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January 26, 2014

Weekend at Bagamoyo

  We spent this weekend in Bagamoyo, a town about an hour north of Dar es Salaam also directly on the Indian Ocean.  The town is much smaller than Dar, but was the setting of some major historical events in Tanzania’s history. On Saturday morning we met at the Mwenge bus stand in Dar, then took a daladala to Bagamoyo where we spent the first half of Saturday resting and relaxing on the beach. Bagamoyo is currently known for its dhow boat industry, art college, and tourism. In the evening we walked to the Bagamoyo College of the Arts for a…

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January 23, 2014

On Wednesday we gathered at ‘nyumbani kwetu‘ (our house) for the weekly unit house meeting. We celebrated two birthdays (Alia’s and Jenna’s) with ice cream! Students shared how their weeks have been going, we sang hymns from the Tenzi za Rohoni (the KMT swahili songbook), and we discussed the curricular themes we’ve been exploring this week. One of these themes has been identity: how Tanzanians formed a national identity during independence, how GC students feel this experience so far has helped them articulate and frame their own identity, and what their host families feel is most important to their identity….

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January 22, 2014

The Tanzania SST group went to the beach over the weekend as we reported in a previous post.  We thought you might enjoy a taste of the transportation we used. These are our solutions to global climate change – planting trees like in the pic to the right and carpooling as in the video clip below! (Is it possible to get everyone in the picture to the right in one van? The answer awaits you at the link below.) Click here to watch the video.

January 21, 2014

Sunday students spent the day with their host families – most attending church at various locations.  A few of us attended Sinza Mennonite church in Sinza, where we were very warmly welcomed! Both Monday and Tuesday started with Swahili class in the morning, then visits to the University again for history lectures.  On Monday Dr. Bertram Mapunda presented us with an overview of the earliest human history in Tanzania, dating back to Australopithicenes found at Olduvai Gorge near Ngorongoro Crater (a place we’ll visit in a few short weeks). Tanzania indeed is the birthplace of humanity, with the oldest rock…

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January 18, 2014

Friday marked our first week of Swahili classes completed – time seems to be flying by.  After Swahili class students took their first weekly quiz on the history readings that were assigned. After our quiz, we walked to the bus stand to get our first daladala to the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). We ate a quick, delicious lunch of rice/beans/bananas/fruit/chips/chicken in the UDSM cafeteria before receiving a lecture by Dr. Yusufu Lawi, a history professor at the university. Dr. Lawi’s research area is in Environmental History and he provided a thought provoking introduction to how various tribes in Tanzania view…

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January 16, 2014

Today we visited the Makumbusho Vijijini (Village Museum) and toured various houses constructed according to various tribal traditions.  Tanzania has 121 tribal groups, we were able to get a taste 10 or so traditional dwellings. The highlight of the visit was a pre-arranged meeting with RESEWO: Regent Estate Senior Women’s Group.  RESEWO works to educate communities about the health, nutritional, and medicinal benefits of using native plants.  The group, led by Freda Chale, has office space and their own gardens at the Village museum where they grow various native plants, which are sometimes considered weeds by locals. Mama Chale told…

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January 15, 2014

We are getting into our routine!  The last three days students have arrived at the church for Swahili class without a hitch.  Yesterday afternoon the students walked to Unit House for our weekly discussion and time of sharing and processing. Of course these events are always filled with wonderful fresh fruit and good food – we love the Tanzanian culture that puts such high value on eating together! After Swahili class we took a daladala to the U.S. Embassy for a presentation by David Feldmann (Deputy Director & Public Affairs Officer) on U.S. policy development and implementation in Tanzania. We were…

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January 13, 2014

Today marked an important milestone. Students traveled to the church on their own this morning, using daladalas to navigate the various roads to the right bus stops.  Remarkably everyone arrived on time! (However today is Maulid Day – so the traffic was light…. other days it may be a bigger challenge!). As students arrived they compared notes from their first weekend with their host families… some attended church or visited relatives…. everyone ate lots of ugali! Swahili classes started promptly at 8:30 and we were introduced to our four Swahili instructors (with KIU language school).  They are a wonderful team…

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January 11, 2014

This morning the students were picked up by daladala at the YMCA and we spent the morning at the unit house doing orientation activities. Since we checked out of the YMCA we hauled all our bags to the unit house and this enabled the students to unload the items they brought for the children at the school/orhpanage, which is run by John Wambura, the director of Jamii Empowerment Initiative (JEI).  JEI is a development non-profit of the Mennonite Church in Tanzania that works to help promote development, education, and healthcare among the communities in which the churches are found.  The…

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January 10, 2014

Safe arrival!

The 2014 Tanzania SST group arrived safely at the airport this morning and all were in good spirits!  We dropped them at the YMCA for a brief rest (they arrived at 4:00 a.m.) after which we met for breakfast and orientation.  After a breakfast of eggs, bread, and tea, we met under the shade tree at YMCA for a brief overview of the layout of downtown Dar es Salaam.  Students divided up into small groups and navigated their way through the bustling, commercial section of Dar.  Our tour ended at Upanga Mennonite Church, which will serve as the location for our…

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