A year ago Katie and I started working on this immersion and since then it has been nothing but beautiful chaos. Communication with our partners in Tanzania was a little difficult due to the distance but the lack of knowing what to fully expect and the trust that we placed in what was “meant to be” served us well. When we met our Holy Cross partners in Moshi, Kitete, and Arusha, we were greeted with nothing but genuine hospitality and boundless generosity. We had language lessons, were immersed into their kind culture, spent time with native families, were welcomed with a traditional dance from the Masai people, saw majestic animals in their natural homes, and went to masses that lasted well over an hour (6 hours to be exact!). Our group formed a lasting bond that taught us how to be open and provided us a space of comfort in the most challenging times. There were tears caused by difficult realizations and laughters caused by priests dancing in the rain. Asante sana forever to all those that helped make this trip happen and for those that this trip would have not been the same without.
May 2019 was a beautiful and transforming experience for us as immersion coordinators, as well as for our staff and students!
We centered ourself in the local culture, language and cuisine. We embraced ceremonies celebrating various sacraments of the Catholic Church. We encountered women leaders who are transforming the rights of women in Tanzania and the world. Our days were filled with joy, laughter, tears, sadness, tiredness, inspiration and blessings. We experienced so much kindness and inclusion in one place! We are beyond grateful for the opportunities the University of Portland had to connect with our brothers and sisters in East Africa. Our hearts are forever touched by our encounters with the people of Tanzania. Here is to many more years celebrating and cherishing our time in Tanzania.
Poem (written collectively as part of a closing reflection by the Tanzania Immersion participants):
I will always remember the sight of rolling hills of green full of life
The rushing wind hitting my face on our long journeys to faraway places
Exploring a new place and learning new things while creating memories
Awe, wonder, surprise
Surrounds me as I look at the countryside through my window
Feeling the vast landscape, so lush and green, I can hear mother nature’s heartbeat
Feeling the mighty presence of the mountain even though we couldn’t see it
Mud that is like caramel color paste
Which makes houses that are simple yet livable
The people are what make them a home
No matter how much they own, they got each other
Because it takes a village
But it also takes one
And if you are that one, anything is possible