Category Archives: Humanity

To let go; to bring in

As the year comes to a close I’ve been doing a lot of self reflection. There was a night I gifted (well not quite gifted since it’s something we should give ourselves more frequently with zero guilt) myself where I sat down to be with my thoughts while I drank some fantastic wine with a smell good candle lit and Huxley snoozing on the bed by my side. It’s kind of incredible what a treat a night to yourself spent in the way you want to does for your being. It’s so completely underrated. 

I suggest you all give yourself a night immediately. 

You guys, I’ve done a lot this year. And it’s crazy to think I just realized how much I’ve done. I tend to jump in headfirst and boom there’s autopilot. It used to work for me. It was a survival skill I learned very young to help me through life that I now know wasn’t easy, ideal, or to be honest very loving. I don’t want it to sound like love was lacking in my life but the love was conditional and hard. It wasn’t conducive to a child’s growth or mindset.

But what I want now for myself is to be more mindful. I want expansion. I want to be seen. And by doing/having/being I will then create so much more opportunity in my life. 

I’ve learned that what I tend to do is expend ALL energy I have in work, friendships, whatever. And then as fast as I started I’m left exhausted, tired, and heavy with no energy. Ugh. It’s depleting. And it’s not sustainable. 

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past 5 years. And I haven’t done it without help. 

If ever there was a segue to the idea of therapy I’m going to take this as it. 

Therapy is important. It is fruitful to being a well rounded person who can look at their hardships and give themselves love. Love to forgive. Love to accept. Love to take action. 

I cannot stress this enough. Therapy is important. It can have a negative stigma and that’s bullshit. 

Would you ask a sommelier what wine they recommend that pairs the best for the plate of food you’re about to order at an established 4 star restaurant? Did you not have a coach to guide you and challenge your physical and mental strength and capacity for whatever sport you played in school or professionally? Do big wig executives not have a board of trusted advisors to check in quarterly on the roadmap and to advise them of sound decisions to ensure a company is headed in the right direction? 

Then why the fuck as a human being living as an adult do you not have a therapist or life coach who has studied, mastered and understands human behaviors, thoughts, and emotion. It’s imperative as a citizen of the world and if, at the very least, as a person who craves something beyond them, to understand who they are by unearthing what they came from to discover who they want to be. Read that again. Please.

You guys, your ego is an incredibly powerful thing. It can hinder so much of who you are. But by acknowleding and recognizing how and when it shows up and why will allow you to move mountains. 

By any means do I think I am moving mountains but by every fuck out there I have the ability to do so. And there’s a fuck for you if you think otherwise.

I am a better person for asking for and seeking help. I’ve always had a problem asking for things. I had pride. I had ego. I had insecurity. 

Now? Now I have and am still learning love for myself. And compassion. 

I want so much for myself. I know you do too. We owe it to ourselves to give ourselves all the resources to actualize our wants.

This is my life. I have to remind myself that I have time. I also have the skills and resources in abundance. 

So this is me. 

I am so grateful for what 2016 has brought me from experiencing the opera at the Met for the first time, to the travel to far away lands, to all the glasses of wine and bowls of fondue at Murray’s Cheese Bar, to those bartenders at Murrays Cheese Bar who didn’t judge me for all the glasses of wine and bowls of fondue I scarfed  down and instead hooked me up, to my super who unclogged my toilet and gave hux love, to drs appointments and physical therapy for my knees, to all the people that have visited me and shared with me their first New York moments, to the seamless food delivery guys that brought me lunch at work daily, to Huxley’s sweet lovable nature, to being able to surprise my best friend on her birthday, to all the apt cleaning I did resentfully, to the subways that came at just the right time, to my shitty narcissistic boss, to becoming a certified coach, to the friends that I’ve laughed and cried with, to saying goodbye to my brothers, my mother, and Becca who beacame one of my best friends, to the overpriced New York everything, to the Greek guy who reminded me how I want to be loved, to being published in a handful of online articles for work, to my rooftop views, to relinquishing my Cali license, to 2016 and everything in between. 

I let go of stories I narrated to myself that don’t serve me. I let go of the negative ideas and perceptions I held of myself. I thank them for the lessons I’ve learned. I am grateful for everything. I hate the turn of connotation of the word has taken but I will say it. I feel blessed. 

For 2017 I bring in expansion. However that means. I say yes to love, to opprtunity, to life.

I breathe it all in. I expand. 

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Like Sands Through the Hourglass

I had a beautiful birthday after my incredible trip to Morocco. It was perfect. I did exactly what I wanted to do and I felt zero guilt for doing it. I did have a little work hiccup where I found myself typing furiously on my humongous tablet looking phone in response to a passive aggressive email from someone who really gets to me. But with that said, I woosah’d and got over it and happily went about my perfect day.
4 years ago on my birthday I adopted a sweet tiny lil pup named Kona in Cali. He is my first and only dog. Today he is a happy healthy 4 yo lil guy named Huxley who lives in New York. He’s the best. On my birthday I celebrate Hux as well. I never knew what it meant to have an animal. It’s amazing. This lil’ one has helped me get through some tough times as well as some big life changes. I’m so grateful. 


Suffice it to say Huxley got extra love on this day and lots of treats (human food included).

I took him to the dog park so he can get in his favorite pastime of fetch on. It’s funny. He gets so focused on playing fetch he has no time for other dogs. 


After the dog run we walked through Washington Square park.


I then dropped Huxley off at home and went about my morning. I wanted to grab a sourdough bagel from the only bagel shop I know of that serves them in the UWS.


It was delicious. 

I continued through the UWS and stopped by a nail salon/spa where I treated myself to a manicure/pedicure AND 30 minute massage. It was blissful. 

From there I meandered into Central Park. It was a beautiful day and wanted to spend as much of my day off outside as I could. 



While at the park the bestie called to wish me a happy birthday. It was so great to hear her voice and talk about my day and trip. I realized then exactly how much I miss my people. 


One of my favorite things about New York are all the street performers. I was able to truly stop and listen and appreciate so much talent. 


This dog was really enjoying himself. He wouldn’t budge although his dad was ready and waiting. 


Love all the music.

I found a nice spot on a bench to sit and read and relax. 



I was super immersed in my kindle when a man approached me saying he was an artist and if I could please sit for him as he drew me. Funny enough earlier I had walked by someone being drawn by another artist and had a fleeting thought about how nice it is to capture a moment in time in that way in Central Park. 

I asked him if I could continue to read my book since I was really into it. He said please no I need you to look at me. Would only take 15 minutes. I was thinking how much it must suck to want to show your talents and be creative but not have any takers so I agreed. 


His name was Jacob and he was Armenian. He had a little portable radio playing classical and opera. I told him it was my birthday. Coincidentally, Pavarotti a little while later played on his radio and the dj made mention of it being his birthday. I take all these little beautiful signs and coincidences as the Universe reminding me that it’s here and paying attention. 

My “15 minutes” took about 30. I can tell you how awkward it is to sit and stare at someone for that long while they turn you into their art. It’s pretty vulnerable but with any vulnerability there’s something truly beautiful about it. It’s the feeling of someone “seeing” you literally and figuratively. 


Jacob gifted me with his art and I thanked him and let him work on his next subject as a crowd began to form when he was almost finished.

I found my way to another bench with the intention to finish my book but instead took in my surroundings and enjoyed more performers.​​​

Writing this and sharing with you I feel like I’m reliving this day all over again and it’s putting me in such a great mood.

I started to make my way home. When thinking about dinner instead of going someplace fancy and getting an expensive meal I decided Chinese food in bed with Netflix on was more the day and my speed. 


Thank you all for the birthday love and the best wishes and good vibes. Huxley and I both had a truly wonderful day.

It’s going to be an incredible year. I feel it in my bones.

Identity

I’m sitting here in downtown Manhattan in the middle of a crowded DMV. I’ve lived here for more than 2 years now. I’ve had 3 home addresses. I’ve had 2 jobs. But for some reason renewing and changing my license from California to New York feels more permanent.

It’s as if I’m committing to New York all over again. This time my glasses aren’t rose colored, they’re slightly foggy and vision isn’t clear.

This time there are no expectations. There is only reality.

Frankly, I don’t quite think I’m in the right headspace for this emotional endeavor. I guess I didn’t think it would be such a big deal.

But alas, this is where I find myself. I’m sitting here and a part of me feels like my identity is being stripped from me. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s unsettling.

I am well aware I made the choice to move to New York. And I’m also aware I made it happily. and willingly. and on my own.

So much has happened since I first touched down in New York that hot July day in 2014. So much.

I am still me. But maybe I’m a more refined me. I’ve shed some parts of me while bringing in new layers of skin to help serve as protection and defense against New York’s sometimes harsh, yet (if you can see it) beautiful realities.

I can’t help thinking I may have also lost a little bit of me that I loved. I’m struggling to understand what that may be. I haven’t quite put my finger on it. Could it be the blind optimism I outwardly projected in every circumstance? Maybe it’s the knowing there was an unknown I had yet to discover.  I don’t know..

I’ve been told a lot that I carry myself like a New Yorker and people can’t tell I’ve only been here for a mere 2 years. In response I have mentioned that I’ve toned down the Cali pleasantries. (It’s a real thing.) But it’s more than that. I’m still well mannered and friendly and I still smile at strangers. But maybe a little bit of me has hardened and closed itself off. Maybe the naïveté and beginners luck has worn itself non existent.

I feel like I’m saying goodbye to something I now want desperately to hold on to. My identity is changing here in New York. I’m saying goodbye to California and the life I used to have. I already feel out of the loop with my best friends back “home”. And I know, vice versa. A lot of them don’t even know how I live out here or what a day looks like for me. It makes me a bit sad. I’m disconnected.

This is a goodbye to California. It’s real. And it feels more real since I already have a life here. I’m not starting over this time as I say goodbye. My life here is established. I’m just moving on this time. It’s hard. I wasn’t prepared for this.

I’m at an impasse. My heart is in stalemate and I’m not ready to say goodbye.

Teaching the little ones

I have such a greater appreciation for teachers since volunteering in Tanzania. I have never felt like I’ve wanted to become a teacher but I respect and admire those that do and those that are. It’s a commendable job that often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

A lot of the days I was left alone with the older ‘baby class’. Basically the 4 year olds who were more advanced. The other volunteer, Kelsey, would stay with Mama Frida in the ‘baby class’ of 3 year olds and a couple 2 year olds. And the 3rd volunteer, Claire, would be in the big kids class of 5-7 year olds with Madame Eva.The days when not as many kids showed up to school we would only split into 2 classes and Kelsey and I would tag team the ‘baby class’.

Below is myself, Mama Frida and Kelsey.

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My first day in my own class was trying to say the least.The problem was the communication barrier and not having an aide help translate or help keep the kids quiet and focused. Quite honestly, the first time I taught alone I left the school day feeling so frustrated and defeated. My patience was tested and I felt like I failed so I was disappointed in myself.

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I think the best advice I could give when volunteering in such a short period and when never having the experience before is to just allow yourself some forgiveness and patience. Cut yourself a break. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to save the world going into a program like this. There are time and financial constraints. What you can do is give what you can with compassion and love to the children. I had to remind myself when I became frustrated and felt hopeless that I had never done this before. That my purpose isn’t to change the educational system in Tanzania but to help provide support and to do what I can in the short amount of time I was there.I had to woosah and just roll with it. Kids are gonna be kids no matter where you are. I just needed to have fun with it and be patient!

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Any time the classroom started to get crazy and I would feel their focus start slipping away I would break into song. The kids loved to sing. They know so many English and Swahili nursery songs. It was fun to watch them get excited and become involved again. Or I would bust out the camera. The kids loved getting their picture taken and seeing it after. It was too cute.

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The other 2 volunteers and I taught them the hokey pokey when we were there. I forgot how long the song was and how much energy it required. It always left me winded. hah!

My lesson plans consisted of Math – numbers from 0-100, basic addition, problems that highlighted missing numbers etc; as well as English – going through the ABC’s, associating a word with each letter, shapes, colors, and body parts. Kelsey and I made posters for the classrooms as tools. I also used colored post its below to help re-emphasize colors.

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It was fun to go around the room and point at articles of clothing the kids were wearing for colors. They would get so excited and start bum rushing me and yell “teacha teacha” and point to their undershirt or their sock or what have you. Drilling the color purple into them was easy because their uniforms were purple.

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Sometimes I would take the kids outside to the painted mural on the side of the school so I could quiz them on animals and colors. Why there is a dinosaur with all the other animals I’m not quite sure.

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When my patience was severely tested I would break out the construction paper and crayons I would bring to school with me. I would have the kids draw through the alphabet with animals and objects or draw simple shapes that I would first draw on the chalkboard. When that failed, just having them draw anything quietly worked for me. It was fun to see them so excited about the colors. I would hand out each construction paper and have them repeat the color of it to me. I would do the same with the crayons. It was exciting when they knew the colors on their own and would ask for a specific one.

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It was even more adorable when they would show me their drawings proudly.

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Sweet Jennifer below never smiled and was very quiet but was so so lovable.

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One day the classroom I usually taught in was occupied by visitors. So we went to the church and I tried very unsuccessfully to teach them something. They were very hyper and excited to not be in the classroom. What happened instead was we sang a lot of songs, drew on construction paper, and when a couple of the boys ran around screaming through the pews of the church I conceded to what clearly was going to be a play day and I took them outside to do just that. I was told later that they could hear us in the other classrooms. Oops!

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I wasn’t always left to my own devices with my own class. Thank goodness! It was always such a great reprieve to share the responsibility of teaching with Kelsey or with Mama Frida. Kids have soo much energy.

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Look at all these adorable faces!

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On certain days we had workbooks that we give the children to practice their math. For the younger ones it can simply be tracing numbers for the older ones it was usually addition. They also had homework as well. One day I surprised Mama Frida and the kids with fresh new pencils. She was so grateful and full of thanks. Something so little can make such a huge difference and can go a long way in these schools. The kids were ecstatic! They always wanted the pencils with erasers intact and became really sad when they weren’t. This was huge for them.They broke out into a “Thank you teacher” very loudly and happily. It made my heart swell.

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Porridge time also was a bit of a reprieve. It gave us a chance to catch our breathe and observe these beautiful children.

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The stickers were reserved for really great days and a special treat for the kids. We would hand them out at the end of the day before we were picked up. The kids were so excited they got to choose which one they got.

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Each day that passed I fell more and more in love with these beautiful children. It proved to be very difficult to say goodbye. I’ll share that experience with you all soon…

More on community and cultural learning

For one of the learning sessions we just sat around and talked about attire, greetings, traditions for ceremonies and really just anything that came up about cultural differences from each of our own countries. We had volunteers not just from the US but also Turkey, Argentina, the Philippines, Italy, France, and China.

In Tanzania the women wear kangas. They have sayings on them that mean different things and must be worn correctly although there are a variety of ways to wear them as depicted below.

Most of our at home activities took place in the common area where we also had breakfast lunch and dinner.

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There’s also a specific handshake to greet your peers and those older than you. When you say hello or hey to someone you say ‘Jambo’ short for Hujambo. When you greet an older person you say Shikamo Mama or Shikamo Baba for respect. Elders are treated in a high regard. You can even shikamo your older sister (dada) or brother (caca). Shikamo translates to ‘I hold your feet’. The response by an elder would be ‘Maharba’. Which means ‘I am delighted’.

There are other greetings as well like ‘habari’ which means how are you. The typical response when being asked questions like these is to say ‘Nzuri’ which could mean fine, or good, or okay.

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We weren’t allowed to have alcohol at the house but I had found out from a previous volunteer who left the day I arrived that there was a “bar” around the corner. It wasn’t so much a bar as it was someone’s house that partially served as a store. Enter Josephina’s. We would frequent this place a lot. Mama Josephina was great. We even met some of her kids.

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Every time we left the compound it was required we sign out.

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cheers

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Other times when we would go into town (every Tuesday & Thursday from 4-6) in which there were opportunities for cold beers then as well. The beer choices were aptly names Serengeti, Safari, Kilimanjaro and there was also a cider called Savannah dry that some of the girls loved. It was too sweet for me so I stuck with beer for the most part.

In town we would hit up the super market to get any essentials for showers and what not but also if we wanted to get supplies to bring to our placements. Every time we got to town we were bombarded by guys selling tchotchkes like bracelets, small paintings or jerseys.

Loading up the vans on our way to town.

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First time we exchanged currency. Felling like bajillionaires. Makin’ it rain all over Moshi. The conversion rate was about 2000 shillings to 1 US dollar.

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After each visit the view of the Supermarket and ATM became redundant and boring.

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As well as going to the Pristine office across the street from the ATM.

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All the beautiful beers we weren’t allowed to take back to homebase. What a shame indeed.

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A fun place to get amazing art made by local artists. I wanted to buy a painting but even after bargaining they would cost hundreds of dollars. Instead I opted to take pictures of the paintings. 😉

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With one of my 3 roommates, Kelsey

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Our awesome CCS drivers that were way more than drivers, Baba John & Joseph

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There were so many salons everywhere and they all had pictures of celebrities either hand drawn or on a banner like this in the front. Here we have Ludacris. I also saw Obama, Aaliyah, Kanye, Bob Marley etc

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Pretty little souvenirs

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Walking through town. Karibu means ‘you are welcome’. You can say it in the context of first arriving somewhere or even when responding to when someone says ‘asante’ (thank you).

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The beautiful Mosque in the center of town

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Down the road not too far away was a Hindu temple

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The bus station. We were advised not to take the dala dala buses as they are overcrowded and super unsafe.

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It seemed like Coca Cola sponsored all of Tanzania as there were signs everywhere. That and also signs of Vodacom. Ironic given I had just recently quit working for the global company Vodafone. hah!

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Enjoying beers as a restaurant in town. ‘Karibu tena’ means ‘you are welcome again’ like come again or welcome to come back.

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Community and cultural learning

Sorry for the delayed posts. Tanzania already feels like a lifetime ago in New York minutes but it’s so nice to relive the moments as I express them to you.

Our days at homebase were so busy. Sometimes it was difficult to catch a breath or process all that was going on. I felt like I was there for months simply because of all we did in one day and not sleeping well from the jet lag. Our schedule was back to back. Some of us even opted out of an activity or two because we were completely exhausted.

Flying across the world into a different time zone there’s a period of allowing your body to adjust. Top that off with a different culture, learning a new language, getting to know people you are sharing close proximities with, and doing something most of the group have never done before (teaching) causes one to expend a great deal of energy. To make for even greater exhaustion is to add, oh i don’t know, lots and lots of kids to the mix.

Our weekends were free to us to do as we pleased. Throughout the week Monday – Friday we had different activities planned with little free time and an 11PM curfew.  The activities were really great way to learn about the community and the culture. The curfew I didn’t much care for when it became inconvenient on my last few nights.

We had Swahili lessons, speakers that gave presentations at homebase – a local politician talking on education and country history (which I missed because I took a nap instead and was happy to learn I didn’t miss much) and a representative from NAFGEM: Network Against Female Genital Mutilation to spread the word on FGM (This was by far the hardest thing to sit through. Although it was hard I completely understand the need to be educated on it and learned very interesting and disturbing things), we visited a local hospital, had a night of tribal dancing, took a tour of the CCBRT (Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation In Tanzania – they worked on issues of disabilities such as like club feet, cleft palates etc), visited a local tribe (Chagga), had reflection as a group on our placements and anything that came up surrounding that, was given an open session on local dress and traditions and greetings, visited the local Amani Center for street children, as well as had nights scheduled where we were taken to town and had free time to go to the market, hit up the ATM, go shopping, grab drinks or go to our tour company Pristine to work out any issues revolving the tours we signed up for on the weekends.

Whoah. That’s a lot right? It sure was. But a lot in a really good way.

CCS was really great in that regard. We jumped headfirst and immersed ourselves completely and in such a short amount of time learned a great deal. It was definitely a different way to travel. I am used to being left to my own devices when traveling or going to an excursion or two with a tour group that albeit fun, didn’t quite provide background on community issues.

George was one of our program directors at homebase. This is his office.

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Swahili lessons in our common area.

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We spoke to doctors and took a tour through the local hospital. It was definitely a culture shock to see what was available. As we were walking I even noticed a needle on the ground. That couldn’t have been good. The grounds were open and I didn’t see any individual rooms. There are a handful of doctors that work in the hospital but they mostly rely on medical volunteers.

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This last picture is the beautiful view of Moshi from the 2nd floor of the hospital.

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CCBRT is a private disability clinic and relies heavily on large donations. They offer free treatment to kids up until the age of 5. They are the largest disability provider in Tanzani and give such a wonderful service to the community.

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The Amani local orphanage and center for street children. This was down the road from homebase towards town. They also rely very heavily on large donations.

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This beautiful boy below was autistic. Behind him a teacher was giving a lesson to the other children.

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Some of our group walking back to homebase after the tour.

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Traditional dance night! This night was SOOO much fun! We had a dance group come to home base and set up in the beautiful front grounds of homebase. They danced and we danced with them. It was such a great night. Wish I had more pictures but it was so dark outside so lighting wasn’t ideal.

Our program Director Mama Thea is in the middle in orange representing one of her tribe’s dances.

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*More pics to come on all the cool learning activities! I am missing Tanzania something real fierce at the moment and I feel so blessed I got the chance to have that experience.

Introduction: A little town called Moshi

When I signed up for Cross Cultural Solutions and I researched the organization I decided rather quickly I wanted to go to Africa. I had never stepped foot onto the continent and I frankly didn’t know when I would get the opportunity to do so. That, coupled with the fact that there is so much need in Africa and being that this was a volunteer trip, not just a vacation, made it an easy choice. CCS had 2 options for Africa at the time I signed up. One being Moshi in Tanzania in the Kilimanjaro region and 1 in South Africa in or around Cape Town. I thought that Cape Town wouldn’t be as rich of a cultural experience so Moshi won by a landslide.

To help you understand where I was below are maps of Africa and Tanzania specifically. On the Africa map Tanzania is in the East with Kenya and Uganda to the North, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Rep of Congo to the West and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the South. Moshi is in the North East in Tanzania bordering Kenya.

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To give you more background; Moshi is a municipality. A town consisting of over 200,000 people in the Kilimanjaro region based off of Mt Kilimanjaro, which is a dormant volcanic mountain. It’s the tallest mountain of the African continent and the highest free standing mountain in the world! I’ll get to more of Kili in a later post. More on Moshi. Moshi is a lovely town with even lovelier people. There are a lot of tourists given the popularity of hiking the mountain and also a lot of volunteers from the states and elsewhere that have decided to call Moshi their home. But what’s great is that you don’t get the ‘tourist’ vibe at all. All the mzungus (white people is the translated term. I know. Even I was called a mzungu because I was a foreigner. And it’s not at all meant to be derogatory) speak fluent swahili for the most part. Kiswahili is the national dialect of Tanzania, it is also the dialect of the surrounding countries I mentioned above that are in East Africa. I think it’s a beautiful language. The intonations and emphasized vowels make it seem like you’re singing happily. Hmm.. what else about Moshi? Moshi produces a lot of resources such as maize, sunflower oil, millet, beans, bananas etc. The local tribes are the Chagga tribe and the Maasai tribe. I’ll get into more of that later as well.

Anyways, I flew out of JFK and had a connection in Amsterdam. I wish I was able to visit Amsterdam this trip but I wanted to spend as much time as I could in Tanzania and many years ago I spent some time in Amsterdam so it was a quick layover of my eyes being overstimulated with fake tulips, heineken beers, and cheese then I was on my way to Tanzania.

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My flight landed around 8PM and we deplaned in the middle of the runway in the tiny Kilimanjaro Airport. For being an International Airport it had the bare minimum when landing. Immediately I was in line for customs and once I got through that a few steps more and I was at baggage claim. Easy peasy.

I got in a day before most of the people in the program were scheduled to arrive.  I had booked a hotel to get my bearings about me and get some good rest before I started the program. What was cool is that coincidentally the people I sat next to on the plane also booked the same hotel. It was a very lovely mother and her 2 also lovely daughters. They had booked safaris and such to celebrate one of the daughter’s college graduation. When we got to our hotel and settled a bit I met them at the bar and we chatted and hung out for a bit.

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The next morning I met them for breakfast and bid them a good trip. Unfortunately, it was raining so there wasn’t too much I could do and the views were a bit restricted. I caught the tail end of the rainy season my first few days in Moshi. But it wasn’t too bad as the hotel grounds were beautiful. I talked to other guests staying at the hotel headed to climb the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and tried to learn some swahili from the bartender.

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I was getting picked up by the CCS drivers around noon so I had some time to relax beforehand but I was anxious to meet people and see the house and what not. When the drivers, Baba (Baba means father. It is said out of respect. Just like if it’s an older woman who likely has kids you call her Mama) John and Joseph picked me up we went to the airport to pick up 4 others that were on the same flight. As we waited Baba John and Joseph taught me a lot of Swahili. I already knew how to say hello or hey ‘Jambo’ and thank you ‘Asante” but they taught me how to say things like how is your morning/afternoon/evening, my name is, how much is that, car, brother, sister, etc.

Once the others finally arrived we had an hour drive northeast to Moshi. It was a beautiful drive. Endless crops of maize and sunflowers. It was during that drive when I really felt ‘holy shit I’m In Africa’.

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Once we arrived at homebase we met Mama Thea, our program director, and were greeted with fresh mango and guava juice. Mama Thea has been with CCS for a number of years and gave us a brief intro and welcome to Moshi. We were to have our complete intro once everyone arrived in the next day or so.

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It was myself and Nicole, one of the people we picked up at the airport, who were in our room first. Honestly, I expected the accommodations and bathroom situation to be worse so I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. I’ve had roommates on and off for the past 14 years but I’ve never had to share my room with anyone other than a boyfriend so I’m happy to report that it was an easy adjustment and we all got along very well and our shower and toilet schedules were not an issue in the least. All of that was definitely the biggest relief as I had some anxiety around it all.

A lot of the group arrived later that night after Nicole and I fell asleep. We woke up so confused with they got in; not knowing what the hell was happening or what time it was. And they didn’t even know we were sleeping in the rooms so there was a bit of chaos and confusion. hah!

The rest of the group got in the next day. That day we had an orientation, introduced ourselves to each other, staff included, and learned more about CCS’s involvement in the community. So much info to take in!

It was a bit overwhelming at first trying to get settled in and what not along with the jet lag and the simple fact I was in Tanzania. Also, the excitement and nervousness of volunteering kicked in hard. Nervousness seemed to be the group consensus as none of us were teachers and only 1 of the volunteers had done this previously. We didn’t know what we were getting into! Good thing we left our expectations in our home countries because we were definitely in for a ride!

More on my time in Tanzania to be continued. I am really enjoying reliving my experience in Tanzania by telling you all from the beginning how things played out. I want to hold on to these feelings as long as possible…