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Oral History Project in Tanzania – In the months leading up to our trip to Tanzania, our group would meet weekly to discuss the plans for our Oral History project and talk about what we could potentially be encountering and experiencing. As the months passed and our departure grew nearer, I began to grow more and more excited. I started to remember how much I loved to learn through travel. I have always loved the search for something more and questions like, ‘what’s around the next corner?’ ‘How far can we go?’ ‘What will the universe put in my path today?’ Africa did not disappoint; every single day, I found myself asking how these experiences could be real life. I had to constantly remind myself to try and stay in the moment and take in as much of the incredible experiences as possible. The people are so beautiful in every way, the culture feels deep, and everything is intentional. I think that’s why I was most impacted by all the moments I encountered, whether they were unexpected or familiar. 

            I am an entrepreneur and I own a tattoo shop. While we were in Arusha, I was invited by the only local tattoo shop owner, Naithan, to visit his business. When I arrived, he greeted me with a big smile and a hug. As I sat and got a tattoo, we talked like reunited old friends like I was home in my own shop. I was also offered the opportunity to give a tattoo and preforming my craft in Africa was something monumental for me. The next familiar moment happened in Mikumi, and this one I really wasn’t ready for. We were given the opportunity to visit a Maasai Boma as a group, and it was truly a beautiful experience. We were greeted by such welcoming people, and we were introduced to remarkable traditions and an incredible way of life. That evening I was invited by the tribe leader “Nuhu” to return to the Boma the next morning to visit again with his family. He arrived at the school at 7:00am, and we started the hour journey to his home. As we walked down the path, I ran my fingers through the tall grass and pulled one piece in my hand. I started doing something I had done as a kid so many times in Canada; I stared at the grass and asked, tree or bush? I spent that morning with Nuhu and his family, dressed in the traditional Maasai clothes he had given me. I sat in a circle with his brothers and uncles as we passed around the meat of a freshly slaughtered goat that was cooked on a fire started with the rubbing of sticks. In those moments, my life was changed. I had been a part of something amazing; I was invited into his home and treated like family. As I walked away from that beautiful place, I realized that I had lost a piece of myself, and I left something behind that day and replaced it with something so much more. While I was in Tanzania, I continuously asked myself, ‘is this real life or is this fantasy?’

Derek Hill

ALP Student

NSCC Akerley Campus

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