A Student Development Experience in a Development Context

The Beginning of a Journey

In less than two days I will be arriving in Karatu, Tanzania and beginning what is sure to be a life changing adventure. During my six week stay, I will be participating in a service learning project where education is taken outside learning objectives and grades and thrust into an environment where the curriculum is your personal experience. I have thought a lot about what I expect to receive from my own experience, and mainly I am expecting a lot of surprises. Living in an environment vastly different from Winnipeg is going to be filled with many unknowns from the food, to the culture, people, geography and living conditions… and I can’t wait to experience it all.The only goal I have set for myself during my Badili Mtziamo experience is to absorb as much as I possibly can. I want to eat Tanzanian food, drink Tanzanian drink, and dance to Tanzanian music, all while forging new relationships and understanding how Tanzanian people are both different and alike to Canadians. In return I will share my own small piece of Canadian culture with the people I meet and hope to provide a positive experience. However, in truth I have a feeling that I will receive more than I am able to give. I am entering this journey with an open mind and an open heart so that I can live in the moment and appreciate everything that is around me.

Having only ever traveled overseas once before, to Japan when I was fourteen, there is much that I am looking forward to. The beautiful landscapes, the vibrant colours, and the exotic animals are all going to be new experiences for me. But it is the work that we will be doing with UMATU that I am most excited for. UMATU is a group of HIV-positive women running their own businesses, one of which sells textile items such as bags. With a lifelong passion for textiles and sewing I cannot wait to meet these women and share our common ground.

Despite the lists of things to do, things to buy, things to read, and so on that overwhelmed me during my last week in Canada, I do feel prepared for this journey. I am at ease with living in a foreign culture and the challenges it will certainly bring. I am not afraid of leaving the comforts of my home for 6 weeks, the longest amount of time that I have ever been away. I am ready for the adventures, the joys, the successes, and the challenges we are all about to face both as a team and on a personal level. I am ready to change the way I see things and gain a new perspective on this small blue world we all call home.



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