On my 65th birthday, I became an international volunteer
For my very first Cross-Cultural Solutions experience, I was in Tanzania celebrating my 65th birthday. I spent several weeks teaching at a local juvenile detention center. It was the hardest, and most wonderful thing I've ever done. I arrived in Moshi thinking that I would be teaching English to the boys at the center, and nothing more. But what an awakening! And just like any other international volunteer will tell you, I'm sure I learned more from those boys than they learned from me.
After just a day volunteering at the center, I realized that the boys weren't really being taught much, or engaged. Instead, they spent the majority of their day hanging around the yard. This gave me an idea.
In addition to my background as a nature photographer, writer, and special education teacher, I also have a background in landscaping. And so I went to the warden of the detention center and asked permission to borrow a bunch of hand tools from a neighbor. I gave the tools out to the boys, grabbed a few for myself, and we got to work digging up the yard and planting much of the grounds with veggies. This not only gave them much needed exercise, but a new skill as well as a new source for fresh veggies. This was just one small part of my experience, but a powerful memory nonetheless.
Because of my love for the Tanzanian people and their culture, I have returned five times! And so I want to thank Cross-Cultural Solutions. I've learned so much from my awesome adopted family in Tanzania as well as the many new friends I now have all over the world. And though I'm very busy at home these days, my heart will always belong to Tanzania. Asante sana - thank you.