Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I went on a SAFARI!!
So, I never thought I’d say, “When I was on safari in the Serengeti….” but here I am about to tell you about the coolest way to spend a holiday. Jessica and Marissa had been traveling around through Uganda and Kenya and we planned to meet up in Tanzania. Liz, Cady, and I flew into Kilimanjaro International Airport and took a taxi to Moshi, where we stayed with a friend of a friend who is volunteering at Amani Children’s Home. Walking out of her gate on a clear day is a straight shot of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Already in Moshi we were getting a feel for how different Tanzania was from Rwanda. (They are neighboring countries.) We went on to Arusha, where we planned to see the tribunal trials for the Rwandan Genocide. The UN designated Arusha as a neutral place to hold these trials, and we hear that since a lot of time has gone by, they are currently hosting trials for people who were key figures in the genocide. Our trusty Lonely Planet guide said they were held Mon-Thurs, which did not turn out so trustworthy. The next trial would be Jan 5, the day we left Tanzania. So, we didn’t get to see a trial, or even get a tour of the courtroom. That will be top of the list if I ever find myself in Tanzania again.

We stayed at Arusha Backpackers, which was a great scene. We spent New Years in Arusha before safari. There is no ball dropping in Tanzania, in case you weren’t aware. I didn’t exactly know what you do for New Years if there isn’t a ball drop, but we managed to celebrate accordingly. We had champagne, ate dinner, and went to a restaurant garden party that was a small but fun crowd.
Safari was AMAZING! Despite our car troubles (like having to push it to get started multiple times), we were able to see the Ngorongoro Crater, spend the night at a campsite on the rim and then travel through the Serengeti during the wildebeest migration! We saw at least 40 different animals (I was keeping a list), including the ‘Big 5’. The only thing we feel like we missed out on was seeing a wild animal attack…we did watch a lioness prowl through the grass towards a group a zebras and wildebeests, but they spotted her and went in the other direction….bummer.
It was a blast to be able to experience the safari trip with my good friends. And we were quite a sight too…it is not every day that a group of 5 girls our age are lucky enough to be traveling on a safari through the Serengeti together!

School starts again on Wednesday! There are some things I’m really looking forward to about this semester. We have two new administrators at KICS that will be an enormous asset. One of the ways my class will benefit is that Miss Emily will come twice a week so that we have can two guided reading groups going on at once. I’m also looking forward to finally getting curriculum for reading that will help me so much in connecting reading instruction. Another exciting endeavor is that we will be going on a few field trips! I’ve been learning about some neat places that will give tours and some even have hands-on participation too. So, although it’s hard to go back to a full time job after a long vacation, I’m still hopeful that this semester will be great.

Holiday was so much fun! I have made new friendships, spent time with people, explored new places in Kigali, been stress-free, traveled, and celebrated. I’ve also thought about home a lot and my life when I return to the US. I don’t know what that season will bring or where I will be or how I will be changed. Of course, we learn from every season of our lives in different ways, but I’m thinking my experience in Rwanda has got to be something more than that. I don’t want to go home and think, “I know I was learning a lot in Africa, and I think it has made me who I am today.” I want to be able to say more specifically what in my heart has changed, my worldview, my motivations and aspirations, and a few lessons I’ve been taught during this season.