Internship in Tanzania - My first trip abroad
My first international trip wasn’t planned overnight. In fact, I spent several years thinking of exactly what it was that I wanted to experience when I left my comfort zone. And when I found Cross-Cultural Solutions, I was hooked. I knew that when I had the opportunity to finally cross the ocean, it would not be to do something only for myself. I wanted to give back as well.
CCS was a no brainer for me because I wanted an independent experience but was not ready to venture abroad alone. The people that I met on my journey quickly became family in a way that I never would have expected. I’m so happy that I chose CCS because it gave me the opportunity to be a part of another culture without feeling like a tourist. The CCS team in Tanzania did an incredible job of explaining the cultural norms so that we did not feel like outsiders in the community.
I chose to intern as a part of my CCS experience, and it was a perfect decision for me. The intern path gave me the chance to meet people who were eager to share their personal stories about local and national education, what they are doing for their own children currently, and their ideas for how to improve education throughout the country. I was able to observe local education from the inside out, and I am so grateful that I was able to get such a personalized experience.
Another aspect that I really loved was the CCS Home-Base. It was amazing and immediately, I was calling it home. After a long day hiking by the river I would ask the other volunteers if they were ready to go back home for dinner. The CCS staff welcomed us instantly and they were always asking how we were doing, how we slept, and what we needed. Their number one priority was to make sure that we felt comfortable and safe. If there were ever any issues, there was always a staff member nearby to support us. The Home-Base really helped me adjust to the culture and keep any unnerving culture shock at bay. Of course there were times when I realized I was definitely not at home anymore, but I was never scared. The community in Karanga was so welcoming and everywhere we would go we’d always hear the words “Karibu Sana”—you’re very welcome.
It was very important to me that when I visited my first country overseas, that I would feel a connection with other people. I am happy to say that I felt as if I was able to experience CCS’ value of shared humanity. I was blessed with the opportunity to experience a different culture and also to share my own with people who wanted to learn more about me and where I was from. In return, I felt a connection to a community that seemed so different in the beginning. In the end though, I realized that there were not many differences at all. No matter where you are in the world, I think we are all searching for the some of the same things.
I can’t wait until I have another opportunity to volunteer abroad with CCS. I think international travel with a goal of helping others is so different than your typical getaway because it allows you to be a part of something bigger, and it helps you to learn something new about yourself as well as a different part of the world.