Implications of tourism in Tanzania

My study abroad experience was wonderful.There is no way I will be able to fully express it through writing.The full extent of my experience and feelings will remain with me in memory. During my journey I kept a detailed personal journal where I documented my experience. I may not include all the details in this particular essay. However, I will try to express somethings.

I first visited Kenya before going to Tanzania for my study abroad. I boarded the plane headed to Kenya my home country about a week before my study abroad. Kenya was absolutely wonderful. I reconnect with family that I had not seen in eight to ten years. I visited my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Although it was many years since I have been to Kenya, I instantly reconnected with family. Talking and interacting with family was as if resuming a conversation that had just been put on pause for a while, as if no time had passed between then and the time we last met. They were all ecstatic to see me. I travelled from Nairobi to Nyandarua to Mombasa, to Kapsabet. Kenya has changed and grown a lot, it’s wonderful! I truly cannot express the joy and experience I had in Kenya. These memories and feelings will remain with me.

After my week in Kenya, I boarded a bus headed to Arusha, Tanzania. The traveling time was about four hours. The view was wonderful, hills,plains and wild animals spread out. A student who was part of the study abroad group had also decided to visit Kenya. So we took the bus to Tanzania together. Four hours later we arrived and got picked up and driven to where we were to stay.

During the first four days, we were hosted by a small college. During this time, we explored the environment to get a feel of Tanzania. The rest of the students got a small crash course in Swahili, since I already knew Swahili, I helped them out a bit.
After that week, we started to travel to different parts of Tanzania. Most of our time in Tanzania was spent exploring and discussing the discourse surround ecotourism. We were not in a formal classroom. We learned about the positive and the negative aspects of ecotourism. We started in Maji ya Chai we traveled to Arusha National park to Lake Natron Conservation to Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Conservation Area and to Loliondo.

The positives aspects of ecotourism is that wild animals are conserved and not invaded upon by humans and people get an opportunity to visit and view the wild life. However, there is a down side to ecotourism. First, animals are glorified more that people. When tourists go to Africa, the majority only go on Safari to see animals, yet they never take the time to actually interact and know the people of Africa. When tourists visit Europe, they go and see human creation, human architecture, when tourist visit Africa, they only go to see wild life. Negative stereotypes concerning African people emerge due a lack of interaction and understanding on part of the tourist. Second, tourism lodges are so expensive that only rich people, mostly from Europe and America, can afford. Third, the conservation areas were designated and made by European nations, it’s not the Tanzanian government who made the conservation areas. This shown the colonialist connotation that the conservation areas have. Who said that European nations are the only ones who know how to conserve and take care of animals? Animals are designated such as huge area of land by the guidelines of European counties, while the Maasai people’s land is getting snatched away from them by conservation workers and investors. That is ridiculous. No one tells Europe and America what to do with their land. As we were speaking with the Maasai people of Tanzania, we leaned that the Maasai have their own mechanics on how they protect and conserve the animals. Each clan looks out to conserve a particular animal, this is their way to be stewards of the land that they acknowledge was given to them by God. I strongly agree with them.

My favorite part of my study abroad experience was meeting the people of Tanzania. I truly do miss the people. I miss the people I met when I went to church. They were so welcoming. Church service was wonderful, just like in Kenya, just like in the U.S. I ate lunch with them, joined their choir practice in the afternoon and was invited to visit by two ladies. I had a wonderful time, I miss them. The members of the Pastoral Woman’s Council (PWC) were great. They are a strong organization that empowers their community. There is so much I can say about them, but I need to summarize. The experience I had with them I will never forget. They educate the community regarding money, they educate the community by running a high school, they also fight against injustice regarding land by education the community about their rights.

The students that we met were also wonderful. They reminded me of my experience when I went to school in Kenya. They were very friendly, I made friends with them. We played, laughed and talked together. The people that hosted us were also so wonderful. I had a great time with them. They directed me on how to get African Style clothing tailored. We spoke about the differences between Tanzania and Kenya. We laughed and made jokes. I really connected with them well. It was great to be with my fellow Africans. There is just something wonderful about being with people like you, people who really understand you.

One of my goals is to travel to as many African counties as possible and interact with the wonderful people and see the wonderful treasure that lay in my home continent. After the study abroad ended, my adventure continued. I went back to Kenya to visit more family members. Before the study abroad, I had visited family in Nairobi and Nyandarua, after the study abroad, I visited family in Mombasa and Kapsabet. The experience was wonderful. I was there for about a week. Time flew by so fast and soon I boarded the plane heading back to the USA. It was great to come back to my mom, dad and sister although I missed my relatives. I will never forget this wonderful experiences. I thank God for giving me this opportunity. Although I am no longer there, the memories will remain.

Reflecting on my experience in Brazil

Reflecting is very important so that I can process and remember my experience. There are many things that I learned concerning Brazilian culture. Some activities that are memorable to me are such as the Capoeira workshop/kids’ performance, the workshop of leaning to play African instruments such as the drums and shakers, our visit to the Remanso community Quilombo, our visit to Steve Biko and our visit to the Afro-Brazilian clothing studio.

It was interesting to learn about Capoeira’s history. Capoeira is a combination of dance and fight. It was used as a form of self-defense for enslaved Africans during the time on slavery. This knowledge of the history and background and significance of the moves made our encounter with Capoeira more valuable as we learned some moves during the workshop and as we watched the kids play it. Because Capoeira is now used only as an art form and not a self-defense mechanism, it would be interesting in the future to see if Capoeira ever changes significantly throughout time. It was interesting to play the African instruments. I have never played them before. I particularly liked the shakers. They are so simple, yet can make complex sounds. African things are impressive, even the “simplest” things are so beautifully complex if you look long enough. The visit to the Remanso community Quilombo, was also very valuable. It was great to learn about the strong communities that runway slaves created. I love hearing stories of resistance against oppression, we do not hear resistance stories often enough. It was great to hear from the brother and sister that spoke to us about their personal life-stories. I love listening to peoples’ life-journeys.

I will compare one of these activities to my culture, I am Kenyan. I will comment concerning the visit when we met Goya Lopes who talked to us about Afro-Brazilian fashion. It was very interesting to see the whole process of cloth-making, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of this event was seeing the final product after everything was put together. I have many African clothing but until then I had not had the chance to see how the process of putting the African prints onto the fabric works. This was a good opportunity for me. The process begins with an artist dreaming up an Africa-inspired print design. Then the artist draws the print design on paper. Then that drawing is transferred to digital form on a computer making it possible for the design to be reproduced multiple times and in desired sizes. Then another machine (I am not sure of the name) is used to copy the digitized image onto a nylon-saturated-screen which is then sprayed with water to clean off part that are not part of the design. The next step is for two individuals to put paint over the screen which is placed over the fabric copying the design onto the fabric. Then the paint is dried and stays on the fabric. The designs we saw made were typical African style. The different prints really give character to the clothing. Then the style of the outfit itself is the finishing touch of the art work. African clothing is so distinct and beautiful.

Like I said before, this was a good opportunity for me because I got the see the process of putting the African prints onto fabric. This experience complemented an experience I had in my study abroad in Tanzania last year. This experience I had in Tanzania is similar to what would have happened if I was in Kenya, let me explain. While I was in Tanzania, I got African-style cloths made by a seamstress. These cloths were not ready-made cloths that one buys at the store. These cloths were made specifically for me. I went to a store that sold African-style-prints fabric (like the fabrics we saw made in Brazil), and I chose and bought the fabric that had the designs and colors that I liked. Then I took the fabric to the seamstress. She measured my size, I gave here the style I had searched and liked, she took note and she together with her assistants made me the cloths. The cloths were beautiful and very well done. Like I said, when it comes to clothing, Kenyan and Tanzanian style and process of making are similar, that is why I said that this experience I had in Tanzania is similar to what would have happened if I was in Kenya. When people want African-styled clothing, many people prefer to choose the prints and fabrics they like then they personally go and get fitted and their cloths are made by the seamstress instead of buying ready-made clothing like in a mall. In Tanzanian (which is similar to Kenya) I got to choose and buy the print design and fabric I wanted, I chose the particular style of the outfit itself that I wanted (unlike ready-made cloths such as in malls). My experience in Tanzania (which is similar to Kenya) complements my experience in Brazil because while Brazil, I got to see how artists design the prints to the point where the print designs are put on fabric. While in Tanzania I saw how the customer chooses the print design they like to the point where they have the cloths made. These two experiences got me to understand the full process from the point the design is born in the artists mind to the point where the customer is wearing the designed clothing.

One of the difficult aspects of this event was the fact that the country’s economy had negatively affected the business making it impossible to have more artists working together. But one thing that was good to hear was the fact that the artist has workshops that expose people, especially kids, to her work to inspire them. At least that’s a positive thing despite the economic hardships.

African and African-inspired clothing (made in Brazil) is truly beautiful, unique and distinct. I am proud to own and wear my African-styled clothing. The clothing represents the beautiful imagination, creativity and artistic talents of my people. Although Brazil is not Africa, Brazil really reflected that for me. I felt at home in Brazil.

Here are some photos of my experience in Brazil:

Uplifting/heartbreaking aspects of Brazil

My aim is to explore Black people’s history and culture by visiting as many places with Black people around the world as possible. Coming to Brazil and specifically Salvador which has the biggest population of Black people outside of Africa has been very eye opening for me. This place is reminiscent of my country Kenya. As in Kenya, people in Brazil are outside interacting with one another. Marketplaces are loud and busy. Kids play outside, people buy food by the roadside, the streets are buzzing with activity. This is very different from Seattle. It is so beautiful and sweet to come and be so hugged and kissed by the host mom and by other people. Personal space in Brazil is minimal, people like to be close and personal. This friendliness and warmth is the same as in Kenya, except people do not kiss as part of greetings in Kenya. Although I was not able to interact with people of Brazil as much as I would have liked to due to the language barrier (unlike in my Tanzanian study abroad), I none the less learned much through observation and experience. I saw how lively and friendly the people are. From the taxi drivers to the cashiers to the street vendors to the people at the beaches. I experienced the genuine hospitality that my host family provided for me. My host mom was great. We were been able to communicate mostly via Google translator. Although communication was of a different nature (gestures and google translator) due to the language barrier, I still enjoyed my interactions with her. She really took care of me while I was sick. She went above and beyond.

Some parts of my experience in Brazil were heartbreaking and some parts uplifting. It was heartbreaking to hear concerning the cruel history of slavery and of the racism that is currently present. However, it was uplifting when we went to the Steve Biko NGO. It was great to hear of the hard work that people are doing to combat racism.

One of the things that Steve Biko NGO does that stood out to me was the class they teach that is focused on Black awareness. It is important that they are combating eurocentric education by educating the students about Black ideas, history and cultures. Eurocentric education is very damaging because it presents a skewed view that looks down on and minimizes other people such as Black and Indigenous people, giving undue emphasis on European points of view.

The difficult part of this event was listening to the experiences that people had concerning racism. The story about the black lady that was unduly asked by the boss to make coffee simply because she was black while that was not part of the job description. The other story was of the black professor who was barely recognized as a professor simply because of his color. I have had many conversation concerning race in the U.S. I knew what expect, however I will never be used to the heartbreak of these stories. Talking about race issues will never be easy. When it comes to my country Kenya, race is not an issue because most people are black (there are many Asian and Indian immigrants there now, but Kenya is majority Black people). The issues with Kenya have to do with ethnicity. People can be discriminated upon based on their tribe. I cannot elaborate much on tribalism in Kenya because I immigrated to the U.S when I was young, however, I do know that it is a big issue in Kenya. Just as in Brazil, there are organizations in Kenya as there are also in U.S that are trying to help communities overcome discrimination and help better the society.

In the future, I would like to learn if and how Brazilian history books will be corrected to present the correct unbiased non-eurocentric history. As long as people are misinformed, attempts to better the society will not work. Apart from lessons concerning slavery and colonization, Black people need to be taught about their great history and about their great contributions to society. This kind of education is necessary to act as a mirror example to show that Black people can be successful because they were successful in the past. This education is necessary in order for Black people to get a better and fuller understanding of who we are so we can be inspired to succeed more and reach to greater heights.

Returning from The Imperial City…

I just returned this morning from a month in Peru and, boy, what a month it was.

My time in Peru was nothing short of life-changing. I feel so privileged to have spent a month with brilliant, passionate people who cared so much for learning and so much for the health of the environment and its residents. Everything was educational: the places, the locals, the group members, the professors, and the activities. Despite having only slept about 8 hours in the last three days, my heart feels so full and my mind feels so enriched by this experience.

Over the next week, I’ll be posting about my trip in chunks of two days. It was impossible to blog while in Peru; we rarely had a strong connection, and we were quite busy nearly every day. But now that I’m home, I’m so excited to share my travel stories with you readers! I hope that my stories – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the stressful, the hilarious and the emotional – will inspire others to explore this amazing blue and green gem we call home.

Stay tuned!

A Few Questions I’ve Received…

And their hopefully concern-relieving answers.

I’ve received a few questions about my study abroad experience and I’m going to try to answer them to the best of my ability~ FOR THE GREATER GOOD

 

1.) You weren’t there for a whole semester, right? Was it a special summer program kind of thing?

INDEED. This is a thing that may not apply to your particular experience— my school offers something called an Exploration Seminar, which takes place over 5 weeks in late August-early September. It’s worth 5 credits (we take 3 classes per quarter, at 5 credits each), and the credits apply to Fall quarter (so this fall quarter I’m physically attending only two classes, but still getting 15 credits worth). To my knowledge this isn’t something that many other schools do.

I have had friends on semester systems take full semesters abroad though (… in Ireland, but), and they enjoyed it very much. If you have any questions about the semester study abroad, I can forward them to her, if you like! It’s much more about getting into the swing of that country’s school system though, whereas mine was kind of like ~LET’S GO LIVE IN KOREA FOR FIVE WEEKS YAYYYY and some days we’ll even attend LECTURES OOOOOH~
2.) Does your school have a partnership with Kyunghee that allowed you to go?

Yes and no! We’re not one of Kyunghee’s ~official partners~ as far as I know, but we have connections there. Basically, we attended special lectures by Kyunghee professors. When we were at KAIST in Daejeon, we sat in on graduate-level courses. There were fifteen UW students in my program— it was specially designed to allow us to kind of float around, experiencing facets of Korea. I’M SORRY THIS IS VERY UNHELPFUL.
4.) Does one need to know a certain amount of Korean?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. You can’t really rely on everyone speaking English, though people do tend to speak a little. But all the street signs, subway navigation, etc. are in English. Knowing how to say please, hello, and thank you will take you ALL THE WAY. If you read Korean letters it’s also quite helpful, and only takes about an hour to learn at a rudimentary level if you do flashcards. But there were many people in my group who didn’t at all, and they had a great time.

More importantly than all that, I did not meet a single person who, if you were polite, wasn’t completely willing to help me get where I was going, buy whatever food I needed, etc. People are super nice. And this is something that I’ve encountered over and over again in Europe as well. I think the language/culture barrier was the most frightening thing for me before I went to Korea, but upon arriving there everything went incredibly smoothly. I wouldn’t let having a minimal knowledge of Korean dissuade anyone from going.
5.) And possibly most importantly: You seem to be a well traveled person, living in France etc. and I also get the impression that you’re pretty outgoing? Is it a stupid idea for a shy person to even consider exchange programs?

IT IS TRUE THAT I AM QUITE OUTGOING, HOWEVER! I am also kind of shy sometimes, and I think that if you’re shy, the joy you get out of study abroad will come from how comfortable you are with your shyness.

If spending time alone is something that you’re totally okay with, that is absolutely fine. As long as you’re smart about it, Korea is a very safe country. You can get plenty of enjoyment from wandering around Seoul alone, if that’s what you feel comfortable doing.

That being said, I have found making friends in a study abroad setting much easier than making friends in normal university classes. Foreign students generally find each other and clump together. Even if there are no students from your school on the trip, you will probably know the others from orientation or what have you. Abroad, everyone is kind of tetherless and alone and you basically become automatic friends with whoever is right there because you need to. It won’t be a situation where there’s a clique of people that is impossible to get into (though on all the trips I’ve been on there have tended to be a couple friends among the group)— everyone is sort of looking to be friends with whoever is around them, and if you just stick with the people that are in your group, you will never be lacking for friends.

For a shy person, at least in my experience, the hardest part of that is acknowledging that you have a right to be among that group, and to make sure to say things like “Hey, let me know what you’re doing later” so that people don’t forget to include you. Which can definitely be hard, but if you just keep in mind that EVERYONE IS AS ALONE AS YOU ARE it will hopefully get easier.

(also there will probably be one really assertive outgoing person who is really good at making plans and organizing people and has lots of ideas for what they want to do. Find this person. Stick with them.)

As for making friends with Korean students, IT IS A UNIVERSAL RULE THAT WHATEVER THE LOCALS OF A PLACE ARE LOVE FOREIGN STUDENTS. Everywhere I’ve been (… Europe and Korea…) people have wanted to ask me questions about America and show me stuff and talk to me and even just practice their English. And if you’re a really lonely foreigner, THAT CAN BE REALLY NICE BECAUSE YOU JUST WANT FRIENDS YOU’RE SO LONELY OH GODDDDDD.

TL;DR GO FOR IT

My number one piece of advice for traveling alone (as opposed to with family as a dependent) is whenever you get stressed about something, sit back and realize that apart from your dying in a horrible freak accident, nothing can go wrong. If you miss a flight, you can catch another one. If you get lost, you’re not going to be lost forever. If you order weird food in a restaurant by accident, RUN OUT THE DOOR no really it’ll be okay.

I realize this is a policy tooooooooooooootally founded in ridiculous optimism, but seriously, nothing can go wrong permanently. There is no one thing that you can do that will totally screw up your life. Rather, you’re going to make a bunch of great stories that you can brag about later and probably have an awesome time.

Also never do drugs in foreign countries because you will be arrested AND DIE