Today, I met with students from Gustavus Adolphus College, as part of their orientation for an up-coming study trip to Tanzania. They have been reading my Africans and Americans book, and I was happy to be with them, for over two hours, sharing my views and answering their questions.
I had talked with students from Gustavus Adolphus College before, as I reported here. It is always pleasant to be with people like these students, whose desire to learn and broaden their horizons inspires them to go to the remotest corners of the world. What place on earth could be farther away from Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota, than the village of Tungamalenga, in Tanzania's Iringa region? Tungamalenga was exactly where these students were going, alongside several other places in Tanzania.
Like last year, my preliminary remarks dwelt on what I consider the greatest challenge we all face when we visit or live in a foreign culture: to see and understand the other culture on its own terms.
As I looked around the room, I saw only excitement on the students' faces, and positive anticipation. There were copies of my book all around the room, and it was humbling to know that people are actually paying attention to what I wrote and want to know more.
Above, first on the left, is Professor Barbara Zust, who invited me to speak with this group, just as she did last year. Next to her is a relative of hers.
It was a very cold day in Minnesota, but we had had a wide-ranging and heartwarming conversation. Now it was time for the travelers to go back inside and conclude their orientation and get ready for the long flight to Tanzania.