In the beginning….then today! - June 18th, 2015

TZ15picsKT_044 The 2015 Tanzania Study Abroad class at NIU has come a long way since we first landed in Tanzania in May. This pic of Tiffany Powell introducing herself in Kiswahili language at Parents Day for Nyegina Secondary School on June 6 doesn’t convey the stress the students felt standing in front of over 500 parents and students to describe their families and studies at Northern Illinois University. On her left, Emily Stevens and Cody Sheriff are relieved they are done with this “examination” while on her right, Dillon Domke is intently trying to mentally recite his words since he is next.

Today is the last day in Musoma, and students are spending the day in final meetings with NGO stakeholders to finish their service projects and prepare to present their findings and options to various NGOs in Musoma and Mara Region at the Farewell Dinner tonight. That is their last course exam here, and they are busily working to make sure they pass with flying colors. The ambitious plans of eager students have been tempered by the realities of development work in real time, in the field. Their understanding of the role of NGOs in developing countries has deepened, and they have quickly realized how hard development work is, and why it takes dedication and commitment to find success.

We were blessed with a delicious dinner of Indian food cooked by Liz Mach, RN, who has dedicated her life to development in Tanzania, and who focuses on healthcare for women and children, fighting FGM, early marriages of girls, and other health problems. She is a role model for all of us, and with nearly 40 years of experience, she has taught us much in a short time. Thank you, Liz, for your hard work and dedication and service to humanity.

NIU Study Abroad Arrives at Musoma via Old Dupai and Serengeti…13 hours. - June 1st, 2015

NIU@OldDupaiGorge1The 11 Tanzania Study Abroad students from Northern Illinois University landed in Arusha on Friday, May 29. They spent Saturday in Arusha at East Africa Ceramics (which is assisting TDS with a similar initiative for a women-owned business in Mugango), and at the Mwangaza Center for Teaching in Stop at Old Dupai Gorge for lunch was well worth it. Students liked the tour and the site. The picture shows the guide on far left and Fr. Leo Kazeri, our UMABU host and study abroad partner, on far right. Professor Thurmaier is taking the picture at the site where (in 1959) Mary Leakey discovered remains of the robust australopithecine Zinjanthropus boisei (now known as Paranthropus boisei). The specimen’s age of 1.75 million years radically altered the accepted ideas about the time scale of human evolution.

Had some thrills going through Serengeti National Park. First, we had to push our way through the great wildebeest and zebra migration….very cool; then 6 lions in a tree near the road, with a lioness crossing the road and walking next to the car before turning to go to the tree. Stop at Issenye with Fr. Kennedy Garusya was great food break. Finally arrived at Epheta Retreat Hostel about 9:15PM (13 hour trip). Students loved it, and are eager to start language training.