Tanzania Service Trip: NDA Student Perspective


I interviewed Emma Wall ’21 about her mission trip with NDA to Tanzania. She shared her experiences with me and talked about what the mission was all about.

1. Why did you decide to go on this trip?

I wanted to go, one, because when do you get to go to Africa? And I wanted to do a service project and this one seemed really cool because you got to build a school. And it was just kind of luck that I got to go because I wasn’t accepted until the summer before when someone dropped out.

2. Where did you stay when you were there?

The first two days we got there we stayed at the UAACC (United African Alliance Community Center). We stayed there because it was like an orphanage so we could get used to the new culture. Then we went to a home stay so I lived in a little house a mile from the school. One of the last few nights we were there, we camped out on a safari. We had to stay in a hotel when we had the [flight] delay and the last night.

3. What did you do while you were there?

At the UAACC we hung out with the kids and we learned a little bit about what Tanzania and the culture was like. At the homestay, we got immersed in the culture. We did the service project, we built the school, we helped out around the house, we taught English lessons, painted a mural, and went on a safari.

4. Was it easy with no phone/electronics/service?

There were certain parts when you wanted it, especially when you got homesick or when you wanted to text your mom. But for the most part it was great, the only electronic I had was my camera. It was really great to communicate with people face to face and not over text.

5. What did you eat?

We ate a lot of carbs and starches like potatoes and pasta every meal with no vegetables what so ever. There is this dish called ugali which is corn, flour and water and you can roll it up to use it as a spoon to scoop beans. Sometimes we would have chicken or fish but it’s not like the kind we have here. You drink a lot of chai and milk chai too.

6. What were the people like?

They were super nice and they just wanted to say hi to you because the people and most of the kids had never seen a white person before, so they kind of just wanted to come over and talk to you and get to know. They were all so nice.

7. What was the mission of the trip? Was it fulfilled?

The mission of the trip was to do community outreach and build part of a classroom, which we did; we finished the entire structure of the classroom besides the roof. Also just to empower people there and to show that women can do anything, pretty much.

8. Did you form good bonds with the people?

Yeah. Not only did I form great bonds with all the girls that came, I’ll never forget my homestay family. I remember my mom (of the homestay family) we sang happy birthday to her [in English] and then the next morning she was humming it to herself. Our two little brothers would run up to us at school too.

9. Did this experience change you? If yes, how so?

It definitely changed me because I come back home and I’m more aware of everything we have here and how lucky we are. Especially with school in general. Every time I open my locker I see all the binders and notebooks I have I think about how they use the same sheet of paper to do everything and they just write over the writing they have.

10. Describe the trip in 3 words.

Challenging, heartwarming, and life-changing.

11. What was your favorite part of the entire trip?

I really liked the homestay, even though it was really tough because it’s really rustic living and not at all what we have here; no matter how much you try to prepare yourself, it’s going to be hard. But the connections I had with my family and my homestay partner were so great that that was my favorite part.

12. What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I could do more than I expected and that I didn’t need as much help as I thought I did and that I can do anything.