During the March break, 10 Senior School students and two teachers embarked on a World Challenge trip to Tanzania to help build three more classrooms at the Ndiwili Primary School.
The first thing that hit us was the heat – thick and heavy, even at midnight, the heat was clearly going to be a member of our tribe for the next 16 days. As we stepped out into the open air at Dar es Salaam airport, our surroundings sank in. We could not imagine how much we were about to learn and how we would be changed by it.
World Challenge trips focus on student leadership, and in fact, it really is the students who are running the show, each taking a turn to be “leader of the day". From meal planning and preparation, to delegating group and individual responsibilities, to organizing transportation in a country where they have never been before, every twist and turn of the day was navigated by the students. The teachers and expedition leader hang back and watch as the young people rise to the occasion, each learning something different along the way, adding to the overall experience.
The Ndiwili Primary School has 550 students and 11 teachers. The HTS students focused on building classrooms to decrease class size. Time away from the building was spent teaching the children English and playing games with them. For many in the group, this was the highlight of the trip.
Cameron Shim ’17 felt a strong connection to the Ndiwili School and found he learned the most from the young students there. “We had such fun during our project phase with all the kids in the school. I found the experience eyeopening, and it brought me back to my childhood when I didn't have to worry about academics and could just have fun. The kids taught me that you don’t have to have expensive technology to have fun. This was an adventure that I will always cherish and carry with me for the rest of my life.”
The Tanzania service trip stripped students (and teachers) of their technology, gadgets and any connection to what was occurring outside of the world that was right before their eyes. We relied on each other and became a family. It was amazing to watch the students support each other, navigate challenges, invent games, take risks and be vulnerable in front of their peers. When we landed back in the chilly Toronto air, we walked off the plane with the unspoken understanding that we were forever changed.
"The two most important things that I took away from this are how it changed me as a leader and the friendships I made. Being a leader when your group’s survival needs are at stake is a little bit more challenging than a normal leadership experience such as being a house captain at school."
Colin Darling ’17
"Describing my experience in Tanzania is an ineffable as the outer reaches of space. It is the type of experience that builds bonds between people that exceed human communication. Tanzania taught me what it was like to share hardship with others and what it meant to be in a supportive community."