While in Tanzania,
I learned the importance of happiness
I was always asked by my Tanzanian friends if I was happy. It wasn’t a deep question, like if I was happy with my life in general, but more of in the moment. They asked after we went to an event, or when we were together and playing cards, or if we just finished eating. And I always said yes. I was told to be happy with myself. To put my happiness first. To do the things that make me happy. I learned that being happy didn’t mean that you were selfish, but the exact opposite. It meant that you could share that happiness with others.
I learned that less is more
The life style in Tanzania is a lot different than here, but I think that s a bit obvious. They have different priorities, a different pace of life. What’s important to them is family education and God. There’s not as much emphasis on having too much in order to be happy. Instead happiness was found in simplicity.
I learned that theres not always a better style of living, just a different one
Like I said, the lifestyle is different and so is the culture. We might do things here that Tanzanians see as weird. For example, my tour guide for the spice tour said that greetings are very important and asked me why in America people pass each other without even saying “Hi”. He asked why we live such lives. People also question how much we value being on time and why we rush so much. However, Tanzanians do things that Americans might think is odd, such as washing after using the bathroom or having two guys who are just friends hold hands out in public. But there’s nothing wrong with either. What is right for one is different from what is right for someone else. In retrospect, somethings are neither right or wrong, they are just different.
I was at peace
I wasn’t stressed about what I had to do next. I was told to stay in the moment. I thought about the future less and less and enjoyed the now more and more.
I found Humanity and Kindness
I was told that Tanzanians aren’t too worried about making it to appointments on time because human interactions and connections are more important. This means that if they are on their way to a certain place and they encounter someone they know, they will stop and make conversation regardless of lack of time they might have. Human interaction is extremely valued and making people feel good , happy and at home was at the epicenter of their interactions. Strangers began to feel like family. You never felt alone.
The hospitality towards foreigners is unbelievable. When we met one of the students at PHCI, she gave some of the girls headbands and told us that it was a part of her culture to give.Every where we went, people not only gave materialistically, but emotionally. They gave us kindness. They made us feel humanity and compassion and it was amazing.
I learned how to slow down
The first time I was told to slow down was when I was walking. I was told to just take my time, to take in what was around me, to be in the present. This is something that I’ve been telling myself all the time, but I definitely needed to hear from someone else. I needed to be reminded that its not always about the destination, but about the journey.
I felt more myself
I felt at home. Physically and within myself. I didn’t have to be protective, or hide parts of myself or my vulnerability. I could be nice and open without the fear of being taken advantage of. Because everyone was genuine, I was pushed to be the same.
I felt closer to God
You begin to see God clearly and feel him closely when there are less distractions, when you are around people who are happy with little and who put Him at the center of their lives in whatever way they chose.
I learned more about myself
About what I liked, about what I disliked and about parts of me and the happiness that I’ve lost in the chaos called life.
I felt naturally beautiful in and out
It’s because I was genuine and because I felt myself and everywhere I went everyone that I met greeted me with compassion and I tried to do the same. There’s something about walking around with love in your actions and intentions that makes you feel beautiful without even trying to be beautiful, without putting on foundation or lipstick or the coolest clothes.
So can I say that I feel a bit changed after this trip? yes. Can I say that I will come back in the future? Inshallah (If God wills).