Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Noloholo, Day 35: The Example I Set

Lazaro, who is in 10th grade, came to speak to me after dinner. He had mentioned two days ago that he really admired me because I had 3 degrees. Today he asked me what advice I had. How could he achieve his dream of attending college in America? Lazaro is one of our most outgoing scholars, and although he comes off as cocky sometimes, he is constantly asking questions and trying to learn. He is also an orphan, and at 20, is old for his grade.

This is the first time that I’ve felt like my master’s degrees really counted for something. I thought a lot about how hard my parents and their parents had to work to give me this life. And here is this young man, wanting the same opportunity that they had. I can’t even imagine the struggle that he will have to go through, the effort he’ll have to put in if he truly want to attend college in the US. Lazaro asked me to write my advice down tonight, and give it to him in the morning.

I felt suddenly conscious of the example I was making for all the scholars and children. How I act matters. I cannot be afraid to speak in public, because then the children will see that an educated American woman is afraid to speak. I cannot look like I am not working, because the children will see that, too. I am a role model here, whether I wish it or not. The responsibility is real.

Today we had another dance party, and a more organized demonstration of Maasai dancing. I stayed on the sidelines this time, remaining an observer. It was a choice, as is everything these days. Later, we Americans taught more Cotton Eye Joe, as well as the YMCA dance. At the end, people gave speeches to say thank you for the wonderful week of summer camp. I’m not sure why, but watching the elder staff give their speeches made me want to run home to my family and especially to my grandparents. I miss them, I miss their wisdom and calm demeanors, I miss the wisdom and grounding that they represent in my life.

We climbed ngahari in the afteroon, the twin peaks of Loibor Siret. In the distance, under an immense baobab, was a pair of elephants. The sun was hot. I am half awake from chai and dancing and half exhausted from hiking and sun exposure. I don’t know what is next; I am constantly startled by this place.
Tags: travel - tanzania
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