Recent Posts

March 1, 2011

Serengeti National Park

After our night on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater we helped break down camp and load the land cruisers for our trip to the Serengeti, about a 3 hr drive.  On the way we stopped at the famous Olduvai Gorge (more correctly Oldupai).  Oldupai is the location of important fossil finds related to human evolution, particularly known for Australopithecus boisei who lived 1.75 million years ago and was first discovered by Mary and her husband Louis Leakey. Later in 1976 Mary found the tracks of an earlier species of hominid, Australopithecus afarensis, at nearby Laetoli, which dates back to around…

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March 1, 2011

Ngorongoro Crater

The next several posts will update you on the last week of travels from Dar es Salaam to Musoma.  We left Dar on Monday, Feb. 21 and spent one night in Arusha before meeting our tour guides for our safari to Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Serengeti National Park, and Grumeti Reserve.   Each post will report on one of these days. We left Arusha Tuesday morning Feb. 22 around 10:00 a.m. loaded into our five land cruisers (one of which was our support vehicle equipped with tents, food, and cooks). The night in Arusha was wonderfully cool, a respite from the…

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February 28, 2011

We are delighted to report that all the students arrived safely at their service locations!  We received confirmation via phone from all the families.  Most students spent the day traveling via bus or daladala, with travels lasting 3-4 hours for some.  Others were picked up by their host parents directly from the Mennonite Center in Musoma, as four of the students will be here in Nyabange/Musoma. Some of the student text messages: “Hi Ryan, I’m here and LOVE everything…” “…we arrived safely and the farm work looks exciting…” “We are with our host families!” “Murangi folks, safe and sound, its…

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February 27, 2011

Safely in Musoma!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that we safely arrived in Musoma yesterday afternoon.  Today we attended the Nyabange Mennonite Church for a warm, festive, and celebratory welcome.  Over the last week, we had an amazing journey through the Serengeti ecosystem and we’ll report on that after we get the students sent off to their respective service locations tomorrow.  All the students are well and eager to jump into this next chapter!  More soon.

February 20, 2011

Everyone attended church today at Upanga Mennonite Church, where we have been having our daily Swahili classes.  The church has been so welcoming, as we’ve used classrooms on their compound, benefited from the local canteen for our lunches, and have deeply appreciated the daily interactions with the church staff and members. The Eastern Diocese offices are also on the compound, in addition to the VIJANA youth group (see earlier post), so we have interacted with a wide cross section of the Tanzania Mennonite Church.   Today we offered our thanks, albeit small in comparison to what we received.  The students sang…

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February 19, 2011

The students’ final exam was originally scheduled for Thursday, but since many students and teachers did not get much sleep on Wednesday night due to the accident at the military base, we postponed the exam until Friday.   In small groups, students spent Thursday afternoon exploring a variety of artisans in town to gain a better feel for how the arts are expressed in every day life. Friday the students finished their formal Swahili training (of course the real learning continues daily!) and received their official certificates of completion.  Congratulations Swahili graduates! In the afternoon we received a presentation from Dr….

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February 17, 2011

You may have heard that last evening Tanzania experienced an unfortunate accident at a military base south of the airport.  An accident caused an unknown quantity of ammunition to be discharged, which caused explosions that were felt many kilometers away. I wanted to simply report that all the students and their host families are safe, something we are very grateful for.  As a precaution, several Goshen College students who lived the closest to the military base did evacuate the area with their host families, but returned to their homes later the same evening. The group is safe and well and…

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February 16, 2011

Managing Marine Systems

On Tuesday Dr. Albogast Kamukuru, a marine biologist from the University of Dar es Salaam, gave us a presentation on the challenges and opportunities in managing Tanzania’s marine resources.  He emphasized the extreme economic importance of both freshwater and marine fisheries in a country where approximately 5% of the country is made up of aquatic resources. As in many places in the world, marine fisheries are currently being managed using Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), where key ecological units are protected from fisheries.  These areas can then act as a nursery ground for nearby areas where fishing and other consumptive activities…

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February 14, 2011

The rains have come…

This weekend marks a milestone in our trip (and perhaps the calendar year), as the first of the long rains reached Dar!  Praise be to God!  On Sunday morning we woke to cloudy and darkening skies and by mid-morning the wind, thunder, and torrential sheets of rain greeted us.  If you have ever experienced the rains after a long awaited drought, you know it is a special thing. The rains are of course vital to the livelihoods of many Tanzanians and indeed impact the daily routines of residents in urban settings like Dar where electricity production is mainly from hydropower. …

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February 10, 2011

Our theme this week has been to explore how the unique attributes of natural resources determine which management approaches should be used for conservation.   Forests, fisheries, and soils are very different systems which require unique management approaches depending on their biological attributes — sometimes education is enough, sometimes complete protection, sometimes human use. On Monday we took the entire day to visit a local Marine Reserve for a day of snorkeling and swimming.  We spent several hours in a shallow coral reef pursuing fish of splendid diversity, chasing eels of varied kind, and hunting snail shells of many sizes.  We…

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