By Lauren Frigm* *Lauren is a guest blogger. She graduated from James Madison University in 2013 and leaves tomorrow for Tanzania as a Peace Corps Volunteer. You can follow her journey on her blog, Lauren Takes Tanzania. If you are interested in guest blogging for ATOB, please email us at AsToldOverBrunch@gmail.com.
Starting tomorrow, February 8, I’ll be fulfilling a dream of mine by departing for 27 months to Tanzania as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I will be living and working in a rural village, helping local farmers to reach goals of sustainable agriculture. If all goes well, this will help the community become more food secure and have more complete nutrition.
I have gotten a lot of mixed reactions from friends, family, and strangers when I tell them all this. A lot of people think I’m crazy for wanting to live in a rural Tanzanian village for that long. Some people offer total admiration/jealousy (this is the most appreciated response; THANK YOU, I am a noble person). Others try to talk me out of it because they think I’m going to get Ebola (don’t even get me started about why this is the most ignorant response of them all). But the most common response is a lot of questions.
Most questions center around my life in Tanzania for the next two years. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of answers. I don’t know the details of the village I will be living in or the project I will be working on. I do know that I have been thinking about this for a LONG time, and I have developed my own semi-bucket list of what I want to be doing with myself during my time in Tanzania.
Here are some highlights from this extensive list.(Trust me, you don’t want to read the whole thing.)
See an elephant or a giraffe or a hippo. Being a nature nerd, many of my top priorities revolve around flora and fauna I want to track down. Tanzania hosts a diverse population of species and is home to all the stereotypical African animals. Here’s to hoping my backyard will be a safari on its own!
Don’t see any snakes. Snakes are terrifying. They make up many of my nightmares. I wouldn’t mind seeing a cool snake from a healthy distance, but one of my goals for the next 2 years is no snakes in my house, please. That is my safe zone. Depending on the structure of my house, this may or may not be a realistic goal.
Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I LOVE to hike. I have hiked to the top of many a mountain in the U.S., but nothing close to Kilimanjaro. Bring. It. On.
Eat like a Tanzanian. I am not a picky eater in the least; I usually will at least try anything that’s put in front of me. However, I think this is going to be tested in the next couple of years. I brought my own personal bottle of Sriracha; hopefully, my favorite condiment will make eating lots of mystery food a bit easier.
Bring bluegrass to a village. Music is an important part of my life (not that I am a musician; I just love it). I've got my iPod classic loaded up with 100 GB of American music, and I sincerely hope I can both introduce some great American music to Tanzanians as well as add some awesome local jams to my collection.
Empower a little girl. One of these had to be semi-professional, right? As a conservative society, women play a very traditional role in Tanzanian villages. If I can make one little girl see there are other options for her out there – that she can be anything she wants to be – I will go home happy.
Well, that is a taste of what I will be doing in Tanzania – along with mobilizing a community to meet sustainable agriculture goals, but I figured that’s stating the obvious a bit.
Wish me luck! See you in two years, America!