On our first day in Dar es Salaam we went to the Mwenge Market. The Tanzanian people sell their traditional art work at the market. Shopping in Dar es Salaam is very different than in America. The Tanzanians are very friendly and want to show you all of their pieces. They explain how different pieces are made. For example one of the pictures was made of banana leaves. The banana leaves were attached to a piece of fabric and the Tanzanians painted on the top of the leaves. Other types of art they make are called Tinga Tinga art and knife painting. All their art work is very beautiful and very unique.
Through visiting the markets and teaching the school children, we are developing a greater understanding of different cultures. Many of us have experienced communication barriers while teaching our students English. We have learned to be patient, slow down and use our non-verbal language to communicate. We have also learned to adapt to a culture with less structure. The Army has continually taught us the importance of a schedule, sticking to the schedule and being on time. The Tanzanians do not hold that same belief. Classes start and end whenever the teacher says so not when the bell rings. Tea breaks could be fifteen minutes or an hour and a half depending on the conversations. We have all learned to go with the flow and be flexible.
In addition to learning about a new culture, we have also had the opportunity to meet other American government and military officials. Since we are all college students, we do not get the chance to meet other military officers beside our cadre very often. We have been able to share our mission and learn about their missions. This has allowed us to learn more about the types of programs we may be involved with during in our careers. Talking with other military personnel has taught us ten valuable lessons to remember for our futures…
1. Always be professional. You never know who you are talking to.
2. Start making networks now. It is helpful to have connections and mentors.
3. Go to as many schools and training as possible. Never stop learning.
4. Learn new languages.
5. Always be friendly toward strangers.
6. Use every opportunity to better yourself.
7. Learn to adapt to changes.
8. Always have a back-up plan.
9. Take every opportunity to travel overseas.
10. Always communicate with your family. They miss you and love you!
Until next time…kwaheri!