I woke up around 5:30 in the morning on our last day. Before I left for the airport, I was able to see the very beginning of the sunrise over the ocean. It was about an hour drive to the airport in Zanzibar. We flew into Dar es Salaam and then waited there for about 7 hours before we boarded our Emirates plane to Dubai, which was about 6 hours. I tried to sleep, but ended up watching a few movies and doing some reading. We got to Dubai very late and I went straight to sleep in our overnight hotel.
We woke up around 5:30, ate breakfast, and headed to the airport for our flight to LAX. I was surprised but appreciative of the intensive, multi-layered security before we boarded the plane. There was standard airport security before getting to the gate, another security check at the first gate counter, and then in the holding area before boarding, I got pulled into a room and had my hands and my belongings swabbed and screened. The Dubai to LAX flight was about 16 hours, but it seemed like it lasted for a week! I tried to sleep a bit, but was only able to for about 2 hours. The rest of the time was spent watching movies and reading. I also got up and walked around the plane a lot during this flight. There were many parents with young children on board and I ended up playing little games with them to give their parents a break, which was very entertaining for me.
When we finally landed in LAX, we went through a very long customs process and then said goodbye to each other as we ventured home. As I drove home, I called my family to tell them I was safely back in the U.S. and we talked about some things from my trip. I was welcomed home by my roommate, Karina, and her pup, Finn, some homemade cookies, and a delicious sushi dinner with my boyfriend, Matt.
All in all, I can confidently say that I cannot wait to go back to Tanzania!
Tutaonana rafiki (see you later friend!)
I woke up fairly early to go have breakfast before meeting our boat captain at 10 o'clock. I walked upstairs to where breakfast was being served and couldn't believe my eyes. I had the most gorgeous view of the water! I think this was the best breakfast experience I had throughout the trip because it was so lovely to sit in such a beautiful place and enjoy Tanzanian/Zanzibar "donuts" (the brown pastry in the photo below).
We walked down to the water and boarded a very small boat. We rode for about 30 minutes until reaching a sand bar in the middle of the ocean. It was so breathtaking! Our boat captain cooked us prawns, fish, lobster, and lots of "chips" (french fries), which we ate for lunch on the sandbar. I then went snorkeling with Dr. Jez. I wish I had an underwater camera, although I am not sure photos of the coral reefs would do them any justice.
We took the boat back into Zanzibar and then went on a tour of Stone Town and the slave market. Our tour guide showed us a Catholic church in the middle of the town and then the underground slave holding areas and slave museum. We learned that Zanzibar was a big slave trading post until the British came and abolished the trade in the late 1800s. When the slave trade was abolished, we learned that the island looked to cloves as a way to turn the island into a spice trade island.
After our tour, we drove to a spice farm and learned all about the different spices they grew and what they did with them. My favorite was the cinnamon tree. The leaves did not smell much like cinnamon, but the guide handed me a piece of bark that smelled like Christmas. We purchased many different products the farm grew including soap and perfume and we were also able to purchase a variety of spice packets for cooking.
On our drive from the spice farm to our final hotel destination we ended up getting a flat tire. This was not a great situation because we were in the middle of island vegetation, which was only lit by the moon and stars in the sky. It was a very interesting experience. As we were sitting there, two men walked out of the dark vegetation. One ended up being a long-time family friend of our driver and the other lived close enough that he was able to go home and bring back oil and some tools to help fix the flat. The spare tire we had ended up being flat as well so our driver had his brother come pick us up and give him a new tire for his car. It was through this experience that I was able to see how community-based this culture is and how willing people were to help one another even late at night in the unlit outskirts.
We got to our bungalow hotel around 10 o'clock at night, had some dinner, and went to sleep. We were sad to leave Zanzibar, but we were very ready to board our plane the next day to begin our travels back to the United States.
Day 12 was the first of our "vacation" days along this journey as we were all so proud of ourselves completing our first conference presentation. We took a long bus ride down from the Magamba mountains to a tiny airport in Tanga, Tanzania. We boarded our prop plane first to Pembe, an island off the coast of Tanzania, and then continued on to the island of Zanzibar. It was a beautiful journey and we were all very excited to be in warmer, tropical weather! When we arrived in Zanzibar, we dropped our bags at our hotel and changed for dinner. After a walk through Stone Town, we came to Freddie Mercury's restaurant and decided to eat there. I had fresh prawns as I enjoyed the island warmth and the restaurant's replays of Radio Gaga and Bohemian Rhapsody.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest before our sandbar adventure the next day.
The final day of the conference was the most fun. We spent our day in and out of research conferences, which were educational and invigorating. However, we spent most of our day connecting with all the friends we made and making sure we had pictures and contacts.
My favorite presentation from this day was from a woman who is a mod/severe teacher at a district right next to mine in San Diego - small world! The research she presented encompassed the use of music class as a platform for inclusive education. She partnered with a music teacher at her middle school and worked to develop a program for her mod/severe students within the parameters of a typical music education class. Her research was very well received by the group and we all greatly enjoyed learning the music techniques, which involved color patterns matched with musical notes.
The conference ended with remarks on inclusive education and our role as special educators in the world at large. The conference was then officially closed and we proceeded to the gala dinner and auction. The auction was hilariously lively as the auctioneer laughed and teased people getting them to bid against each other. We all then boarded our busses back to the hotels. We packed our bags upon our return and got a good night's sleep for our journey to Zanzibar the next day.
The second day of the conference was very enjoyable. I met a friend named Krypton who is visually impaired. He asked me to guide him to different presentations throughout the day and I am so glad he did! We entered the first presentation, which was on research practice in education. The presenter made a point that educators and people involved with education need to "walk the walk" and not just "talk the talk" about inclusion and inclusive practices in education. He showed the group his business card, which was typed on one side and Braille on the other. He handed it to Krypton and Krypton read it to the group. It was a great learning moment for everyone in the room.
We stayed in the same room before the tea break and lunch to listen to a few more presentations. One was very striking and has stuck with me. The researcher presented on findings from working with parents of children with disabilities in Tanzania and Kenya. He told us that most of the parents would not send their children to school because they considered their child to be, "useless". As disheartening as a comment like that is, it resonated with the group. The parents the researcher spoke with informed him that they relied on their children to help with the family's occupation, like farming. Therefore, they did not see value in having a child with a disability, explaining that the child could not help to the necessary degree for valuable work production. This sparked a lot of interesting conversation amongst the group as we collaborated on sharing ideas for introducing ways in which parents can find value in their children within their various occupational environments.
We ended our day by going to a pizza joint. Yes, a pizza joint! Mama Mia's was about a 7 minute walk in the middle of the town of Lushoto. We ordered cheese pizza, pesto pasta, and cokes. It was a welcomed meal after a long day.
We woke up early in the morning, ate some bread and coffee, and boarded our bus for the conference center. We started the day with opening remarks and a keynote speaker before heading to the separate classrooms to listen to conference presenters. We still needed to finalize some things for our presentation and practice, so our group decided to stay in the conference hall to work.
Before our presentation started, we had a tea break. We then headed up to our room, set up our presentation and waited for the start time. To our surprise, we had standing-room only in our room. Our Changemaking project was a huge success and really drew people together. Our aim to collaborate on social/emotional learning methods for helping students transition from school to vocation was very popular and to us, felt worthwhile and valuable.
One of my favorite parts of the presentation was when we greeted the group with the traditional Tanzanian "Jambo" song. We learned it from Laurent, our safari guide, as the song that young children learn in Tanzania. It goes:
Jambo bwana Hello Mister
Habari gani How are you?
Nzuri sana I am very good
Mnakaribishwa You are welcome
Tanzania yetu Our Tanzania
Hakuna matata No Worries
We had a very successful day and were extremely proud of ourselves for presenting research at our first International Conference on Special Education.
This post will be very short because Day 8 of our Tanzanian adventure was a very long travel day and not much happened.
The hotel we stayed at in Moshi was a meeting spot for many people attending the conference in Magamba. We were instructed to be ready to go at 7 o'clock in the morning. We did not end up leaving the hotel until closer to 9 o'clock because the bus drivers had to load everyone's luggage on top of the busses, which ended up taking much longer than expected. The drive was very long and extremely hot. When we finally reached our hotel, we were less than enthused. This is when we learned that when booking hotels in other countries, you need to specify, "two beds", rather than, "double" room. We ended up sharing a very small, damp bed (as Magamba/Lushoto are mountain towns that are very cold and humid during this time of year) that did not have a mosquito net. But we looked at each other and said, it's ok, we'll survive and at least we have running water!
We rushed to change our clothes and make it to the conference center for the opening ceremony. We were greeted by a student band outside and were given handmade bags with our conference timetables and notebooks inside. We entered the conference room and listened to more music, beautiful singing by a local choral group, and opening statements by government officials and conference heads.
Exhausted from our day, we headed back to the hotel to finalize our presentation notes and prepare ourselves for our presentation that would be happening the next afternoon.
Day 7 of our time in Tanzania began early in the morning after breakfast at Kudu Lodge. We first drove to the entrance of Lake Manyara, seeing a sign that said, "home to the tree climbing lions". We got out of the truck as we passed through the entrance and went on a walking tour through a collection of trees, which was the home to many lake-dwelling birds. Our guide through this walking tour was a young man who was in his internship as an official safari guide. He informed us that this was the first of his training procedures to becoming an official guide. He showed us the various trees including a tree that had leaves like sandpaper (sandpaper tree) and a tree with leaves soft like toilet paper (boabab tree). We got back in the truck and continued through the forest towards Lake Manyara. As we drove through the winding forest, we turned a corner and came upon a lone elephant noshing on leaves, which was very calming to watch. We then came to the lake and saw a number of water birds including pelicans and flamingos.
After the lake, we started our drive to a new hotel in Moshi. Along the way, we stopped at a Masai village. The Masai welcomed us warmly by dressing us in their traditional clothing and jewelry and performing their welcoming dance for us. We were able to join in on the dance at a certain point. We had to jump as high as possible three times and land on our feet as hard as we could. According to the leader of the dances, I won the jumping competition as I was able to jump the highest! We took a tour through the mud houses and then to the kindergarten school before heading to Moshi.
When we got to Moshi, we quickly dropped our bags and cleaned up before dinner. Laurent, our safari guide, picked us up and brought us to his mother's house for a traditional Tanzanian dinner. As is custom in the culture, we ate outside and did not enter the house, as homes are private spaces. Although we had eaten similar food throughout the entirety of our journey, this was the best Tanzanian food I had even tasted. You really could taste the love that was poured into the food.
We went back to our hotel, packed up our belongings, and prepared for our journey to Magamba the next day.
We began our safari day two at 5 o'clock in the morning eating our breakfast boxes on the drive to the Ngorongoro Crater. Laurent wanted us to arrive to the crater early enough to potentially see the animals around a watering hole. Although we did not make it in time because of an unforeseen scheduling error, we did not mind. We drove along a winding road for about 20 minutes until we came to a bit of a clearing where we saw the most beautiful flat-topped acacia trees. As we kept driving, we came to the opening of the crater, seeing many water buffalo amidst the fog, which was a surreal sight.
The crater is home to a number of animals including zebra, impala, water buffalo, rhinos, wildebeests, hippos, hyenas, and many different kinds of birds. We were able to see all of the "Big 5" animals (leopards, elephants, water buffalos, rhinos, and lions) except for the rhinos. I do believe I saw a rhino through the binoculars, very far in the distance but I cannot count it because I am not entirely sure if I did see it. We took a tea break in the crater around 10 o'clock and then had lunch amongst the hippo pool later in the afternoon.
We came back to Kudu Lodge exhausted but fulfilled after our adventure in the Ngorongoro Crater. We ate a quick dinner and went back to the bar to continue working on our conference presentation. We then went back to our rooms to pack our bags, as we would be venturing from the Lake Manyara to Moshi, Tanzania the next day.
We were picked up by our Pristine safari tour guide, Laurent, very early in the morning. Although we were very sad to leave our friends (Mama Christina, Jared, and Jonas) at Christina House, we were all so excited to see the safari truck and be on our way to explore the Tarangire National Park. It took us about a 2 hours drive from Arusha. The roads to the park were perfectly paved, as if we were in the United States. I found out that this was due to the incredible amount of money that comes from the safaris. We first pulled up to the lunch spot where many other tourists were enjoying a break and enjoyed our own boxed lunches of fried chicken, cakes, and other yummy goodies.
After lunch, we were on our way. As we stood shoeless on our seats, poking our heads through the open roof of our truck, we came upon a small herd of zebras. Even though I have seen zebras at various zoos in the United States, it was still exciting to see one in its natural habitat. As we continued to drive, we came to a clearing and saw my favorite animals of all time - giraffes! I was disappointed, however, because just as we approached a giraffe, Laurent got a radio call and told us we had to go. He did not tell us where we were going but we knew something exciting was happening when we pulled up to a group of about 20 parked trucks. When we parked, Laurent handed us binoculars and told us that there was a leopard napping in a tree far off in the distance. It took us all about 10 minutes to finally locate the leopard - well, the leopard's arm actually. I was able to faintly capture the arm on my phone camera that was pressed against the view of the binoculars - a masterful MacGyver moment!
After a day full of seeing wonderful animals including elephants, wildebeests, and more, we headed to Kudu Lodge. We felt like royalty as we were greeted with mango juice and eucalyptus towels. We ended the evening with a lovely dinner and met up at the hotel bar to work on our presentation and talking points for the international conference on special education (IASE) that would be happening in a few days.
Madeline Campisano, M.Ed., Special Education
In this blog, I detail reflections I have had over my course of study for my Masters in Special Education. Included are readings, studies, personal anecdotes, and reflections from my journey to Tanzania.