Great Youth Meeting

Had a great youth meeting today, even though there was a slight misunderstanding!  Evidently we weren’t supposed to have a youth meeting this week (thus why there were only 4 youth…they must have missed the memo too) because there are 5 Saturdays in March and they only meet 2 Saturdays a month so…

Anyway, I didn’t find this out until halfway through my teaching/discussion, so we continued anyway.  Its too bad there weren’t more people there because we had a good discussion about human trafficking in Tanzania.  One of the girls was even able to give an example of a human trafficking situation she knew of personally.  I have been thinking about having the youth do a big outreach/awareness project on human trafficking the last Saturday I am here and was about to suggest it but… of the youth beat me to it!  I love when that happens!  We were at the end of our discussion, talking about what they can do to protect themselves and to work toward prevention of trafficking.  During this, one of the youth suggested we do an outreach project- I was so happy!!  : )  So I had them ponder some ideas and we will continue discussing it next week when there is a larger group.  Then my last Saturday here (can’t believe its almost here?!) we will implement the project.

Well…all of my clothes are dirty so i have to suck it up and go wash them (its VERY hot today and I have to wash them outside…that’s why I say “suck it up”).  Hope everyone is doing well!!  Would love to hear from you!


Whew…so it has been awhile since I have posted an update.  I apologize.  My internet has really been a problem the last couple of weeks. I thought I finally got it fixed a couple of weeks ago but now its working even worse (actually not at all, really) so I borrowed a friend’s modem so I could let you all know I am alive!

It’s unbelievable I only have just a little over a month left here!  I have mixed emotions about that.  It will be hard to leave friends I have made here (and the beach) but I do miss home quite a bit.

Life has been hectic trying to balance life here with internship & trying to get my assignments done for class.  The internet situation has made it quite challenging to get my papers done.  I have also had several health problems since I’ve been here (a couple of infections and currently a sore throat…who knew I could get a cold when its in the 90s?).

As for internship…its been fine.  WAMATA is a great organization but has much less “structure” than what I am used to.  Things are pretty slow most of the time and I find myself looking for things to do.  Since the youth only meet twice a month, I have more than enough time to plan for the youth meetings.

After the 2nd meeting with the youth I was a bit discouraged because I didn’t feel like the curriculum I was teaching was suitable for the age group that was attending (mostly 18-32 year olds).  I began talking with some of the “youth” volunteers that come to WAMATA several times a week and when they found out that I have a lot of experience researching and teaching about human trafficking they were very interested.  After explaining to them what human trafficking is I asked them if that was something they thought the youth that come on Saturdays would be interested in as well.  They seemed to think they would be interested so I began planning to teach about global human trafficking (just the basics- definition, statistics, examples, places/types of work victims are found, etc).  I taught that last Saturday and the youth were very receptive.  None of them had even heard of human trafficking (either in english or swahili) and at the beginning some did not think that slavery still existed at all.  We had a really great discussion and I felt like they had actually gotten something beneficial out of it.  Next week I am going to continue the topic, but focus specifically on Tanzania.

To help fill my time I have started doing some of my internship hours at Kairoki Hospital which is just down the street from WAMATA.  So far I have been shadowing the HIV/AIDS counselor there.  It has been very interesting and she has been great about interpreting for me.  It is challenging because she wants me to counsel some of the clients on my own but I do not know Swahili.  She suggested trying to find some clients for me who are comfortable speaking in english. I’m really excited about the possibility of doing some of the counseling, so I hope that works out soon.

I think that’s all for now.  Sorry if you’ve messaged me and I haven’t gotten back to you!  I will try respond to people as soon as possible!

Culture Shock

This usually happens to me about this time during international experiences.  All of the cultural differences and little inconveniences begin to overwhelm my senses and I start longing for the comfort of home.

It started when I woke up last Friday morning.  I had wanted to take a shower the night before but we still didn’t have any water after 2 days.  I hoped that there might be water in the pipes by the time I woke up that morning, but the pipes were still dry.  Not only that, but we also didn’t have any water in the barrels so I couldn’t even take a bucket shower.  So I went to internship feeling dirty.  I sweat soooo much all of the time here, so if I don’t take a shower every day I feel really nasty.  This was now the second day I had not showered.  My face had gotten slightly sunburned the day before from being out in the field all day.  Friday I also went out in the field all day and my face burned even more (despite sunscreen).  The sun never stops shining here, which all of you back home are probably envious of, but I would like just one cloudy day to give my pale, white skin some reprieve!  Other little annoyances that really irked me that day…being shouted at or honked at by almost every single man who drove by and obviously being talked about in Swahili by the people I was with at internship but not being told what they were saying.  I would hear them say my name and then everyone would turn and look at me.  When I asked “What are you talking about?” no one answered me.  After about the fifth time this happened I was getting really frustrated.  I’m sure they weren’t saying anything negative, but just the fact that they made it obvious they were talking about something pertaining to me but wouldn’t tell me what they were saying, really started to upset me.  They were really concerned with trying to find me chains to hang up my mosquito net though, which I am really grateful for (although we weren’t successful in finding any).  They really are very caring people and are concerned for my well-being.

The weekend was relaxing and I stayed out of the sun as much as possible so my sunburn is starting to go away.  I thought a lot about home and how badly I miss Target (my weakness in life, my 2nd home…).  Other things I was missing- friends/family, driving a car, air conditioning, speaking English, my independence, blending in (not sticking out like a sore thumb), Western toilets (that flush), running water, American food.

Oh and this tops it all off.  This morning I unlock the door to my “office” (they gave me a little storage closet with a desk in it, which is fine for my purposes) and this overwhelming smell hit me.  It smelled like a dead animal.  I closed my eyes and prayed that the smell was wafting in from outside through the open window.  I looked around the floor, under things to see if I could find anything.  I didn’t.  I sat down at my desk and slowly opened the top door.  Nothing but some old files.  Closed it.  Opened the bottom drawer.  Let out a little scream (much to my embarrassment).  There in the bottom drawer laid a decomposing rat with flies swarming around it.  I quickly jumped up and ran into the nearest office and told a staff member that there was a dead animal in my drawer.  I think she found my obvious dismay a bit humorous although she was kind enough to not outright laugh at me.  She just told me she would get the cleaning person to come in an clean it up and to not go back in there today because of the smell.  Oi.

Don’t be alarmed- I’ve experienced culture shock before and I know that I will get over it (or learn to deal with it).  It’s interesting how the cycle works.  The first couple of weeks in a new place are exciting and fun.  Then everything hits you like a brick wall and you realize how different everything is and begin longing for familiarity.  Then you start getting used to the differences and begin to get better at the language and feel more confident.  This is usually the point I have to go home!  It’s hard to believe I only have close to 2 more months left.

Has anyone else had similar experiences with culture shock?  What was your experience like?

Adjusting to life in Dar

It feels to me like I have been here much longer than 2 weeks!  I have become increasingly more comfortable in my new environment the last week.  I have made a good core group of friends, including my roommates, which have been such a great assistance in my pursuit to learn Kiswahili (very slowly) and everyday Tanzanian life.  The only thing I am not adjusting to are the mosquitos!!  They are truly eating me alive!

I had my first meeting with the youth at WAMATA last Saturday.  It went well from my point of view, though of course the language barrier made it a bit difficult.  I hav decided to use a curriculum from PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health).  It’s helpful that it is written in both english and kiswahili so I don’t have to have any of the written materials translated!  The first session was spent getting to know each other and talking about the first topic: Values.  What has value, how are personal values are shaped, etc.  Next we will discuss how values affect the choices we make.  The curriculum has to be tailored a bit because it’s too long for the time that I have to teach it and some of it is for younger youth.  The ages of the youth that came last week were between 18 and 30, which is a new age group for me to work with.

I can’t end without adding a bit of exciting news from home life.  We got a stove!!

Old scary stove…







Shiny new stove! 

First week

Well, it’s been a good and challenging first week in Dar es Salaam!  My roomates are wonderful and all of the people at WAMATA as well.  They have all been super helpful in my attempt to learn Swahili.  The progress has been slow, but there are people always around, constantly challenging me to learn new words.  I am starting to adjust to life here and beginning to feel more comfortable getting around by myself. And thank goodness for the ocean because it is HOT!

WAMATA is a very laid-back environment and I’m still trying to figure out my role here.  The director would like for me to work with the youth and do some grant writing (which I’ve never done, but will be great experience!).  The youth are between the ages of 11 and 30 and they meet 2x a month to play music and dance and learn about various life skills in order to prevent HIV/AIDS.  I am still trying to figure out what I am going to present to them. The next time they meet is this coming Saturday.  If anyone has any suggestions about what I could talk about feel free to leave suggestions!!

Don’t have my pictures uploaded on my computer yet.  Pictures will be coming soon!


The time has come!  I leave the Indianapolis airport at 10:03 tomorrow morning and arrive in Dar es Salaam Friday evening at 9:00 pm (1 pm Indiana time).  I have been a bundle of nerves the past couple of days.  A couple of things went wrong and I was running around like a madwoman trying to get everything in order!  But everything has worked out fine and I am excited to start traveling!

I will try to update this at least once a week so keep checking back and stay in contact!  It may take me a few days when I get there to get internet set up.  My email is and my Skype is jesela86.


Why Am I Going to Tanzania?


In January 2012, I will be going to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for my final semester of graduate school at Dominican University.  I will be doing my practicum at an agency called WAMATA ( WAMATA’s mission statement is

“To minimize social, psychological and economic effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through prevention efforts and a forum of support for people who are infected or affected.”

As an intern there, I will be working toward the prevention of violence against women.  I will be living with a Dominican alum who did her practicum at this same agency last year and is now living there with 2 Tanzanian roomates. I should have plenty of opportunity to practice my Swahili!

I am very excited for this opportunity to learn about international social work in an African setting.  Check back in January when I begin posting about my experiences!  For anyone who wants to Skype while I’m there, my Skype address is: jesela86