It was this time last year that I was planning for fundraisers and preparing for my trip to Tanzania – not knowing the extent to which travelling and working in Arusha was going to change my life. It’s been seven months since I’ve returned home, but Tanzania is still a big part of my life, even though I’m no longer there. This trip has taught me a great deal, of which the top five lessons I will share:
1. To appreciate what I have. Although we were living in a pretty comfortable home in Tanzania, living there still taught me to appreciate what I have in Canada. Taking hot showers, getting clean water from the tap, and using my phone in public are just small things I now appreciate. Having a chance to go to school, having a job, and being respected as a young person are the bigger things that I have learned to appreciate after coming back from Tanzania.
2. Friendships can also be long distance. I am lucky to have kept in contact with many of the people I met in Tanzania, including the students, the family we stayed with, and other friends that we made along the way. Whether they are my co-volunteers on the other side of the country, or friends from the other side of the world – we all have a special and unbreakable connection.
3. I have the travel bug. A couple of months after coming back, I found myself on a plane again, this time to New York. After travelling to Tanzania, I know how much fun travelling can be and how much I love it!
4. My passion is to teach (everywhere). Before my trip, I had a lot of experience teaching locally, but being able to teach in another country was one of the most rewarding experiences yet. I was able to learn a new culture, share my own culture, and learn a new language, all while doing what I love – teaching. This trip has definitely proved to me that I want to teach wherever a plane can take me.
5. I can do whatever I set my mind to. Having travelled alone and being away from family for a whole summer, I can no longer give myself excuses as to why “I can’t.” This experience continues to push me to get out of my comfort zone to do what it is I really want to do, because I know that I am capable.
Once I came back to Canada, my normal schedule kicked in, and I found myself back into the ‘robot school-mode’ of life. Not content with this, I find myself reflecting on my trip a lot. I often find that small things spark my memory back to my trip, thinking about the fun times and amazing connections I shared with so many people. This is great motivation for me, because it keeps me appreciating the amazing experience I had and it gets me excited for what my future holds.
-Sureet Rai, YCI Alumni, Tanzania 2011
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