By Sara Strawczynski, KF11 Tanzania
Five months after boarding a plane to San Francisco, it’s time to wrap up my Kiva Fellowship. For my last post, I’d like to honour a tradition set by past Tanzanian Kiva Fellows (see posts by Alec Lovett KF4; Jara Small, KF5; and Jennifer Gong, KF9) and share a few of my observations from this crazy and charming country. Hope you enjoy!
You know you are in Tanzania when…
- Handshakes can last several minutes –as long as it takes to get through daily greetings.
- If it takes under an hour to get a few kilometres by dallah-dallah (bus), you start to wonder why the traffic is so light.
- You hum along to the rhythm of clanging coins, the refrain of the bus conductor soliciting fares.
- You ask yourself: ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ because you see that daily, along with processions of goats and cows.
- Hair salons feature cartoons of Obama, Eminem, Che Gueverra, and Julius Nyerere (Tanzania’s first and most beloved President) for stylish inspirations.
- You know all the best spots for chapatti (flatbread) and maandazi (donuts).
- Your colleagues are wearing sweaters and complain that it is freezing outside. As usual, you are still sweating.
- Many toddlers look at you and then run towards you at full speed to give your knees a hug. A few toddlers look at you and burst into tears.
- You try to work in Swahili time, which refers to hours since sunrise. Hour 0 is 6am, but you often forget, and this has caused you to miss events and reschedule meetings that should take place at 3:30 (9:30AM) because you think it will be too late to get started.
- You are invited and encouraged to attend celebrations (weddings etc) of people you just recently met, and they genuinely hope you can take part
And finally, Karibu (welcome) is the word you hear most often, which is fitting because since you first arrived, you’ve felt nothing but warmth and caring from all the wonderful people you’ve met!
Want to add to the list for Tanzania or start a new one from a different country? Consider becoming a Kiva Fellow and check out program details here.
Sara Strawczynski is finishing up her time as a Kiva Fellow where she served with four different Field Partners in Rwanda and Tanzania.