As I reflect on my first ten days in Morogoro, Tanzania, I am content and excited. Morogoro is a beautiful area surrounded by the Uluguru Mountains. Tanzanians share the cultural values of community and the person that have stuck with me during previous time in Kenya. I feel blessed to be surrounded by the mountains and Tanzanians as I learn Swahili this summer.
The ELCT Language School is an excellent setting to learn, to immerse, and just to be. I have been a bit exhausted this week as I adjust to working one-on-one with my teacher for five hours each day. Yet, while this is tiring and I’m swamped with new grammar topics, I can’t quite believe how much I have learned in the last week. It’s exciting to work at such an intensive level. The school facilitates this learning with chai and meal times shared with other Swahili students and your Swahili teachers. While the campus is a bit isolated from the city, most students and many teachers live on the campus so there are constant opportunities to practice speaking or listening to Swahili—and in a comfortable environment. Chai times in the morning and afternoon also provides a nice, and needed, break between classes!
All else aside, the ELCT Language School has the most beautiful campus. I find myself constantly in awe as I sit in class with the part of the mountain range in view. Or as I walk to meals and pass multiple baobab trees (the tree of life, or mbuyu miti in Kiswahili). I have been jogging around the soccer field which gets lots of “mzungu” (foreigner) calls from the children playing, but coming from Indianapolis I much prefer jogging with this scenery! The campus is full of other trees and plants: acacias, palm trees, and one that resembles a pine tree. And all the green is wonderfully contrasted with the red clay of the ground. It’s a bonus I greatly enjoy, learning in such a beautiful setting. I’m hoping to hike the mountain this or the following weekend with my teacher and some other students.
The teachers at the school are excellent, offering to take us to town or on hikes. This really facilitates an introduction into the community that may be intimidating without their assistance. Last week, I traveled into the city twice with another student and one of the teachers. The city is bustling and was exciting to experience. I was surprised by how Swahili seems to be almost the sole form of communication. This is very different from Kenya where English and ethnic languages are spoken in great conjunction with Swahili. I knew that Swahili was much more used in Tanzania, but I didn’t understand the extent until visiting Morogoro. We took a daladala to get there which is one of the most common forms of public transportation in Tanzania. Essentially, it is a van that squeezes lots and lots of passengers in and provides cheap transportation. The saying is that a daladala is never full! It was exciting taking this because I attempted to use Swahili when paying fare and experienced a staple mode of transportation. I’m looking forward to visiting town more to get a better understanding of restaurants, shops, and the area as a whole!