When I was 19 years old, I had the most amazing, life changing experience of my life. I lived and volunteered in Moshi, Tanzania for almost three months. Moshi is located just at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, and is a beautiful "middle class" community. I put middle class in quotations because it is completely different from what is considered American middle class. I made the decision to do this for a number of reasons, but the main reason was the encouragement of an incredible professor. Personally, I was officially assigned to work with a women's group of small business owners. It was a group that had made leaps and bounds before I had arrived, and I was able to spread my time to other organizations that really needed that extra help. So, I split my time mainly between an orphanage and an AIDS hospice. My first days were extremely emotionally draining, but I was in awe of their positive outlook on life. I left California believing that I was going to bring about some profound change, but I returned realizing that I was the one that had been profoundly changed.

I have lived what the general population would consider "privileged". I have had the opportunity prior to this to travel the world, but this was the most humbling, gratifying experience of my life. It made me realize what was important and how I wanted to live my life. These children and young men and women possessed a spirit that opened my eyes to the greater picture.

Specifically, our days were planned pretty loosely depending on your assignment. I was at one of my jobs by 9 am, and I would generally stay until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. At that point, I would return to the house where I lived with around 30 other volunteers. At night we would have Kiswahili lessons to help us communicate with the general community and at our job. The weekends were free, and most of the volunteers participated in sight-seeing and travel. Personally, I went on a safari at Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti, traveled to Zanzibar, and, most importantly, I went to Rwanda.

Living the same life, day-to-day, doing the same things, interacting with the same people, that can make an individual isolated for the outside world. I would recommend opening ones' world to the outside through volunteering abroad to anyone. Not only will you change the world of these people, but you will return a new person with a new outlook on life.

themanicmind themanicmind
22-25, F
Feb 23, 2009