Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Real Thing

Everyone has been asking me about my trip and I keep saying the same things over and over again, “it was amazing.” It’s kind of hard to explain everything I learned and experienced because it’s all a matter of taking it to heart. I don’t think a person could understand just how emotionally attached I got to the country if I tried to explain to them everything I saw and the people I met. The country is so different than home its unbelievable. I wish so badly that Americans, especially the wealthy, could experience what I did. They would take everything for granted and life would be so much easier. In America, children spend hundreds of dollars on video games and toys. They are never satisfied because there is something new to buy and they want and beg until they get. Then, yet again, these children want another game to play with when they get bored of what they just got. Tanzania isn’t full of all the electronics and toys. Walking around the village of Maji ya Chai, I saw many people outside, enjoying and taking pleasure with the things nature provided them. Children have fun playing with sticks and a handmade soccer balls. Rolling a tire around is just as enjoyable as any other game.

Parents are not the only ones that provide for the family. Children as young as four years old are seen walking with their livestock and getting water miles away from their home. These children have a responsibility to keep their family supplied with water and they are heavily relied on. Having a pair of shoes is lucky because many of the people walk around barefoot, begging for a pair of shoes to relieve all the pain from stepping on such rough grounds.

All I keep thinking about is how lucky I am to live in America, but then again, I think about how life would be if I had been born in a country like Tanzania. I think about my education and if I would even have one. I wonder if I would be a happier person if I didn’t know there was so much more I could have somewhere else; what would I know about the world? Would I think I had everything where I was? Thinking about this scares me to death because going from my life to theirs would be incredibly difficult. I struggled with the lack of warm and clean water. I was always dirty, even after I showered. To be honest though, the dirt didn’t bother me. My feet were always brown, no matter what and my clothes always had dirt or sweat stains. I hate to say it felt good, but it did. I didn’t have to worry about my appearance because everyone else was also just as dirty as I was, if not dirtier.

I’m completely overwhelmed back at home. I have so many clothes to choose from. My closet is probably as big as half of a house in Tanzania. I cleaned out and sold and donated the clothes I knew I would never wear again. Somehow, my closet is still completely full even though I got rid of more then half of my stuff. Since being home, I’ve worn the simple shorts and a t-shirt. When I change, I put the shirts back in the clean pile because I know I can wear things more than once before washing them, even if I stain my clothes with my lunch. Brushing my teeth feels amazing, but I feel guilty having a warm shower.

I don’t care how I look anymore to people. They can think what they want and I know I can ignore them. In the five days I’ve been home, I’ve received a prank call and someone has already put stuff on my car. I don’t care though. When these types of things happened before I went to Africa, and it happened MANY times, I would cry and complain about it. Now, I honestly don’t care what people say or do to me. They mean nothing. They know nothing. If people like this had the chance to experience what I did, they would change their behavior like I did. I’m so much calmer and patient. I don’t complain about being bored. I admit that I complained that there wasn’t any food but cereal in my house, but I guess that’s still a lot more then what the people I met on my trip have. So there’s not much need to keep whining about that. I might as well be happy that I at least have some sort of food, even if I don’t end up eating it.

Like I said, I don’t think it’s possible to explain my entire trip, even if I said everything we did through a blog. There’s more to my trip then the pictures I took. Behind the scenes, there’s a part of me that wants to cry when I think about what I experienced because it was so special. But I think a smile should come about before the tears because I’ve learned and grown so much as a person. I didn’t think a vacation based on my camera could have such an effect on me, but seeing the smiles through poverty, seeing the wildlife, seeing and meeting such kind people that don’t even know what judging a person is, has touched me so deeply and all I want to do is tell my story, even if it doesn’t make much sense to everyone.

Monday, July 5, 2010

There's more to come

I've wanted to post a blog for a while, like a really good one that explains so much more about my trip other than what we did. But I have yet to finish my document(s) filled with my feelings. There's so much to say and I don't want to post until I'm sure I've said everything that needs to be put in writing. So hopefully tomorrow or the day after, I'll have a new long heartfelt post.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

June 28

We started the day by learning how to take panoramic pictures along with HDR photos. We also were taught how to take light tunnel pictures and night photos with lights. After lunch we had a long discussion between all of the students of the school here and us. It was basically a Q&A where we mostly answered their questions about America. I think we taught them a lot because many Africans believe all mzungus have money and they believe Hollywood is how we all live. So we basically corrected their point of view which I think makes a big difference. They also taught us many interesting facts about Africa and told us how they keep occupied, what they wanted to do in life, what they stressed and worried about, racism in America, how the World Cup was going, politics, the environment, and any other questions anyone had. What amazed me the most was their answers to what they worried about: rape, HIV/AIDS, and going against God. Just discussing that topic was interesting because they said many people in Africa are too embarrassed to get tested for diseases so that’s why HIV/AIDS spreads easily here. They also informed us about the different religions and how they are looked down upon if they get tested because they might have the illness. The discussion of all these topics probably took an hour and a half, but I was really interested the whole time and participated in discussion most of the time.

We worked on our on assignment projects the rest of the day and presented them tonight in front of all of the students, kids, and adults here. Mine was on the teeth of Tanzania and my presentation went well as did mostly everyone else. After we all presented, the children and students brought out a cake while dancing that said “KARIBU NI TENA” which translates “Welcome again.” It was definitely an interesting cake; white cake with chocolate pudding-like frosting with carrot shavings on top. It wasn’t too bad unless you had too many carrots on your piece. The children went to bed and the students all took night photos with flashlights, writing in the sky. Music started playing so we all started dancing which was really fun and entertaining for about an hour.

We’re leaving tomorrow and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think I’m excited just to go home and relax, but this experience has been so great that I just want to remember it and keep it going.

June 29-30

We flew home. The first flight went well- I actually slept a bit and we had our own tvs. Mine worked some of the time which got annoying when I wanted to watch a movie and couldn't. So I watched our flight go over Greece and then I think I fell back asleep. Oh, and I sat next to Lindsey which was fun. And there was a gorgeous guy a few rows ahead that was fun to look at when he stood up a couple times.. haha

I bought a hoodie in Amsterdam during the layover along with gummy airplanes and a shot glass to add to my never used collection.

The second flight was a little more interesting. There weren't personal tvs so I watched parts of Alice and Wonderland and Invictus on the community tvs. Unfortunately, one of the tvs was kind of far to see and the other was right above my head so it was hard to watch. I sat next to 2 girls, one my age and the other was like 25. I found out that the one my age had just graduated from Foster High School and was going to Baylor and the other was just a friend of hers. So when I was working on my book on my computer, I showed them my pictures and told them about the trip.

July 1

Back at school, I worked on my book and exchanged group photos with the other students while it poured rain outside. I didn't finish my book until I got home.

July 2

I went to warped tour and was going to buy a pair of sunglasses. The black man selling them had an accent so I asked where he was from and he said Africa. So I asked if he spoke Swahili and I think he said yes. So I started saying a few things in the language and ended up getting my glasses for $5 instead of $10. Success with my Swahili knowledge!!!