I had only been in Tanzania for three days but every cell in my body felt overwhelmed and exhausted. The initial excitement of finally making it half way around the world had worn thin and the combination of jet lag and a racing mind that couldn’t keep quiet through the night hours had left me sleep deprived. Everything was new – the language, the sounds, and the energy. I knew living in another country would mean all those things but I found myself lost. December seemed so far away and the vastness of all that could happen in the next four months struck me. I didn’t want to say it out loud but I was questioning if I had made the right decision.
Two weeks later, every ounce of hesitation and fear about living in Tanzania had fled. I had completed the Sustainable Agriculture orientation and I was in the midst of my first week assisting the Global Service Corps staff with community trainings in keyhole gardens and grain storage construction in a nearby rural village when life started to feel pretty great. Village members were coming to our trainings to learn how to build and maintain simple, low-cost, food security technologies that would help to provide their families with organically grown vegetables and a means to store their grain after harvest. The work was beyond rewarding.
I remember walking back to my homestay covered in dust thinking about all I had experienced in the past few days. My arms were sore from shoveling and my cheeks were sore from smiling. My body was flooding with excitement and wonder. Suddenly 14 more weeks didn’t feel like enough. I felt proud to be volunteering with a service-learning program that had such established and meaningful relationships with the community. I was not only learning about issues that broadened my perspective on the world but was also contributing to solutions that made everyone feel more hopeful and connected. I couldn’t imagine traveling in any other way. I knew all the time and effort I have put into saving money and preparing for this trip was going to be well worth it. I was beginning to find my stride and couldn’t wait to see what the next day would bring.
Lilah T. Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security Program, Tanzania
For more information on GSC’s Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security Program in Tanzania, click here