Editor’s note: Jennifer R. is a current participant in the HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention Program in Tanzania. She will be working with us for the next six months. We look forward to receiving more posts from her throughout her time in Tanziania! Thanks for the post Jennifer!
Fun Facts about my new life and home…
Arusha has definitely been an interesting place to live in. I have only been here a few weeks now, but here are some first impressions:
- The amount of dust is outstanding, it covers everything. Because of this, I have severely changed my view of cleanliness.
- Almost everyone, EVERYONE, knows how to say “Good Morning” in English. This is how I am greeted all day and night, no matter what time it really is. I found out it is because these are the first words kids learn in English, so they can go to school and say “Good Morning Teacher”.
- Tanzanians talk very softly, sometimes I have to make the students stand up and ask them to yell just to hear them. But on the street, everyone here also LOVES to say hello to the Muzungus, or white foreigners. They will yell “hello” or “Mambo” at you and get louder and louder until you just go ahead and answer back “Hello” or “Poa”. They seem to get a huge thrill from this. It is normal and customary for Tanzanians to always greet each other, but we are the only ones who get yelled at. We are truly fish out of water here, I am enjoying being different, but it is definitely an eye-opening experience.
- The students in our class move their desk forward instead of their chair back when they are called on to stand and read or come to the board.
- Herds of goats wander through our field next to our classroom, it is surreal to watch out of the classroom window.
- We run on an entirely different schedule here, on African time, which usually means everything is always late and you can’t seem to help it. They are even worse than New Orleans people, my friends and family at home you have met your match!
- I also get a great work-out because we walk a lot and right now our school for day camp is a 30 minute walk from my house up the side of Mt. Meru. Yesterday it rained all day, so the road was very muddy and we had a hilarious morning trying to climb up while getting very dirty. But somehow, the African counterparts stay pristinely clean, I will have to try and learn their secret soon.
- It is winter right now in Arusha, for June and July, and it is COLD. I am actually very cold in the mornings since we are at higher altitude up the mountain and Arusha is at a higher altitude than most of Tanzania. So in a few pictures I am wearing long sleeves and a jacket, but I swear I am actually in Africa. It is usually beautiful by the afternoon and as summer approaches in just a few weeks, it will be scalding hot and I will want some of the cold back.
- We went to watch some of the UN International Criminal Court for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. A man was on trial for possibly throwing grenades at crowds of people, helping to drive killers into neighborhoods for mass murder, and betraying those hiding in his house by turning them over to the violent militia. He denies it of course, but it was definitely a surreal experience to hear a prosecutor ask someone if they have done these heinous things. But in true UN style, it is slightly disorganized and the lawyers stumble about some. There are 10 or so for the defense and 10 or so for the prosecution, each from a different country, and 3 judges also from different countries. You listen in with a headset that translates for you and watch through thick glass. The “witness” is hidden behind a curtain so he cannot be identified by anyone sitting in the gallery. But after the prosecutor asks a question that the witness refuses to answer for personal security reasons, they make it a “closed session” and kick all of us observers out. I might try again later to see more, they publish a schedule and I can try to pick an interesting spot to report back on.
- It has been such a phenomenal and fun cultural experience, and it only seems to get better and more interesting with every passing day.