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Student Reflection: 2019 Tanzania Service Learning Program

- written by Sophia, Grade 11 student

In February 2019, 26 students a plane to Tanzania for an unforgettable week. Every student was carefully selected based on their motivation to help others and their strong personal skills.

They met every 2 weeks, early in the morning, to prepare for the journey under the guidance of the chaperones: Kim Vlasseman, Brian Goltz, Gordana Westmoreland and Janna Serniak. Preparation included everything from learning about geography, cultural sensitivity, safety and history to learning some Swahili. Much time was also dedicated to preparing for fundraisers and service activities on the ground in Tanzania.

As part of the service work, each student raised 250 euros, created a raffle basket and a Lion King movie night was organized, of which all the funds would go to projects in Tanzania. These funds were allocated towards helping complete a library at the Dinka school and towards further projects at underprivileged schools in Moshi.

In one week, American School of The Hague (ASH) team achieved a significant amount in Tanzania and every single student left having learnt a lot about Tanzania and themselves. Here is a brief explanation of the service work they did on the ground:
  • Construction work at a school in Moshi – Helped lay the foundation for 40 toilet blocks by transferring cement by hand to fill the foundation that had been dug and laying out 15kg bricks to help make the foundation sturdy; painted around 150 metal desk frames; sanded around 300 planks of wood for the desks.
  • Roots and Shoots – The Tanzanian team planted 630 trees at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro on a very steep slope that was hard not to slip down. They worked alongside locals who oversee the Roots and Shoots foundation in Tanzania and were able to learn a lot about what they do in Tanzania and why it is so crucial that these trees are planted.
  • DINKA school – They visited the DINKA school in Arusha, which has been built from the ground up by a Dutch lady, Kimberly who is from Wassenaar, and her husband who is Tanzanian. They donated several suitcases with donations which mainly consisted of teaching supplies such as books, athletic equipment, stuffed animals for the children who board there, and more. The team also got the opportunity for the first time ever to teach a lesson at the school, a math game which would be left there for the kids to continue playing and some arts and crafts. The ASH students along with the DINKA students had a lovely time and laughter filled the air. It was inspiring to see how much just 2 people were able to build together and the impact they had made on their students.
The team surely left an imprint on the local Tanzanian schools and communities and equally they made an unforgettable impact on the team. They were challenged to reflect on their actions and motives in Tanzania and the way that their lives are in the Netherlands compared to those in Tanzania. They also reflected on what overwhelmed them and what they learned about others, the culture in Tanzania along with the people there and the world.
University preparatory program for ages 3-18. Fully accredited by the Council of International Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

American School of The Hague