30 January 2014

women's work? say what?

Every day, as I mentioned in my post on our daily school schedule, we have two class periods, back to back, called Conversation and Stories. These classes, while annoying because much of the content has to be memorized, are great for cultural learning and practicing our KiSwahili. We get the opportunity to discuss local customs, ways of thinking, and situations we may encounter, like being a guest in someone’s home.

So what was my reaction today when I learned the topic was going to be all about the role of women in Tanzania? Well, to be honest, I was a bit disgusted.

perfectly captures my reaction.

27 January 2014

the first heartbreak.

Ashley and I have been in Tanzania for three weeks, but today feels like the first day we lived here.

I say this because today we removed ourselves from the bubble of language school and entered into the home of a neighboring Tanzanian family, deliberating choosing to immerse ourselves in the reality of life known by so many of the local people.

A family of nine – two parents and seven children – lives just down the road from our language school. We always pass by their home on our late afternoon walks. While still a long way off, the children often run to greet us. Children are great for practicing our KiSwahili language skills, and we spend about 30 minutes walking and chatting with them on a regular basis. Most of the time we don’t understand each other, but it’s still great fun.

Last week, we met the mother of the children and she invited us back to her home this past Sunday for a mid-day meal. “Karibu nyumbani,” she repeated, which effectively means, “You are welcome in our home.”

23 January 2014

grab your backpacks, we are students again!

Sisi ni wanafunzi wa shule ya lugha Makoko!

We are students at the Makoko Language School!

20 January 2014

africa and technology…can it work?

Owning a mobile phone and using internet in Tanzania works a bit differently than in the U.S. of A.
  • Two-year contracts are non-existent. (Not a bad thing.) 
  • Plans range from as short as 20 minutes to at most 30 days. (Wow, that's short.) 
  • Mobile phones are not subsidized. (Sticker shock, especially on smartphones.) 
  • Wi-Fi can hardly be found. (Darn.) 
  • Everything is pay-as-you go with cash. (But I like credit!) 
  • And things generally just do not consistently work. (Well, I guess that answers the question in the title of this post.) 
So to shed a little light on life here, this post will chronicle our experience of acquiring mobile phones and Internet service in Tanzania. How exciting!

16 January 2014

7,910 miles later...

Here it is! The post you've all been waiting for, documenting our infamous trip from Naperville, Illinois, U.S. of A. to Mwanza, Tanzania. Now, I know it's easy to look at the number in the title of this post (7,910) and think, "Okay, cool." But that's a loooong way to travel. For example, you'd have to go from Los Angeles to New York City back to Los Angeles back to New York City and then, maybe to St. Louis, Missouri. And that, my friends, would be the distance we traveled. Big world, huh?

And remember that time, when I was all optimistic about our travel?

I. Was. Wrong.

13 January 2014

the leen's are in tanzania!

It's been almost two weeks since our last post, but that's because we've been busy traversing the planet (and lacking internet) - Ashley and I finally arrived in Tanzania!

01 January 2014

happy new year from the leen's!

Happy New Year!

I am writing to you from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport, admittedly killing time waiting for our delayed flight to Chicago.

always the case when flying to chicago o'hare.