The start of my second semester in September of 2017, our class was told about an opportunity to implement their IT skills and explore Tanzania, Africa. I was immediately interested and started the ball rolling to get accepted for the NSCC International program. I have never been overseas, and to travel abroad for my work placement was very exciting for me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to organize the trip and to raise the funds needed to go, but I was determined to make this happen. The mission was to go to a college at VETA Mikumi to improve their network infrastructure and add wireless to their campus. Fast forward to May 3rd, 2018: I managed to get accepted for the program, raise all the funds needed, and found myself on a 30-hour flight with other students in the NSCC International program to Dar es Salaam.
I was told many stories from others I knew that have traveled to Africa to prepare me for my trip; however, landing in Tanzania and seeing things for myself has been eye opening. I was literally in a whole new way of life and culture. The unknown can be scary, and I would be lying if I said I felt comfortable right away. It is a different way of life, and you quickly realize how much we have and take for granted. That being said, it is important not to focus on what we have and what they don’t and focus on how incredible it is being in a new country and surrounded by the African culture. Dar es Salaam is a very big city with people everywhere, and a large amount of the population lives on the streets, setting up homes in the nooks and crannies. It is a bit disheartening to see so many sleeping on the streets at night, but in the day, the place comes alive, and people go about their daily routine unfazed and begin the daily hustle. People are amazing and make the best of what they have, and you see this all around you in Dar es Salaam. When you look closer, you see the beauty all around you. One thing I do have to say is that the driving is just crazy; road signs and lights seem to be more of a suggestion. I have never seen drivers like this – it’s insane; the motorcyclist are even crazier. I would never want to be behind the wheel! Luckily, our drivers for the trip seem to have a good handle on how to maneuver around.
We only spent a few days in the city and then headed out to Mikumi and on to our mission. On the way, we made a few stops and met some more people, and got to start getting to know some of my other travel companions. While I’ve realized how much I’ve take for granted, I want to focus on just how positive my experience was living and working at the VETA Mikumi college. The faculty and students have shown us nothing but love. Solomoni, the head of the ICT program, in particular has made us feel welcome and at home. At every turn, there was a smiling face and someone to help us with our work. Learning the basics of Swahili has been a great experience, and the locals seem to really appreciate the effort to learn.
Each day at the campus, we would wake up early to meet for breakfast and head off to work. After two years of school working to become an IT network system management specialist, it is just amazing to be able to apply my skills, to improve the entire Network of the campus, and to share the knowledge I have learned. When we showed up with our equipment, the college only had internet running to 2 out of 15 buildings on the entire campus. It is now just two days before we are about to start our journey back to Canada, and we now have WIFI across the entire place, and 11 buildings, including the hospitality center, now have a solid connection to the local network and the internet.
There is so much to see and do in Mikumi. Every direction you look, there is something beautiful to see. We have been welcomed and shown many things, including, but not limited to, going on a safari at the Mikumi National Park. There were so many beautiful animals and creatures to see everywhere. Not only have I learned about new cultures and people, I also got to successfully use my skills to help out the VETA Mikumi College. Words cannot express how important this whole experience has been for me, and I look forward to the day that I can visit again.
NSCC IT Campus