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Choosing to volunteer in Tanzania

Two recent graduates discuss why they chose to volunteer for Mvumi Secondary School

Name: Alana Moorhead

Degree course: Viticulture and Oenology (Lincoln University, Christchurch)

Graduation: 2018

Volunteering at Mvumi Secondary School was an amazing experience which I will forever look back on and be grateful and proud of. The entire experience was an incredible adventure which had many amazing days but of course some tough days too.

During our stay we took English tutorials, helped with financials and book work, painted boarding houses, worked with visually impaired students, set up computer programs and assisted with teaching in classrooms.

I found working with the students to develop their conversational English extremely rewarding as the students were so ambitious and eager to learn.  Most of the students which we were working with had already learnt two languages prior to English, their tribal language and Swahili. However, at secondary school everything is taught in English. I can only imagine how challenging it must be learning Chemistry and Maths in something other than your first language. Their positivity and drive to succeed was truly inspiring.

Having never travelled to a third world county before it was a massive shock and initially I found this very hard. It made me realise how fortunate I was and I now have greater appreciation for what I have and the life I live. The people of Mvumi village had very little yet they had this peaceful satisfaction with life which heightened what is most important but often overlooked in our society.

I really enjoyed the different culture and way of life. The experience has had many positive impacts on myself as an individual. I hope I was able to better someone else’s life and help develop school facilities while volunteering at Mvumi Secondary School.

I wish to return someday in the near future and I could not recommend volunteering abroad more highly.

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Name: Alex Fraser

Degree course: Geography (Victoria University, Wellington)

Graduation: 2018

I recently spent my summer university break volunteering at Mvumi Secondary School, in Tanzania. Now if this wasn’t the most rewarding experience in my 21 years of life, I don’t know what is.

To start off with a bit of background, Mvumi is a very small village, somewhat out in the wops in central Tanzania. Although it is only 40km South of the capital Dodoma, you throw Tanzanian roads into the mix and you get yourself about a two-hour drive.

Upon our arrival to the school, we were tasked with a number of different activities to help out. This included helping out inside the classroom, spending time in the visually impaired unit, making resources for the blind students and typing notes in braille. Then there were other odd jobs like painting the sponsored boys lodging house, creating a Moodle site for the teachers and students, tutoring form one students in English after school a few times per week and taking part in afternoon sports and games.

It truly was an amazing experience, and really helped to put things into perspective. The students at Mvumi came from nothing compared to our cushy lives, yet had so much ambition, discipline and determination, which was so inspiring.

We felt that everything we did, no matter how big or small, made a huge impact on the school. The feeling you get from putting your skills and knowledge to good, meaningful use is deeply rewarding. The smile on a student’s face when they master a new English word, or get a question you set them right is something so satisfying.

All I can say is to get out there and experience it for yourself.  Not only are you helping those in need, there is an extraordinary personal benefit. You learn so much from living in another culture, especially from a developing country. It really helps to realize how privileged we really are and what is important in life, as well as challenging your previous ways of conditioned thinking.

It is hard to give the experience justice in such a short amount of words, but I couldn’t recommend it more.

For more on volunteering, see the Careers Service website.

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