Maggie Engaging with the Locals in Tanzania

Submitted by Maggie Rodney, Abroad101’s Global Ambassador in Tanzania

Kifaru (Rhino)...My home for the next month!

Hey all, Maggie coming at you from Moyo Hill Camp in Tanzania! I’m officially halfway through my second day of classes here, and I’m actually pleasantly surprised at how acclimated I feel, which I did not expect. All of the people in the program – students, staff and professors – are really amazing people. The students all seem extremely interested and willing to explore everything around us, which I think is absolutely crucial to having a successful time here. The professors all have extensive study and knowledge in their fields, and all seem so excited to be teaching us what they know. Although, they like to call me out on the fact that I’m a finance major, and pretty much the only non-science major here. But, really, that shouldn’t stop anyone with an interest in the subject from coming; I have had no trouble so far with the coursework thus far, and we’re pretty well under way. I would suggest that anyone thinking about coming has at least a basic understanding of biology, though.

One of the local houses in the town of Rhotia

The local culture here is amazing. The small town of Rhotia is only a short walking distance away, so during our free time we’re free to wander into the dukas(shops) and get soda, snacks, souvenirs, and some of the stores even have great produce (which you have to be very careful about). There’s even a fantastic local tailor where you can buy fabric and have him make amazing dresses, skirts, shirts –whatever you want. I’m waiting on a dress and a skirt right now!

Two young boys attending the local primary school

Mostly, the people are super friendly and eager to interact with us, especially the younger kids, who all run at us screaming “MZUNGU” (foreigner) every time we walk by. However, it’s also evident that some people have developed a very negative view of Americans and what we stand for. The school is very committed to keeping a strong relationship with the town, and I’ve discovered that the best way to navigate around is just to smile at everyone and try really hard to speak semi-decent Swahili. (We’ve all learned at least how to greet respectfully.) All in all, the biggest issue we’ve run into is the people accosting us as we get in and out of our trucks with goods for sale. Earlier today, I traded a packet of pens for a necklace. But they also try to pull off our watches, and force us to give them our cameras and bags, so we have to be really careful.

There are so many new experiences that I could talk about that I can’t possibly discuss all of them in one post. As soon as I can, I’ll post a basic tour of our camp and give a deeper academic update. And, as I’m still soaring on the “new experience” high, I’ll be sure to let everyone know when the real culture shock hits me. But, for now, kwaheri!