Letter to the Editor
Alumni writes from Africa
Lisa G. was a December 2003 FFS graduate. After graduation she completed her bachelor of psychology at the Dominican University of California. After graduating from the Master of Science Public Helath Program at UCLA this past June, she is volunteering in Tanzania to get experience working with people who have the HIV virus to further her studies.
Hi everyone! I’m here in Tanzania, in the town of Arusha. The trip was very long but totally worth it. I arrived really late last night, at 11pm, and was sort of amazed at how dark it was when I looked out the window of the plane because there are few houses with electricity here.
Two project managers picked me up from the airport, and they were super nice. The thing I really like so far about the people in my program is that they are so warm. So anyway, they picked me up, and we went out to the car and of course the first thing that happened… the car wouldn’t to start. So I jumped out and helped push. Strangely enough, starting my trip that way made me really happy.
I think it was exactly the way I pictured how this trip would be, and I was smiling already.
The drive from the airport to the town of Arusha is long, like 40 minutes, but it gave me time to get to know my coordinators. Meanwhile the moon was totally orange and hovered over the landscape exactly the way I’ve seen it in so many pictures. I have yet to see the Tanzanian countryside in the daylight, which I’m excited to do.
The hotel we’re staying in is clean and mostly comfortable although the beds are a little hard, but I can live with that. And they have showers! So I’m not totally gross yet.
Anyway, I didn’t sleep well. Last night, after the coordinators left me, and I was in a room by myself, I started to feel a little lonely and was wondering what inspired me to travel halfway across the world by myself. I hadn’t met the other volunteers yet, and I was worried about that as well. I tried to get some sleep, but the noise from the street was incredibly loud, and the action never stops.
I guess I should mention that Arusha is more like a city than a town, and is one of the main tourist hubs since it is a great starting place to go on safari. I’ll only be here tonight and Sunday night as a group of us will be heading out on a short two-day safari starting tomorrow. We come back Sunday night, but we’re leaving Monday for the village we’ll be working in.
My Swahili is horrible, and I can’t seem to get the hang of it, but luckily the other volunteers I met this morning are in the same boat. Today we’ve been walking around Arusha. I had a simple (and local) lunch which consisted of chicken in a tomato sort of broth, with rice. On the side they included a salad of tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers in a sort of vinaigrette which was super yummy, spinach, bananas, and beans on the side. I also had a glass of warm chai which they gave me for free, and it was delicious. It was a veritable feast, and you’ll never believe it, but it cost me about $2.50. Anyway, I’m off to the market to buy material to make skirts. I just wanted to let you know I’m doing great, having a wonderful time so far, and loving the company. My next email may not come for about 2 weeks, so sorry! Love you all!