Day 2-3: Orientation and city tour

Saturday Jan 14th, 2023

The last two days have been filled with various orientation activities and settling in, while  students stay at the YMCA in downtown Dar es Salaam. Friday morning was all business: exchanging money, getting SIM cards for phones, learning how to navigate crossing the road given the flurry of motorcycles (pikipikis) and bajajis (tuktuks)! We also visited the Kanisa la Mennonite Church (Mennonite church of Tanzania at Upanga) to show the students where their daily Swahili lessons will be.

Lunches both Friday and Saturday were at “unit house”, Donna, Ryan, and Mara’s apartment in Upanga. This will also be our weekly Wednesday afternoon gathering place for sharing, resting, and academic discussions. Lunches included fresh mangoes, bananas, and pineapple in addition to fresh bread from the bakery down the street for sandwiches (of fresh tomatoes, avocados, and cucumbers). Friday afternoon was filled with a variety of activities and games to more deeply explore the cultural diversity that we’ll encounter in Tanzania.

Saturday morning we returned to unit house for a morning of syllabus orientation and discussion related to our corporate and individual goals for the experience. Wow, this is a great group of caring and talented scholars!  We focused on two themes. 1) What does respectful cross cultural interaction look like? 2) What are the academic components to our work that will frame how we live and explore in these communities?

In the afternoon, we hired Abdul – a local tour guide – to provide a walking tour of downtown Dar. We began at one of the largest open markets in East Africa – Kariakoo. Snaking our way through the throngs of people selling all manner of wares was a highlight for many students. We criss-crossed through downtown stopping at various historical sites including independence monument, the Catholic church built in 1896, and the old German government buildings erected during German occupation in the late 1890’s.

We ended our day with a visit to the fish market at the harbor. We watched as multiple wooden boats left at dusk for 3-day trips, gurgling along with nets brimming over the edges and wiry fishermen clinging to the boat’s various appendages as they waved to us joyously.

It was a long, full, and rich day which ended with a meal of ugali, chicken, and fish at the YMCA. The energy and expectations are high as the students anticipate going hime with their host families tomorrow after church. We are so grateful for the care and welcome these families are extending!

– Ryan for the SST team