, female genital mutilation, early marriage, and human trafficking. Pastor Blandina noted some impressive positive news – the Lutheran church in Tanzania has more than 200 ordained women and women make up around 30% of…

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January 29, 2014

After a wonderful weekend at Bagamoyo, we resumed our normal routine of language class in the morning and presentations or site visits in the afternoon. This week we began exploring the legacy of Tanzania’s first president Mwalimu (Teacher) Julius Nyerere, who is credited with helping Tanzania obtain independence from British colonial rule using peaceful means. We were honored to be able to spend time learning directly from Mr. Joseph Butiku, the late President’s personal secretary and the current director of the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Foundation.  Mr. Butiku and his colleagues presented us with a brief overview of who Nyerere was as…

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