Sunday, June 27, 2010


Last night, as most of you already know the US team lost to Ghana in extra time. I had a hard time falling asleep because horns, chanting and singing went on late into the night.

Had a great yoga session with Katie. Was one of the first times I've been able to clear my head in the past week and a half. Beyond helpful. I can't wait to get back into a regular yoga schedule at home.

I leave for my homestay in three hours. Getting ready.

Homestay Orientation

1. Receiving and giving things –use your right hand
2. When talking to an elderly person- don’t put your hands in your pockets
3. Don’t rest your legs on the chairs/tables which you are going to use
4. Don’t cross your legs in front of elders (especially girls)
5. Too short shorts in villages are not tolerable
6. Show respect to elders when greeting them
7. Showing love and affection in public is not accepted in our culture. Hugging is ok
8. Yelling to call someone’s attention is impolite, just clap your hands
9. Sniffing food is not good, very impolite
10. Try to avoid giving money to children, it is strongly discouraged
11. Bedroom is a private place
12. Knock before entering in a house and greet
13. Be careful of the homeless people
14. If you go to someone’s house and you’re offered a seat-please do not reject it. Even if you are in a hurry, sit for a few minutes, it is considered a blessing to the family

Tomorrow we start our home-stay. I will last for two weeks. I don’t think I’m going to have any internet, so expect a big update around July 10th.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The past 48 hours have made me realize that I am going to be learning a lot more about myself and others while here in Arusha. I am going to be doing a fair amount of soul-searching. I didn't plan for my time in Arusha to become that, but as of late I have realized that is what it is going to be. Tanzania has become a necessary escape from reality.

We begin our homestay on Sunday and it will last for two weeks. I can't imagine a better time for this experience, and I have no idea what to expect. Tomorrow I start my after school soccer clinic, something I am also very much looking forward to.

Dancing to the beat of my own Drum

Sunday was our first free day so we all decided to take African dance and drum lessons. The lesson itself was very basic, but I enjoyed it very much. We started the lesson by learning a couple steps to a traditional African dance, but my favorite part came when we got to learn how to play some of the drums. Our instructor taught us about four or five different beats and we would rotate between playing as a group and individually. I realized that playing the drums is actually not as easy as it looks, but a lot of fun. My favorite part was when we learned how to play three drums and how to play the African version of a xylophone.


This past Saturday we had a day trip to climb the base camp of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The mountain is exactly two hours from our hotel, so we got up around 7:30. I was a bit worried because when we finally arrived it was drizzly and very cloudy, but luckily it cleared up shortly thereafter. Our guide explained to us the many different paths you can take to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and which ones were the harder ones and which ones were the easier were simply bamboo tied to the surrounding trees. I’m pretty sure I prayed for my life multiple times. The trek was rewarding because the waterfall and vast creek were extremely beautiful. Nonetheless we were still a spectacle to the locals who could continuously yell out greetings to us. A highlight was when we passed a family of young boys how were dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

After the conclusion of our multiple hour adventure, we walked down to a nearby hotel for a delicious lunch, which consisted of fresh fruit and vegetables with rice and curry. During the entire hike we were surrounded by avocado trees, so I was more than thrilled to see them for lunch. By the end of the day I was filthy, and took a shower the moment we got back from out two-hour ride back to the apartments. ones.

On our hike our guide explained to us the different types of trees, plants, and fruits that line the mountain. Our path was extremely green and luscious. The best part was when we reached a waterfall at the completion of our hike. However, to get to the waterfall we had to walk down an extremely steep set of “stairs” that were made of slippery mud. The railings of the stairs

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Via Via

Last night the group decided to get its first taste of Tanzanian nightlife. After our group dinner we taxied to a place that we had been given great recommendations called Via Via which has live music on Thursday nights. Believe it or not we had to pay cover! It was barely anything at all but this amused me nonetheless. Via via was a great sight. It is all outdoors and has two great tiki-shic bars. They had the world cup on all tvs and on a huge projector screen outside. They even had a huge outdoor dance floor with crazy light/lazer displays. We danced the night away and meet some great locals and visitors. The dj was amazing. It was the perfect mix of America rap/dance music and European techno influence. Perfection. I wish djs in the America were more like that. Also, many people were passing through on their way to the World Cup and some were on their way back. We also discovered a really tasty papaya gin that is from the local area. We finally decided to head back around 2:30ish since we had to get up at the delightful hour of 8 am the next morning. I also had a successful video chat with Stewart, which was really nice; I guess the internet is stronger at 3 am…


Today while we were walking around taking pictures with the teachers we witnessed a group of guys dragging along a shirtless guy. One of the men was carrying a large wooden stick. We learned from one of the teachers that he was about to be beaten. My stomach filled with knots and I looked away. Shortly after I heard the stick in the air. I cringed. This is what happens if you are caught stealing here. Sometimes, if serious enough, I have heard the person can be beaten to death.

Reading Photographs

The past couple of days we have been running teacher workshops at two different schools. The purpose is to teach the teachers the LTP method so that they can use the method in their classrooms. The first day I was a bit nervous because I would be teaching about 10 Tanzanian teachers LTP, and I didn’t how the language barrier and cultural norms would impact our interactions. The past three days I have been working with Cameron, which has turned out to be a really good team. The first couple of minutes everyone was a bit shy but it didn’t take too long for people to get comfortable, myself included. I did learn that language can be a bit of barrier and sometimes it takes Pele to translate for instructions to finally be understood. However, sometimes, the quite and shy teachers (mostly women) turn out to be the best English speakers and writers. Working and getting to know the teachers has been really rewarding.

Reading photographs is a primary activity in LTP. First, the group looks at a photograph and lists all the objects in people in the photograph, aka simply stating what the photograph shows. Secondly, everyone in the group chooses a person in the photograph to write a creative story in the first perspective. This is my favorite part because it is great to see the creative side of whoever is doing the activity (in this case teachers, and soon to be the students).

After the reading photographs exercises, we decided to make a social studies ABC book with the teachers for their students. The different groups were assigned different letters of the alphabet and then we brainstormed social studies words with the letters we were assigned. Once the words were chosen we went around the town and took photos of the words. After shooting we went back to the school, printed the photos and created our alphabet flipbook. One of the great things this year is that the ministry of education is getting involved and trying to make LTP MANDATORY in the schools. Another amazing thing is that we are creating a camera and printer resource room so that the teachers can check them out to use in their classrooms (the teachers don’t even have visual aids in the classrooms). Overall, the teachers seemed really excited about LTP and the ones that I talked to said they were defiantly going to use it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back Roads

This morning Cameron and I took a walk around the back roads of the street our apartments are on. It is entirely a bumpy, dusty path which I can barley imagine cars driving down. We passed schools that are simply a falling down shack and many produce stands that stand at the edge of personal gardens. We decided to take the walk because were doing an alphabet photography project documenting American things in Tanzania. We were assigned m, n, o, p, and y, therefore we took pictures of money, a newspaper, a BP Oil tin, some pollution in the river, and a thing of yogurt. While we were walking, as we turned a corner, a 3-year old adorable little boy ran out of his house to me and grabbed my hands. He then started shaking his hips and dancing with me. It was definitely a highlight of my day. Since we had one Swahili lesson under our belt, we were also able to practice greetings to the people we passed along the way.

Monday, June 14, 2010


A couple of us decided to have our first experience with small market shopping. We walked along the dusty street path for a couple minutes until we came upon a small fruit and vegetable stand. We successfully (without understanding a word the woman said or her understanding anything that we said) bought a couple bell peppers to make a stir fry pasta dish this evening. However, I was determined to get a pineapple for Kir. Because you have to bargain (and we haven’t asked a local yet what normal prices are), I swiftly brought out 500 shillings (about 50 cents) to buy the pineapple. She wasn’t having it. The final asking price was 20,000 shillings. The pineapple was not bought and the search for a cheaper one continues.


Had a relaxing afternoon today. Was able to sleep in a bit and got brunch at the restaurant at hotel. It was very good. They brought out freshly squeezed juice which was basically fruit in liquid form. Shortly after we met with Katie and talked about what our schedule is going to be like for the time we are here.

For the next two weeks we have Swahili lessons everyday, and just about every day we are also going to be having workshops with the teachers that we are going to be working with. Next week we also start our after school projects with the children, which I’m sure excited about. Kir, Nate and myself are going to work an after school soccer program, can’t wait. The third week we are here we start our homestays, which will last for two weeks (this is right after we finish are Swahili lessons). During the homestays we will all be working at the same school so we will all be reunited during the day before we go our own ways at night. After the homestays we are going to be working at schools for most of the time, and one of the final weeks we are going to do workshops at a teachers college (this is awesome because it the equivalent would be teaching the education department at Duke how to use LTP).

We also talked about safety. For example what happens if you are cornered and someone has a knife—just give him what he/she wants. Therefore I will only WALK with just enough cash I need and my Africa phone. Everything else will only be brought when we taxi to and from places.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


First Impressions: I knew my two months in Tanzania was going to be an experience unlike no other when I looked out the window right before we were going to land in Kilimanjaro airport and there were no lights to be seen. We (there are seven of us: Kir, Cameron, Nate, Ian, Aadya, and Wilma) exited the airplane to a cool crisp breeze (its winter in Arusha). We entered the airport (which was really just one building) for customs and baggage, and were greeted by a mob for the customs line. Luckily all of our baggage made it and we immediately met Katie (our faculty advisor), Emma (our assistant advisor), and Pele (our local liaison, whom I will probably be mentioning a lot). We hoped into a huge van and we were on our way.

The ride to our apartments was peaceful, barely any of the houses/buildings we passed had power so we had to make our figures and building shapes in the dark. As we got closer to town (meaning there was electricity), we could see everyone huddled in bars and houses watching the first day of the World Cup. Our of nowhere we took a sharp turn to the right and we were at our new home. We are all living in Kundayo apartments, an extremely well guarded apartment complex with lodge, restaurant, and fairly nice apartments. The three boys are in one apartment and the four girls are split into twos. I’m living with Kir who was in my LTP class, I’m really excited. The apartments are fully stocked and the showers are warm (although the water pressure is a trinkle, so glad I chopped off my hair before coming here). Our beds have built in mosquito nets, wooohooo, and of course we have to boil all water that we use for drinking or cooking, and mouths have to stay closely shut in the shower. When we arrived at the apartments the restaurant had prepared mushroom soup and spring rolls since many of us slept through the last airplane meal. After our tummies were full we got settled and I’m pretty sure we all passed out after 48 hours of travel.

Learning out way: Katie was extremely brilliant because she had planned the day with us having the ability to sleep in. When we finally all started to stir around 11ish we made our first trip to downtown. Normally we will taxi to the center, but for our first day and to get our grounding we walked. This was my first true Tanzanian experience. The streets (which are very dusty) are busy with people walking all about. Numerous bars and restaurants line the streets however they mostly resemble strong standing shacks. The streets are by no means the cleanest and make DC streets look clean enough to eat off of, but they also have their fair share of gardens. We walked around the downtown area before walking to a former homestay mom’s restaurant. I have already failed at being vegetarian because she made an amazing beef stew. While eating we were also given our African phones. My number is country code (255) 0685464180. However, we were still sorta jetlagged so we then had our first taxi experience and went back to the hotel. For the rest of the afternoon we unpacked and relaxed. For dinner we all decided to go to an Ethiopian restaurant, I was pumped. The food was amazing and I now have a new love for local Tanzanian beer. I also saw the most adorable little boy, I really wanted to steal him away. After dinner we all pretended to be engineers so we could fix the tv in the lodge to watch the England vs. USA soccer game. After dancing with the antennae we were finally able to get the game. Stewart made a great point. Three days ago I was looking at 3D tvs because they are showing the cup in the US in 3D. Now I’m just trying to get a signal to watch the game. As most of you know we tied which I almost consider a victory for the US. Post game we all passed out once again.

Safari: Today was incredible. We all woke up around 7:30 to a Muslim call to prayer and hoped into a minivan safari vehicle (yes, they exist). Our drive to Tarangire Park was about two hours. It was an extremely bumpy/dusty ride but the sightseeing was incredible. We passed many villages, and I don’t think I will ever be able to figure out how woman walk with carrying water on their heads. The park was surreal. We were face to face with elephants, zebras, ostriches, impalas, a lion in a bush, and giraffes. I also experienced a whole new meaning to the concept of “off roading.” After an amazing afternoon, we all hoped back into the vans to make the journey back. The moment we got back Ghana won its first game. We could see the celebration in the streets.

We are currently all pretty tired (and tired of cars), so tonight we are going to eat at our hotel’s restaurant for the first time and watch the World Cup.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

En Route to Tanzania

This summer I am extremely fortunate to have quite a unique experience--teaching in Arusha, Tanzania for two months. For those of you who I haven't explained what I'm doing there, I'm basically working with teachers and students in both private and public schools to help them incorporate an educational method called Literacy Through Photography into their classrooms. The basic idea is to use photography as a visual aid for any sort of discipline. To see how cool it is look at:
Also, if you would like to know more, please feel free to contact me about it.

Anywho, I'm currently waiting to board my flight in Richmond, Virginia. I fly to New York, NY to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. We land around 8:30 pm tomorrow, so it is going to be a full two days of travel. I love to fly international so I'm actually looking forward to it. Our first couple of days are getting situated, and hopefully filled with watching the beginning of the World Cup. I can't wait. I feel so lucky to be able to watch it in Tanzania.

Also, my internet will/might be pretty spotty, BUT I will have my blackberry with me. Therefore please feel free to email me at (I will be able to respond to that very easily). Or you can bbm me, my pin is 31112486. I will not be using text messaging though because it is extremely expensive. My skype name is: erin.malone.smolla (not too hard to remember).

I get back to the United States August 7th (leave Tanzania the 6th, but its another long day of travel).

Will update as much as I can :)
With love,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Contact Information

Mailing Address in Arusha:
Kundayo Serviced Apartments
Plot No. 208, Block GG-Kimandolu, Ars-Moshi Rd
P.O. Box 1749, Arusha-Tanzania
Phone +255 27 2544340