There is so much growth that one can gain from stepping out of your comfort zone, it is incredible. Traveling is a great way of doing so. A lot of the time when we travel, we go to beautiful beaches, good restaurants, and maybe some museums. But living like this, with the locals is completely different and it exposes you to a whole bunch of new experiences. I feel like everyday here, no matter where I am is a growing experience. It might not even have to do with Kibaha or Wipahs but I am just exposed to a life that I otherwise would not have been exposed to and love it.
On Thursday, I spent the night in Dar es Salaam en route to Zanzibar for the weekend. Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania. Its roads are busy, congested and dusty with street vendors everywhere. When we generally come to town, it is really hectic. We normally have a list of things to do, which we cannot do in Kibaha such as printing materials, picking up textbooks and more.
Anyways, Thursday was different. We arrived in the evening and my friend who I was going to Zanzibar with had family she had to go visit. I tried to let her go alone but she insisted that it was alright that I go with her. Even though I started off having nobody here in Tanzania, I’ve never felt it. My friend (who work at Wipahs) has practically adopted me. She has done everything for me from making sure I never go hungry to ensuring I am never alone. I have never really experienced someone being so giving and am constantly taken aback by this kind of kindness and hospitality.
Even when we went to her cousin’s place that I felt like I was practically family there. There was not one moment that I felt out of place. We were served dinner and I was really taken care of to the point where almost all the food surrounded me because her cousins were afraid I was being shy.
After dinner, we headed to a friend’s place where we would spend the night. We arrived and were told that the electricity had just gone. (This is really nothing new in Dar es Salaam and it is actually expected that everyday the electricity will go.) We were each given lanterns by the woman who worked at the house (like proper lanterns with a flame and a wick!) and shown to our rooms. It was 10 and we had had a long day so we all retired to our rooms. However, I wasn’t tired enough to sleep. I remembered that there was a huge library of books in the sitting room and so I went there, lifted the lantern up towards the bookshelf and started looking for a book to read. I grabbed a few books and brought them to the couch and started to read with the lantern propped up next to the book. All of this felt so natural to me but when I took a minute to think about it, I laughed because this was not normal at all. It was actually quite unique. Where else would I find myself looking through a library of books in the dark with a lantern? Where else would I meet people (who I had never met) who were so genuinely kind? And who knew I would make friends who would turn into family?
It made me realize how lucky I am to be exposed to living life differently. William Arthur Ward said “ The adventure of life is to learn” and I couldn’t agree more. In the smaller picture, I sometimes wonder if I need to put myself through: shortages of electricity, hot sticky nights, and language barriers, but when I zoom out of the smaller picture and see the grander one : I love living life like this. Everyday is an adventure and a different learning experience.
If you are even thinking of going abroad, volunteering, working, or just simply stepping out of your comfort zone I would highly recommend it. There are definitely hiccups along the way, but it is SO worth it.