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Student Reflections: On Return From Tanzania

March 03, 2015

Our Boston private school was eager to welcome back this week the five high school students and two teachers who spent two weeks of service learning in Tanzania last month. Upon their return, the group shared some moving reflections on their time in the African country.

  • The Lake Natron region of Tanzania in Africa is pictured.
  • British International School of Boston students visit the Lake Natron region of Tanzania in Africa.

For two weeks, a group of five students and two teachers from the British International School of Boston, a private school in Boston, traded in classrooms for the African country of Tanzania. And what they learned, it seems, are some of the greatest lessons of their lives.

During their first week in the country, the students worked with others from Nord Anglia Education schools around the world to volunteer at a primary school and orphanage, refurbishing their classrooms and living spaces and working with the local children.

Their second week in Tanzania, however, brought the students even closer to the challenges of daily life in Africa. The group traveled to a remote Maasai village near Tanzania's Lake Natron, working with local sustainability experts, the village leaders and a group of students from a Maasai school to create a sustainable garden at the school. The garden project will be maintained by the local leaders and students going forward, and will aim to provide much needed food for the local students, who currently often eat only one meal provided by the school each day.

Our students and teachers say this experience is one they will never forget:

"These last two weeks have been the most amazing time of my life. I remembering entering Tanzania and not believing I was there. Now I'm leaving and I wish I could've stayed longer, asking myself how time flew by so quickly.

This trip has exposed me to so many adventures that i will never forget: like the friends I met, the culture I was exposed to and feelings I carry with me. These plus so much more are building the individual I'm developing into. Experiences like going to Tanzania will teach me lifelong lessons like interacting with people by means of gestures rather than language or giving back to people who have less and pouring your heart into it.

If it weren't for this trip I wouldn't grow into the person I am now. Even though it was only two weeks I have learned so much more than I ever imagined. So thank you Tanzania and everyone involved!" - Victoria W.


"Looking back over the past two weeks, I cannot express my experience in words although I will try. It has been an amazing two weeks with memories that I will hold close forever. One of the words that come into my head whilst looking back is "privileged".

I have always had the idea that being "privileged" meant something along the lines of living in a first world country, going to a good school, having enough food and water, etc. Before our trip, my image of being underprivileged was pretty much the exact opposite (lacking any personal experience).

Going to Tanzania definitely has helped me understand the difference between the two. I always thought that being underprivileged would negatively affect the attitude and perspective of a person, however I found that not to be the case. Children laugh and play in the streets, wave at tourists passing by, and socialize with each other on their way to fetch water. These children, obviously lacking basic necessities, experience the same amount of joy and happiness (perhaps even more) than people who live in first world countries.

Around 95% of the population in Tanzania live in poverty, and many only have enough money to provide one meal a day for their children. Before and after going to school, girls generally help their mothers cook, clean and fetch water, whilst boys typically help their fathers in the fields.

Another way I would describe my experience is heartbreaking. Driving down the dusty roads on our way to to Lake Natron, kids who could not have been more than 8 or 9 would stand at the edge of the road shouting and begging for "Maji" (water) or "chakula" (food). It was heartbreaking continuing past these children without providing any adequate support or solution to benefit them.

However, I would also describe what I have experienced in Tanzania to be an example for anyone living in a more fortunate environment. Respect, harmony, and tranquility are all things that I have experienced here more than in any other place I have been. I have never been more welcomed than I have been in Tanzania, and I truly believe that Tanzania holds some of the happiest and friendliest people I will ever meet. I have made so many memories that I will never forget and I have gained so many different skills from this expedition that will definitely prove to be extremely beneficial in the future.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us get to where we are, your effort and money has definitely been deeply appreciated." -- Sofia M.

"Visiting the Lake Natron region has been fantastic and has provided me huge insight into the Maasai culture. Our camp is situated right next to an engank (Maasai huts) in a boma (Maasai territory) and most people in the area are Maasai.
Though geographically close to Arusha, the Lake Natron area of Tanzania could not be any more different. They speak another language, it is rural, not urban and the people are all from one tribe (the Maasai). This has given me an opportunit to emmerse myself in yet another culture, and this one I find particularly fascinating. So much so that I would very much like to become accepted as a Maasai. I'm not sure I would want to live with them, but I would definitely want to be part of the clan."