31 March 2014

let's talk tanzanian culture - getting engaged.

New to this series? No worries. You can catch up by reading parts one and two of Let's Talk Tanzanian Culture.

Today's topic? Getting engaged in Tanzania. Of course Ashley already wrote a bit on getting married in Tanzania. This post takes a step back and looks at the engagement process in more detail.

It's a trip, so read on below for the deets.

28 March 2014

reading rainbow - 28 march 2014.

Celebrate good times! It's the end of another week of Kiswahili for us and for you? Work? Studying? Whatever it is, feel free to pumzika (a.k.a. relax) with the following awesomely curated articles!

27 March 2014

love that dirty water.

How much do you think about water?

Although World Water Day was this past Saturday, March 22, we have water on the brain over here in Tanzania. To be honest, I didn't think much about our access to water in the United States. Why? Because, as you know, in developed nations, clean water is everywhere. It comes from your tap. It comes from your shower head. Heck, in the United States, it's even in your toilet!

Here? Not so much. Michael and I have been reflecting lately on the fact that all of the water we currently use comes from a lake. Not a clean lake, by any means. Just a lake. And by having (dirty) water come to our sink tap, we are living the Tanzanian life of luxury. How dirty is it, you may ask? Well, it has bilharzia, for starters. What's bilharzia?

view of lake victoria just down the road from our language school.

24 March 2014

what we do on the weekend in tanzania.

I don't know why this post didn't come sooner...

Unless you're a brand new reader of our blog (welcome!), you know that Ashley and I are currently students studying Kiswahili at the Makoko Language School in Musoma, Tanzania.

Ashley already elaborated on what our language school routine looks like. But God gave us weekends for a reason - you know, to do other stuff that you really enjoy. This post is about how we use that time - hooray!

21 March 2014

reading rainbow - 21 march 2014.

Welcome to another installment of Reading Rainbow, a weekly-ish series in which Ashley and I share links to five articles/blogs/stories that we really enjoyed. Read on below!

20 March 2014

house hunter's international: tanzania.

Hello again! You may not have noticed, since we stealthily kept blogging away last week, but we just returned from a week of "spring break" in Mwanza. Before you get carried away with images of us lounging on a nice beach or trotting around Europe, let me tell you what the real deal was over the course of the last week: house hunting.

17 March 2014

let's talk tanzanian culture - hosting guests.

In case you missed it, you can check out part one here.

Otherwise, read on below for part two of Let's Talk Tanzanian Culture.

Ashley and I recently had a fascinating conversation with two of our teachers here at the Makoko Language School. Our discussion centered around guest hospitality - you know, welcoming people into your home. It was a classic example of two cultures having similar intentions for a particular situation, yet approaching it in a completely opposite manner.

Interested? Cool, then let's talk Tanzanian culture.

13 March 2014

tanzanian cultural norms we love.

Michael and I are officially starting to hit the point of missing things about our homeland. We've been in Tanzania for two months now and although we are still loving it, we find ourselves reminiscing about the food and some of the modern conveniences of home. (But let's be honest, we do mostly talk about food!)

oh, we miss you white mountain creamery.

10 March 2014

how a change in circumstances can bring about new perspectives.

Upon moving to Tanzania, I did something that I have never done before: journal. In case you missed it, Ashley wrote a bit about our journals in her post on five tips for learning a foreign language.

In my prior life in the United States (as it feels at times), the idea of sitting and putting my thoughts to ink and paper would have been described as laborious and terrifying.

But not anymore.

In journaling I find freedom. I find release. I find insight. I find direction. I find that my penmanship is remarkably poor. I suppose that is impetus for further journaling in order to hone my cursive.

How often do I journal? Randomly. Unlike these blog posts, my journaling does not follow a set cadence. Quite often I journal as a form of prayer. To sit alone with my thoughts is to invite a pandora's box of distractions.

Writing keeps my mind focused.

Recently I wrote a brief journal entry that I would like to share. The topic? How a change in circumstances can bring about new perspectives. Read on below.

07 March 2014

reading rainbow - 7 march 2014.

In case you are just tuning-in, Ashley and I have started a new weekly-ish series called Reading Rainbow.

Roughly every Friday, we'll post links to five articles/blogs/stories 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. Cool? Cool.

Oh, and in case you missed our first Reading Rainbow, you can hit that up here.

06 March 2014

what are cultural stereotypes worth?

Since we were guests at a local home, I've been thinking a lot about cultural stereotypes. We all know where stereotypes come from and joke that stereotypes exist for a reason. But I've been trying to wrap my brain around something deeper, underneath the surface. What's the true value of a cultural stereotype?

Before Michael and I came to Tanzania, we read African Friends and Money Matters, a book written by a Westerner for outsiders attempting to understand Africans' viewpoints about money, relationships, and communal living. Michael and I read the book quickly, taken by its explanations of an environment completely different from our own backgrounds.

We thought we understood. (Never you mind that Africa has 54 countries and the rest of the world consistently refers to it as one place.)

A little over a month ago, we were invited to a Tanzanian family's home and were warned that we would be asked for money. "All Tanzanians ask wazungu for money," we were told. "They figure there's no hurt in trying." Their prediction surely matched the description we found in African Friends and Money Matters.

03 March 2014

living the new normal in tanzania, part iii.

In case you missed out, be sure to first read parts one and two. Otherwise, we'll continue with another ten observations of what the new normal looks like for our new life here in Tanzania.