Generally — I imagine — the people who do these types of volunteer-abroad adventures are the types of people who like to travel and experience new things. There’s no way I can oversell Arusha, Tanzania, for this very thing.

 

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I have recently returned from experiencing all that Arusha has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, the one thing I will take away most from this experience is the people I have met and homes I have visited, particularly when going to the field with Farm Radio staff (see all of my earlier blog posts). But after three weeks of vacation, I have checked all the boxes on the one-in-a-lifetime experiences: I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I visited Zanzibar, and I went on safari, where I saw lions, cheetahs, a leopard, and an incredible number of elephants. (I can’t wait to go on safari again! Let’s hope I get the chance.)

 

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These adventures have left me with memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
But it’s also the little things about Arusha that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Like the time we bought a live chicken and slaughtered it for Thanksgiving. Or the time we rented speakers and set up a DJ on our porch for a party. (Actually the same weekend — pretty wild times in Arusha.)

 

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Another part of the volunteer experience is meeting new people, and over the past few weeks and next few weeks I’m saying goodbye to quite a few friends. As they re-integrate back home, we realize a few of things we miss most:
— Canadian dairy (UHT-processed milk is just not the same)
— a reliable cheese selection
— walking outside at night
— watching baseball on TV
(Really, it’s a short list.)
Watching my friends re-integrate, it’s surprising the form culture shock takes:
— being able to understand what everyone around you is saying
— a washing machine
But I know there are many things that I will always miss about Arusha:
— shopping at the market
— drinking soda out of glass bottles
— living in sight of a mountain!!!
It’s strange the things that stick with you — and the things you realize you miss.