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On Safari in Tanzania

February 20, 2015

Our students and staff in Tanzania spent the last two days on safari in the African country, and returned with some amazing stories and interesting viewpoints on the experience. Read the student reflections below for their accounts.

From Sofia:

After waking up at 5 o'clock, I embarked on my first safari. What started off as an amazing experience developed into something even better, yet I couldn't help but question if a safari was the right thing to be doing on a community service trip to Tanzania. Heading off in the gigantic trucks and buses with clouds of exhaust billowing out of it made me question the importance of the safari expedition.

The day before, we completed our second and final day of community service at the Kitefu School, where electronics were foreign objects of interest to the students and decent classrooms were not something they were provided with. These children can barely use another form of travel than walking, much less buying gas. So there we were in our massive vehicles for a leisure activity, knowing WE, not them, were increasing the pollution levels on a trip designed for community service and on an activity that most of the local Tanzanians have never experienced.

The safari was definitely something exciting and out of the ordinary, yet I think that I would have maybe appreciated it more if we went before the service elements, as after I got the feeling that what we were doing was not quite right or beneficial to the country.

From Victoria:

Seeing elephants only meters away amazed me, and I was left feeling swept off my feet by their natural beauty. But that didn't amount to the unconditional satisfaction and warm-hearted feelings I held after working at the school. Before the safari I was informed by one of our drivers that most Tanzanians don't have enough money to go to the national park. So even though going acted as a reward for the community service we did, I found myself wondering, 'Why am I here?' 

I posed this question for two reasons. One, the mere fact that I would like to help the community more, especially because some local people can't afford 3 meals a day. The second is that I felt badly that I was able to see these amazing animals while locals weren't able to even though they have been living there their entire lives.

But in that moment I realized something extremely important: I can't fix all of the problems in the world and feel bad about every single thing, or else it will bring me down. But I am going to try the best I can to share the opportunities I have had with the people who equally earn it.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the safari, but I always remember the reality that is going on outside the borders of my world that hold other people who are struggling. That's what keeps me going to try and make a difference in those lives who deserve an opportunity.

From Teal:

Overall, the safari was fantastic. It was a great break from the physical excursions that we had put ourselves through during the service project. Looking at all sorts of exotic animals was really cool, but what really made the safari was doing it with friends.

Spending two days in a row on a bus served as a really good catalyst for intermingling between the schools. It was my first time speaking to so many of the kids from other schools on the trips and immediately I regretted not doing so three days ago. Especially since many of them have now left. 

I'm very glad we went on safari, laughing and looking at animals really helped me relax, physically and mentally. It was a nice break, but now I'm super pumped to start getting ready for Lake Natron and get back to helping people.