On the 20th November 2017, two Jesuit Mission volunteers Matthew and Rebecca travelled from the UK to Tanzania. They have chosen to step out of their comfort zone and give their time to Jesuit Missions to experience a whole new culture, serve communities and put their faith into action. For six months they will be teaching in St Ignatius Jesuit school in the capital Dodoma.
One month into their journey, Rebecca gives us an update on how she’s getting past the original culture shock.
It’s mad how in such a short space of time a place where I only know a small amount of people, and which lacks home comforts, can still feel like ‘home’. I’m really enjoying my time here and living simply. As I reflect on the past month I’ve spent here, it’s interesting how the things which overwhelmed me when I first arrived no longer do. For example, not being able to have a hot shower, using my hands to eat and having to use squatting toilets in public places, having no television and no street lighting. However, it would be a huge lie if I said that I’m getting used to the heat and humidity of this part of the world as I’m really not.
A few weeks after arriving, the school broke up for the Christmas holidays. During this break Matthew and Rebecca spent some time at a language school in Morogoro, a five-hour drive from Dodoma, learning the local language of Swahili. Looking back at Matthew’s update after his first week, this was one thing he wished he’d learned before going and as we have learned from four Jesuits who travelled to India, learning the local language is very important when wanting to settle into a new culture.
In the short space of time spent at the language school, we were able to learn some of the key parts of the language. It was really interesting being able to learn about where the language originated from, origins of words and why the language has certain grammar rules. School life was intense as we had lectures, seminars and homework daily. It would be lie if I said I found the language easy to learn as I really didn’t, especially the pronunciation of some of the words (mchungaji being one of them). However, with some extra studying and practicing I’m slowly getting there.
Sounds like they had a taste of what it was like to be on the other side of teaching! While in Morogoro, they were also able to explore the area and have a taste of the local culture.
Messai is one of the local village tribes in Morogoro. Every Saturday members of the tribe, mainly the men, will dress in their tribal clothing and will gather at the market to socialise and to buy and sell cows and goats. It was really interesting to meet members of the tribe and to hear about their culture.
On Sunday, we hiked for three hours up the Ulguru Mountains to a place called Morning Side. Our legs well and truly burned as we hiked, however, the glorious green view we got to witness once we arrived at Morning Side was breathtaking and a gentle reminder that ‘He is greater than the highs and the lows.’
Christmas away from your family and friends can be difficult, but Rebecca speaks of how refreshing it has been to have more time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
I’ve found it so refreshing this year not being caught up with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season like I would have done at home. I’ve loved being able to take a step back from all the noise and consumerism which happens at this time of year and instead have spent time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas and how I can best prepare myself for the wonderful gift that we celebrate on this day.
Now the Christmas break is over, Rebecca and Matthew will be returning to teaching. We wish them well and look forward to their next update.
Are you interested in volunteering with Jesuit Missions? Are you drawn to serving others, while gaining experience with an International NGO? You can read more volunteer stories here as well as read more information about how you can get involved and make a real difference to the lives of some of the world’s most marginalised communities.
Posted on 10th January 2018