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Surprises at Every Corner.

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I am surprised at how different countries so close can be. In both Kenya and Ethiopia, we regularly bumped into people who spoke some degree of English. Here in Tanzania, even in our hotel the language barrier is difficult. Also, the 95% humidity here greeted us as we walked off the plane. We found ourselves sweating more than desired upon our arrival and that was at 2:30am

We arrived to our hotel around 4am with enough time to shower, sleep a bit, and eat breakfast before our friends at Haven of Peace Academy (HOPAC) picked us up at 9:45 am for our program at their campus.

At HOPAC we tag-teamed various sessions before hosting a post-lunch college fair. HOPAC students volunteered to help guide us to sessions, help get us water, and at lunch these students stood in line for us and served us our food. It was a beautiful gesture and we very touched that they were so willing and hospitable. Though they were directed by their counselors Darryl Rustad & Rebecca Laarman, their hearts shone through greatly.  One student in particular shared his skill in magic tricks while we dined. 

During the fair we were surprised by the types of questions students asked.  One student pulled a chair up to my table, sat down, and began to ask me about the spiritual climate of Westmont and he took notes throughout our conversation. Students were intentional and engaged.

That day we also learned of a sudden holiday. That day, Wednesday, the new president announced that Thursday, Inauguration Day, would be a national holiday. So our visit for the next day was to be cancelled as a result. After confirming with Sheena, the counselor at International School of Tanganyika, that their campus would be closed and that we could not work out something around it, Rebecca Laarman at HOPAC reserved a van for us and coordinated two students to join her as our escorts around town on Thursday since they also were without school /work. 

Thursday was an incredible blessing for our team! Not only were we blessed by Rebecca and the two students (Lidia & Naomi), but this was our first day of rest with no official work or travel. Many of our team had started to feel symptoms of a cold, others were experiencing digestive difficulty, and being allowed our first FULL NIGHT of sleep was a huge answer to prayer for our immune systems and tired bodies. Some of us slept for eight hours, others for 10. It was truly a gift to be able to do so. During our outing on Thursday we visited the Tinga Tinga School and were able to watch artists create pieces in a style unique to Tanzania. We also met up with Sheena, the counselor whose school we were meant to visit with during the new national holiday. 

Tanzania is interesting. It's a split country between: Roman Catholic or Christian and Muslim people. The humidity upon our arrival was 95% humidity (very reminiscent of Samoa -where my family is from) and while it's tropical and beautiful, it's also conservative and dirty. Most women wear mid-calf to floor length skirts and cover their shoulders even in the midst of this ridiculous, humid heat! With few options for rubbish collection and disposal, many people dump their rubbish in the rivers or ocean. And while the people are overall peaceful and non-violent, parts of the city are rampant with theft and drugs, many systems are historically corrupt, and Masai men walk around the city with machetes attached to their belts just hanging out. 

Friday we spent the day at the U.S. Embassy. We were greeted and hosted by the Department of Public Affairs. Joshua Mlay coordinated for five public high schools to join us for an open, public college fair. We were wiped clean of both our energy and materials during that fair. Joshua forewarned us that students' major question would be more of a statement of expectation that we have full ride scholarships for each of hem, and he was right. They also asked other questions that uncovered the depth of the need and lack of resources in Tanzania we had been told about all week. A few of the students I spoke with at length implored me to build strong relationships in Tanzania and Dar Es Salaam so they would have better access to college information, if not then please find a way to visit twice a year if not once a month. This same student along with others shared how well Mr. Darryl and Ms. Rebecca at HOPAC had helped them with their SAT prep and college search. One young man asked me if I had heard of HOPAC. When I said yes, he asked me if I visited and met Ms. Rebecca. When I said yes, his face lit up and he asked me earnestly how she was doing. 

Our time in Tanzania has been powerful in so many ways. I am encouraged to learn about the ways Christian high school administrators like Darryl & Rebecca and community leaders like Joshua are empowering and encouraging this next generation here in Tanzania. 

Right now it is Saturday evening, 11pm and we are at out gate. Tonight we take off onto our second to last country:  Germany via Switzerland. All praise to the Lord. Here we go! 

Assistant Director of Admissions

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