In their first few days in Tanzania, the seven BISB students and two staff members spent their time volunteering at the Kitefu School. The students primarily worked to build and improve teacher accommodations at the school, making cement, laying bricks and a lot more. Read more about their first few days of work here.
After their days of community service, the group took a short break, traveling on safari for two days with other Nord Anglia Education students and teachers. The groups saw lions, elephants, giraffes and more, but while they enjoyed the adventure of the safari, the experience brought up hard questions, too.
"The safari was amazing- one of the best experiences there are- however, it made me feel uncomfortable," student Carlos G. wrote in a blog post last week. "We were basically tourists which brought up some irony to this trip. It was a great way to feel the contrast from two completely different perspectives in which to travel somewhere. It as well made me think over and over of the camp we are staying at, which for me is basically a 5 star hotel and I feel that I am being helped more than I am helping."
Student Adrianna A. said that taking time away from volunteering to relax and go on safari gave her time to think about the entire Tanzania trip experience thus far, and helped her refocus on her motivations to join the trip.
"Yes, within Tanzania people are 'struggling' in what we, Westerners, believe struggling is (no electricity, education, elaborate building establishments)," she wrote in a blog post last week. "But are we really helping by coming in large numbers of groups over the course of many years to help groups of people and towns that have grown accustomed to their own way of living? Yes, of course, we can improve with some things and can modernize and I understand how that's a good thing, but sometimes I wonder if our actions, although well-meaning, changes the way a certain culture grows and prospers."
Upon returning from safari, the BISB group returned to service work, this time visiting the nearby Ngrisi village to meet local residents, build goat sheds and supply goats to families there and install solar-powered lighting in some residences.
It was these experiences, students and staff said, that were some of the most moving of their trip so far.
"After we visited the village we went and started to install goat sheds, solar lights and smokeless stoves," wrote student Hannah S. "The group I was in managed to get half way through building the goat shed and completed the solar light. It felt really nice to be personally instilling these things into people's homes. It felt more rewarding and personal which was really nice."
Student Kira T. wrote of her experience, "I was building the goat shed with a few friends which was really good fun and we worked quickly. Today we are going to finish the shed and give the family a female goat for the shed, to help them provide. This job really made me feel really good because I could see the family that we were helping, with a grandmother taking care of a daughter and a young son, and they were watching us do this and they seemed really happy."
This week, the group will be departing for the more remote Lake Natron region of Tanzania, where the students and staff will continue the development of a sustainable farming site started last year in a Maasai village.
Over the weekend, the group got to meet with local experts leading the sustainable farming project and learn more about the work they'll be doing.
"I cannot believe we will actually be going," wrote student Victoria G
. "It is amazing to think that we will be helping a village achieve a goal they set for themselves. A goal they will be working on to reach and we will serve as a source of motivation.
Natron will allow us to learn new skills such as working out numbers and spaces to produce enough food for approximately 560 people, it will permit us to improve our communication skills between us and with people we have never met or even speak the same language as us and it will provide us with the space to learn about ourselves, our homes, our culture and out way of living. "