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Melissa Baxter’s BlogTanzania

The Oral History Project in Tanzania – From the moment that I found out I would be travelling to Tanzania with NSCC, I was filled with excitement and told anyone who would listen about the amazing experience that I was sure I would have. I spent many nights thinking about what I would see, the people I would meet, and the skills I would gain. As my departure date approached, this excitement quickly shifted to anxiety and worry. I had  never travelled to Africa, and had very little idea of what to expect despite having spoken to friends who have visited other parts of the continent.

As soon as I stepped off of the plane onto Tanzanian soil, I realized I had spent so much time worrying for nothing. Almost everyone here that I have encountered has been extremely warm and welcoming, putting Canadians with our friendly reputation to shame. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit this incredible country and explore so much of its culture.

Within the first several days, I was amazed at the depth of the connections that I was able to make with both my fellow NSCC students and the students at VHTTI in Arusha. After an amazing welcome consisting of traditional dancing and drinks, we wasted no time making friends and teaching each other about our respective countries. We ate together, danced together, and experienced many new things together as we visited various cultural sites. Despite our very different backgrounds, we all had so much in common and it was often easy to forget that we grew up halfway across the world from each other. Very early in the week I was already dreading the time that we would have to leave our new family  behind and begin the next leg of our journey.

Although I missed Arusha, the second week of our trip was just as amazing, but in different ways. We did not have as many opportunities to interact with the students here, but when we did it was incredible how quickly we connected and before we knew it we were like old friends. We also had the opportunity to experience even more culture by visiting a rural Mang'ati village and walking around Mikumi in our free time.

This trip has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life, but I would be lying if I said that it has been a total walk in the park. Diving headfirst into an entirely new setting is never easy for me, especially when that setting is across the world from everything that I know. There were times when I missed home and all of its comforts, and was not sure if I could handle it. I am also  not used to being constantly busy,  surrounded by people and always being “on". I did find it a bit tough at times, but thanks to a positive attitude, and the support of my amazing group who have become like family to me, I was able to face these challenges and make the most of my time here in Tanzania. I feel that these obstacles have made me a stronger person who is able to take on any situation that I am thrown into. This experience has helped to show me how adaptable I can be and has pushed me to step even further out of my comfort zone in order to grow as a person. I truly look forward to applying the new skills and confidence that I have gained to all areas of my life, including my career.

As an accounting student, this trip may not have been directly connected to my field of study but I do not feel that it matters in the slightest. At home I can be easily trained to do journal entries, tax returns, and bank reconciliations. However, the soft skills and new perspectives that I have gained in Tanzania are not something I could have ever gained while sitting in my accounting classroom back in Nova Scotia. I know that this experience has not only made me a better person, but will make me a better employee as well and I think that there is much to be said about the impact that these programs have on the students who choose to embrace them.

Melissa Baxter

Business Administration Student

NSCC Cumberland Campus

 

 

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