Kloi volunteered at Kigamboni Community Centre (KCC) in Kigamboni, Dar Es Salaam, for 3 months and arrived in Autumn 2016.
She is originally from the US.
1. Why did you choose to come volunteer?
The world of Non-Profit work has been my interest for a long time, in fact the school I was going to was specific to this field.
I picked KCC because I knew that it was going to benefit not only me as a person, but I was sure that I could also help the people at the project.
2. What was your first impression when you arrived?
I was completely overwhelmed by my new surroundings - everything was so different from what I expected. The endless searches on YouTube about Dar Es Salaam did very little to prepare me for the cultural shock I was about to experience.
3. What was your hosting situation like?
I was living with an amazing host family composed of as many as fifteen people, eight of them being children. Living with them was key to adapting quickly to the different surroundings, because they welcomed me as part of their family from the very beginning.
Osman, my host brother, was the one person that helped me the most - if it wouldn't have been for him, I would have probably not been able to complete my full three months in Tanzania.
Everything went smoothly with my host family except a bit of miscommunication on my last week, which was promptly solved by the guys at United Planet Tanzania.
4. What did your typical day look like?
A typical day for me would usually start at 9 a.m. and end around 11 p.m.
During the week, after shower and breakfast, I would head to KCC to teach English class for two hours. Before arriving in Tanzania, I was under the impression I would just be assisting the teacher with lesson plans; instead, I soon found out that I was the main teacher and needed to come up with my own lesson plans!
After class, I used to go to hang out at Mikadi Beach with the other volunteers.
We would head back to the centre for evening activities - I would sometimes play netball with friends and kids or teach English to an older woman who used to come to KCC every now and again.
Later in the evening, I would head home for dinner, shower again and do something with my current boyfriend out in Dar.
5. What were you up to during your spare time?
I would spend my weekends out with friends - during the day we would go to Mikadi Beach and in the evening we would go out to bars and clubs.
6. What was the most difficult thing about your experience?
The most difficult thing about my trip was learning how to say no - there are so many people that need help in Tanzania and unfortunately, I couldn't help everyone. I learned that the hard way and almost went through my one-month budget in only two weeks.
When it comes to the project instead, I found that the most difficult task was coming up with a lesson plan that was suitable for all of the students. I had to teach to kids of different ages and different English levels who were all in the same class.
7. What was the best thing about your experience?
The best thing about my experience was the people I met - they were all amazing, so welcoming and friendly.
My host brothers and sisters felt like actual biological siblings and I loved them as if they were family, and I could feel it was the same for them.
The students at KCC had such a passion for learning and were so thankful for the help they got.
The boys at the shelter changed my life - they are so kind, funny, caring, and have so much love to give to others.
I also met my boyfriend in Tanzania. He was easily one of the best things about my experience in Tanzania.
8. What did you learn or gain from your volunteer placement?
I gained so many new lifelong friendships and learned so many new things. The most important lesson I learned was to be open-minded and be patient.
I was so upset my first week in Tanzania because of the language barrier. I didn't know Swahili and most people didn't know English, so I found it nearly impossible to communicate and explain myself. Fortunately, I soon realized that the best conversations don't need any words - the humour in the confusion of trying to understand each other was enough to make us all laugh and become ever closer together. In the end, the language barrier was just a blessing in disguise.
If I could give some advice to any new volunteers, it would be this: be ready to get out of your comfort zone. It is ok to help others, but while doing so, remember that it is impossible for you to help everyone. Be open-minded. Lastly, bear in mind that your time will go by so quickly and it will be over before you know it. So enjoy it while you can and try to make the most out of your experience.