Jacob volunteered at Kigamboni Community Centre (KCC) in Kigamboni, Dar Es Salaam, for 4 months and arrived in Autumn 2012.
He is originally from Switzerland and at the time he was an electrical engineer.
1. Why did you choose to volunteer?
I decided to take a sabbatical before starting my university degree. During this time I wanted to explore Africa, as its diversity and culture always fascinated me.
2. What was your first impression when you arrived?
I was warmly welcomed in Dar, both in my project and in my host family. After the orientation day with the staff from United Planet Tanzania, I was introduced to the KCC staff and to my family. I immediately felt I was part of the Kigamboni community.
3. What was your hosting situation like?
I lived with the family of one of KCC's contributors. The house was about a 5-minute walk from the centre and with easy access to the city centre.
Family life was fun and it helped me to understand the Tanzanian culture and language a lot faster.
4. What did your typical day look like?
I used to get up at around 7:30 a.m. in the morning to have breakfast with my host brother. Then, I brought my youngest brother to kindergarten and started my workday at KCC.
In the mornings, I focused on social media coordination, preparation of English classes and helped wherever my collaboration was needed. At noon, we held the first English lesson of the day.
Most of the times, in the afternoon, I had Tanzanian handcraft lessons or Kiswahili classes.
In the early evenings, there were normally several different activities at KCC with acrobatics, dancing, drumming and acting classes; the second English lesson of the day took place at that time too.
Later in the evenings, I would have dinner and do other activities such as playing games, watching movies or football matches with the host family.
5. What were you up to when you were not volunteering?
I spent most of my free time with my host family and friends. We played card games, chilled at home, went to the nearby beach or explored different areas inside the city.
On weekends we used to go around Dar, which is easily reachable from Kigamboni. At night we could enjoy the lively areas of the city and dance to Bongo Flava.
I went on two short holidays, during which I visited Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar, together with other volunteers.
6. What was the most difficult thing about your experience?
The hardest thing was learning Swahili, because it has barely any similarities to any other language I ever learned in my life! But I'm happy to say that, thanks to my teacher, host family, friends and even many strangers I met on the street, I was encouraged to practice and learn at least a few sentences.
7. What was the best thing about your experience?
Fortunately, I loved so many things about this experience: the people, the project I was working at and let's not forget about the country itself, with its interesting culture!
I enjoyed my time in Dar a lot and got to know many good friends and a great culture. KCC is a dynamic project with several motivated staff members and entrepreneurs with whom I really enjoyed working with.
8. What did you learn or gain from your volunteer placement?
I learned several lessons I'll cherish for life during these four months.
My stay changed my life back at home in a very positive way. I would recommend a volunteer experience - the longer the better - to anybody else who is keen to get to know Tanzania from another perspective rather than the one of a tourist.