Saturday, February 4, 2012

American Students Reflect on Studying in Tanzania

Last year, I wrote blog posts on a trip I took to Tanzania with students on the LCCT program. Read, for example, this post.

I was in Tanzania with these students for three weeks and then I left them at the University of Dar es Salaam, where they studied for one semester. That is how the program works.

Upon their return to the USA, the students get the opportunity to talk about their experiences in Tanzania to a gathering of LCCT program advisors. We met today at St. Olaf College, for this purpose.

We heard these students talk about the orientation I led, their studies of Swahili and other subjects at the University of Dar es Salaam, dorm life and life in general in Tanzania.

While enrolled at the University of Dar es Salaam, these students get the opportunity to volunteer as teachers at Mlimani Primary School, which is on the campus.

In August last year, during my visit to Mlimani Primary School to prepare for the students' teaching there, the teachers told me that the school appreciates the work of the American students. They pointed out, for example, how the American students help the Mlimani pupils to improve their English.

We as advisors of the LCCT program are used to hearing these students extolling the value of their study abroad experience as life-changing.

We are also proud of the fact that we offer them orientation before they start their studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. They read about Tanzania's history and its political, economic, social and cultural realities. We make sure that they gain some understanding of the thoughts and influence of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. We seek, in these ways, to ensure that the students gain the most from their stay in Tanzania and their experience of culture shock is not too disruptive.

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