28 February 2014

reading rainbow - 28 february 2014.

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Let's try a little something new, shall we? 

Every week, Michael and I do a lotto reading. Because we are nerds. Oh, and because we don't have a television. So the internet is our only way of getting news.

And we read good stuff! We have good taste! But we'll let you be the judge. 

Every Friday-ish, we'll post links to five articles and/or blog posts and/or stories and/or messages-by-pigeon-carrier that we really enjoyed. Some will be Tanzania-centric. Some will be about the homeland. But mostly, it'll just be a good way for you to procrastinate and not do work on Friday afternoon. Amiright?

Let's call this the Reading Rainbow. As an homage to Levar Burton and everything he did for American children stuck at home without cable. (I led a sheltered life.)

27 February 2014

my thoughts on volunteer-tourism.

Recently, via one of our favorite blogs, Mama Congo, Michael and I found a critique on volunteer-tourism, which can be defined as any short-term volunteer experience in a developing country. These trips are usually frequented by teenagers and young adults and can include opportunities to see the country (tourism) as well as do volunteer work (build a school, spend time with children, do dental work, etc).

The author of the critique, Pippa Biddle, had some valid points to make about the downfalls of volunteer-tourism. I agree that these trips often don't include the cultural, language, and socio-economic preparation necessary. What is the local culture like? What are all of the factors affecting the poor and marginalized in this community? Am I even going to be able to speak with local people? (If not, then don't even go.)

In addition, the trips can perpetuate stereotypes of Americans/Westerners/white people swooping in to "save" people instead of allowing for an open and honest dialogue in which both groups of people can learn, grow, and benefit.

24 February 2014

living the new normal in tanzania, part ii.

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In case you missed the first installment, check out that post here. We are here to talk about adjusting to the new norms of our life in Tanzania. Each time I provide ten observations, so this post will focus on observations #11-20.

As I said in the last post on this topic, Ashley and I have quickly been acclimating to our new environment here in Tanzania. Let's take a look at another ten observations of what the new normal looks and feels like for us.

20 February 2014

getting married in tanzania: an outsider's perspective.

Going to the chapel and we're gonna get ma-a-a-a-a-rried...

"Heyyyy, you guys are already married!"

True. This happened. And we loved it.

What about Tanzanians? How does marriage work over here? Well, good news! I'm about to tell you. 

17 February 2014

living the new normal in tanzania, part i.

Human beings are largely creatures of habit. Everyone experiences change. Most don't like it. But with time, change becomes normal.

And so it is with moving to Tanzania. Many things are different. But after just six weeks, it is amazing how so many changes already feel like the new normal.

13 February 2014

how to learn a foreign language: five simple tips.

Mtaka chauvunguni shati aina me. 

Poorly translated from Kiswahili into English, "If you want to get something, you need to bend your back."

Our cultural session this week was on Tanzanian proverbs (methali). Just like every culture, Tanzanians love proverbs that give advice on all matters of life, from wisdom to love to the importance of unity. This class session was fascinating because not only did we learn many Tanzanian proverbs, but also we had the opportunity to share a proverb from our own culture. Since we have students from Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Peru, Lebanon, Burkina Faso, and the good old U.S. of A., that led to a lot of fun conversation and awkward explanations as we tried to describe our proverbs in broken Kiswahili and English. 

to ease the blow of learning a foreign language, i took some pretty pictures of flowers. and posted them here. 

10 February 2014

exploring rocks and water.

Class is over. Our brains are fried from studying. So what do we do? Go on adventures!

08 February 2014

want to send some love to tanzania?

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a quick post on sending us mail and packages. We have received a few requests from amazing family and friends who have already inquired as to how to throw some goodies our way and we would love to accommodate these requests!

yay! happy mail!

06 February 2014

is africa a country or a continent?

So, how many countries are there in Africa?

Seriously, if you haven't Googled (yes, it's a verb now) the answer yet, try to take a guess. We'll call it African Geography 101. Any ideas?

54. Fifty four big (and little) ones. I don't know about you, but I was amazed when I learned that. 

Why? Why should we be surprised that so many countries fit on this massive continent? 

Basically, because we've been taught, in so many ways, that Africa is just one country. Sure, it's land mass is equal to China, India, the United States, and most of Europe put together, but it's just one place. 

pretty cool, huh?

01 February 2014

let's talk tanzanian culture - non-verbal communication.

Every Wednesday at the Makoko Language School, we have a session on culture with our Tanzanian teachers ("walimu"). I thought it'd be fun to share some of the direct comments from our teachers to give some insight into how life works in this part of the world (the only commentary I added or changed is in parentheses). Enjoy!