Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thank You

When my photography teacher introduced the National Geographic Student Expedition trip to our class none of the student paid mind to it. All they said was no, it is to expensive. But then she said we can get a full paid scholarship to go. I jumped on that opportunity as soon as she mentioned it.I told myself just to take time and fill out the applications. I mean it doesn't hurt just to try. Don't get me wrong I didn't get my hopes us just in case I didn't get the scholarship I wouldn't be disappointed. I didn't hear from the results in quite a while so I put the trip behind me. Until one day in class my teacher gave us the lesson for the day and added a little something extra "Oh one more thing Betty is going to Africa. You got the scholarship!" It took me a while to figure out it was me Betty who she was talking about. I didn't know what to say and what to expect. The months to come were all about preparing for the most life changing experience ever. Ill admit I was scared going to a different continent with complete strangers. But I want to take the time to thank everyone who made this trip one I would never forget. Thanks to all the students who were part of this trip. You were all very friendly and fun to be around. Yall did the silliest things sometimes. And you all encouraged me to overcome my fear and spider climb the mountain. I am truly going to miss all of you, and thank you all for making this trip 10 times more fun than what i expected. I wish you all the best. I also want to thank the teachers and the leaders. Without them all the kids would be lost. Thank you for keeping us safe and looking out for us. Im sure we were a handful but you all love us. I want to also thank a very special family. Thank you for reaching out and offering to help me. My mom cried so much that day. She wishes you all the best and sends you all many blessings. I really cannot thank you enough for everything that you have done! I will always keep you all in my prayers. Last but not least I would like to thank National Geographic for the scholarship. This trip was amazing. There is no words to describe what I saw, what I heard, the smells, the sunset and sunrise. It was all so beautiful. I will carry those memories with me forever. This trip changed the way I view life. I learned to appreciate everything I have. I value my family, especially my mom now more than ever. I cant describe how much I have grown and learned. Thank you all for this wonderful unforgettable trip ever!!


We got to the UAACC and a new adventure begins. It was so hard to say goodbye once again to people we have come close to, Killerai and Simon. As soon as we walked in I felt welcomed by Pete and by all the kids there. They loved playing with us, singing and talking with us. We got settled in our rooms. I bunked with Lexi, Sarah, and Claire. Our rooms were the best rooms so far out of the trip. We had our own restroom and shower. We did not have to share with 20 people. The beds were so comfortable I didn't have to use my sleeping mat. That night we met Pete and let me tell you he is a character. He is so funny and has a great personality. Pete is a formal black panther along with his wife Charlotte. They fled the country I think 40 years ago Im not sure. They are amazing people. Pete story really changed my point of view of the black panthers. I thought they were just a group of african americans angry at the white community. But that is not the case. They helped people through tough times many times. Pete and Charlotte are a perfect example of that. What they are doing in Tanzania is a blessing. They feed thousands a day and put clothe on thousands of people. They provide homes and further education for many children with talent. Pete goes shopping everyday to feed hungry people and Charlotte teaches art and goes on the road to give speeches. I admire every step they have taken to help others. They are by far the most interesting people I have met in my life. 

My stay at the UAACC was so much fun. I felt more at home for some reason. Maybe because I was connected to home more often. I called my mom and siblings which was very emotional for me I admit it I cried! I left a voicemail and I cried how funny is that. I couldn't even finish it Mrs.Hartman had to finish the voicemail for me how embarrassing it that?  My favorite, wait I loved every second of UAACC. The food was the best food I have tasted in Tanzania, no offense Mama Killerai , G was our cook. If he was in America he would have his own show on the food network, no joke. A group of traditional dancers were there to teach us a neat little dance. It was so much fun listening to ourselves trying to pronounce the chants. The dance involved so much hip shaking and a little of salsa movements which was easy for me. The other girls had a little trouble at first which was also fun to watch. But they all got a hang of it and did great. In return we had to teach them a dance to. So we chose the Cupid Shuffle and they loved it. It was easy to sing and what you sing is what you do. We had so much fun, and we were ready to show it off. Later that day after lunch it was show time. The dancers went first, they performed a few dances.I couldn't keep my eyes off of them I was afraid I was going to miss something. Soon our moment came and we got up there and did our thing. The girls wrapped fabric around the hips and the guys wore crowns. We were all pretty nervous we did not want to make a fool out of ourselves. But we had fun doing it and the dance turned out well. Then it was their turn to perform the song we taught them. And being the great dancers that they are they beast the dance. 

We were getting closer and closer to our last day which made me sadder and sadder. The last night in UAACC was a night I will never forget. We presented our OA projects and everyone did a fantastic job. When we were done with our projects the teachers and leaders kept telling us don't leave stay here. I was very confused. I was talking to Erin and all of a sudden I hear the babies singing. They came out in a line with a cake and were dancing and singing. We all felt very special that was the cutest surprise ever. The cake was not so bad either. After that we had a little dance with the students and some were painting with light. Travis was our dj for the night. He played a lot of my favorite songs. We were all getting down, acting silly, and having a blast. Sarah is the best dancer in the group, she just spaces out and does her thing it is sooo funny. Erin and Peter let loose that night they didn't worry about planning things for us they just had a great time as well. I asked Travis to put on some latin flavor for me at least one song and he did. He played Gasolina by Daddy Yankee. As soon as we all started dancing the most funniest thing happened. One of the students ran up next to me and said " I want to dance this song with a mexican" I just started laughing it was so funny! I had a blast that night and made the most of my last night in Tanzania.

......cont...the last days of safari

After the crater everything was chill at safari. Massimo viewed our photos which was so much fun and very helpful. I think I can speak for all of us that we are grateful and appreciate Massimo joining us and helping better ourselves in our photography. The following morning there was no rush to get up no rush to eat breakfast we had a relaxing morning. We were going to head back to Arusha to the UAACC. But on our way we were going shopping. The perfect day to spend the rest of my money well most of it. The first time it was to overwhelming and I was not prepared. Maasai market here we come! I bought about 20 bracelets the best I have done. Mrs.Bottoms and I joked around saying we were going to open up our own little store back at home and shout out "Sista Sista bracelet for you?". Im actually considering it sounds like fun, hmm.? Anyway we headed back on the road. Looking out from the man truck I realized how much I will miss it here. Arusha is so full of life and everyone is out working singing kids are playing going to school. It just so different from home but it is a good different. It is very difficult to describe it you just have to be there to know what I am talking about. 



Safari was so much fun. I never thought I would have an opportunity like this any other time. I did learn alot about poop during our four hour walk through the wild. We didnt see animals that day and if we did they were all far away. The mountain climb was incredible. I am so proud of myself and everyone else who got up there and reached the top. I am afraid of heights ill admit it. When we were close to the top at some point we had to literally rock climb up there I was crawling and holding on sooo tight to the rocks. I was amazed with Simon, Killerai, and Paolo because they climbed up there with tire shoes and they made it seemed so easy. We reached the hardest point which we nicknamed the spider man crawl. I was terrified but i knew there was no turning back I had to do it. I trusted Simon and Killerai, so i took the first step torward the tree limb. I followed the instructions carefully I DID NOT want to fall. I put my right leg up first reached my arms up to get a hold of the rocks beside me pushed my self up and put my left leg up for support and I started spider man crawling through the cave. At some point my right leg wasn't positioned correctly im guessing and slipped I screamed but i was safe because Simon and Paolo reached out and grabbed me (even though I wasn't up in the air anymore). I could hear everyone else behind me cheering me on and screaming out "Go Betty" and that really did help alot. I was motivated and had everyones support and I really think that is what made me strong enough to push myself into doing it. We kept hiking up the mountain I kept thinking to myself omg are we there yet, don't look down, and I cant believe I just did that. But we weren't far from the top. Let me tell you when we made it I was the most proud person ever, I think. I would have never hiked a mountain to the top, not at home not anywhere, because I didn't think I could do it. But the fact that I pushed myself into reaching the top and not turning around made me so proud. I think so far this is way cooler than any zebra out there. The way down was better than the way up. It was just soooo slippery everyone kept falling no one really got injured as bad as Sarah did. She sprained her ankle. But she put on a strong face and made it down the mountain. We all let her know that she can do it she can make it to the bottom. Killerai called the truck for Sarah and for us. It was not a very big truck we fit like sardines in the back. It was pretty tight and uncomfortable in there but overall I had a blast. The next couple of days we were confined in the man truck. We went to the national parks. At first we didn't see any animals but then we spotted an elephant and its family. It was amazing how they knew we were there cause they would just stand still as if they were fake. We were all busy taking pictures of the baby we didnt notice there was another elephant on the left side of the truck. We were all startled by the loud noise he made. It was so adorable but kind of scary because it was pretending to charge the truck it was cute though we actually wanted him to charge us. We saw plenty of animals that day zebras, leopard. wildabeast, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, baboons, and some birds. But NO LIONS! I was pretty dissapointed. I really wanted to see a lion on the safari and so far I think its been 4 days and still no lion. 

Until friday, at the crater. We had to wake up so early that day. We got separated into jeeps I was in a jeep with Massimo, Cade, Camryn, Mrs.Hartman, and Travis. We were a quiet jeep. The rim of the crater was freezing literally below 0 temperature the wind hurt the skin our fingers were to cold to release the shutter on the camera, but the view was worth it all. It is hard to describe how beautiful it was. When your there you take a minute just to soak it all in to enjoy it, aaannd than you run back to the jeep. In the crater we saw the usual animals except elephants and giraffes they don't usually go down there. We kept driving and driving still no really big excitement. Until we see a line of cars on the road traffic jam we thought but no we heard through the radio it was a lion eating a zebra. YESS! Finally a Simba. It took us years to get to the lion there were jeeps going from left to right, back to front if they could they would have jumped over each other it was crazy. We were all getting impatient but we took a breathe and waited. The wait was worth it because we got right in front of it. It was like watching a movie I mean the lion was enjoying its catch but at the same time watching his back because there were hainas trying to steal its food. The lion would pay no attention to us though it was like she enjoyed all the attention we were giving her. We sat there for  a while and than left for other people to enjoy. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

mimi mafrica wewe mzungu

Monday june14

i woke up early because my group and i had to make breakfast. It was Camryn, Cade and I. We made pancakes and egss like the day before. When we were finished cooking and eating we had to clean the pots and dishes we used.We used 3 buckets of water one to scrub them one to rinse and the other to also rinse. I really dont know how clean the dishes get but i dont really want to think about it. After cleaning up the mess we wade we got ready for our first day of work. We put our working shoes on and our gloves we got our shovels and pick axes ready and left. The walk to the begining was so far but we had soo much fun. All the little babies were running towards us. They were so happy to see us but yet so bashful. Some even walked us all the way to the work site. Some of the guys that live there offered to join and help us. The girls and I, at first looked silly trying to work like the guys did but we got a hold of it and mastered the pick axe and the shuvel well. Cade and Travis were working hard we had only been working for about fifteen minutes and they had gallons of sweat dripping down their forheads. The girls offcourse worked hard too. We had dirt everywhere from head to toes. (literally) We worked for until 12 I believe and headed back for lunch and our Swahili lesson #2. And here is what i learned.

-mtoto wakike-girl

-my father-babajangu



-mtoto wakiumbe-boy

-kuyo- yours

-Is this your son-mtoto huyuniwako?


-how old are you-una miaka mingapi

-get in-ingia ndane

-get out-toka nje


-to drink-kunyua

-to eat-kula

-to sleep-lala

-to play-cheza

-to walk-tembea
















After the Swahili lesson we went back to work. To everyones surprise the guys that were helping us had gone a long way. They almost got halfway to the road. These guys are working with sandals and no gloves and they make it seem like a peace of cake! We worked till about 5 and called it a day. Erin and Peter let us go out into Maji a Chai to explore and wonder off with our cams. We met guys our age that knew english well. We also met a young girl named Rose. She also knew english well. She explained that she would love to learn more english so she can teach her kids the language. We asked where she learned English and she said that she learned it when groups like us would come and they would spend time to teach her a couple of words. All the little babies were so excited to see us they loved the camera and loved taking pictures. Rachel brought out her soccer ball and had a little match going on. But them kids are beast at soccer I was afraid to step in the game. They had total control of the ball. It started getting dark so we all headed back home for dinner.

Tuesday June 15

Today was pretty much the same as yesterday for the first part of the day. We worked and accomplished soo much and had our Swahili lesson 3. By the time lunch came around my knees were giving out on me I was soooo tired! It took all my energy to pick up my arm to eat. Like yesterday we were to work until 5 BUT our lovely leaders had a surprise up their sleeves. We got to work an hour less! YAY!!! And it was because we had special cool Maasai drummers coming over for us and for dinner we were having students from UAACC joining us. So we hustled and worked extra hard for the remaining time we had. 4pm came along and we ran home to wash up and looked presentable for our guest. The drummer ladies were incredible. The way they danced was like nothing I have ever seen before it showed me the side of a different culture, and i love it! There was the main drummer lady which was my favorite. She was so cute and so little. But she played the drum well. And than there was one women with some sort of hair peace which to me looked like lion hair, and she also had a tail. Her costume was so far the best.  We had dinner a little early today because the UAACC students were coming over for dinner and they had to be back before 7. We were all so excited to meet them and they finally showed up. It was 6 of them, Ernest, Naima, Babu, Chams, and Digna. They were shy at first but after Camryn and Lexi showed them a couple of cheers they were loosened up. We got along well there was laughter, singing, and dancing at the dinner table. Ernest came out and started rapping for us and Sarah busted out with the stanky leg it was soooo funny. We enjoyed there company today. It was nice to get to know people our age and even nicer cause they knew english. I cant wait for there next visit.

Wednesday June 15

We had a busy day ahead of us today. We had our morning routine wake up eat breakfast and get ready. Today we went to the internet cafe to upload our blog but it was so fun getting there. They split us up into two groups. One half went with Peter the other half went with Erin. I was with Erin along with Camryn, Kyyle, Cade, Lyndsey, Kevin, and Mrs.Bottoms. Oh and Dominiqui tagged along. Well the first thing Erin tells us is " Don't make fun of my driving I just learned how to drive standard" well we didnt think she was being that serious and payed no mind to it really. One thing to know is that in Africa you drive on the other side of the rode there is no speed limit no stop lights and no stop signs. So anyway we get in the car and Erin has trouble starting up the jeep. So it took us a couple of tries but still no luck. We called Munissi over to take a look at the engine and im guessing everything is fine so they close the hood but it wouldnt stay down. So Erin has to  jump on top of the hood so it can close. She gets back in and she gives the key a turn and yay it works so she starts backing up and the jeep stalls, the jeep stalled a couple 8 runs before we get out the gate. 20 minutes later and we finally get out the gate and we scream for joy hahaha, and than the jeep stalls....again. It took a couple of more attempt to get the jeep going. I look over at Kyyle and Camryn and they are laughing sooo hard Kyyle has tears and Camryn is over there recording our litlle situation, and Cade pops out with a little smart remark " we are letting the cows pass", Dominiqui and I were telling Erin Polee Sana (im sorry) and Mrs.Bottoms is telling Erin how to drive you know refreshing her mind a little and finally we get the jeep going. We make it to the main road and as we are about to turn the jeep stalls in the middle of the street. We are in the back dying of laughter and Mrs.Bottoms and Erin are soo nervous trying to get the jeep going before a car hits us and finally success! We get going.......So in Africa people ride their bikes on the road and to let them know that a car is behind them they honk..... We are on the road doing good no stalling problems anymore you know we are steady moving letting people on bikes and other cars pass us (hint: Erin was driving slow) she picks up a little speed and there was a biker in front of us so she honks and the horn gets stuck! literally for about 30 seconds the horn is going off on the poor biker and Erin is banging on the steering wheel to make it stop and so is Mrs.Bottoms and we are steady laughing in the back and than it stops and Erin says the most funniest thing ever "So just in case you didnt notice, the Mzungus are here!" .... and we just cant stop laughing... we finally made it to the internet cafe and when we were about to pull in and park the jeep stalls and Mrs.Bottoms was like just let it roll in Erin we'll roll in the parking space, and we did.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


june 7
the day has arrived we have been preparing for months and its finally here!
i got up around 8 to take my last 30 min shower i ate my last "american" breakfast and sat to watch the first game of the FIFA CUP 2010 Mexico v.s. South Africa. we had to be at the airport by 12 but since i was watching the game i left home at 11:30 i still got there on time. my brothers and my mom walked me inside to meet the group.My mom gave me a blessing and left with tears in her eyes. I have never been away from my mom for more than a weekend, so 3 weeks is pretty intense.

+& about 22 hours of traveling later.....

i have never been on an airplane and each flight was about 8 hours long! everyone was very supportive so that calmed my nerves. the first flight was not that great i had seat 44J meaning it was on the last row middle seat, i am 5'8" i need room to spread my extremely long legs. but i guess i was okay i sat next to some cool ppl lindsey and jacob. i did not sleep at all during the flight lindsey on the other hand slept like a baby. though i should have slept during the flight because when we arrived in Amsterdam at around 8 in the morning i felt horrible i had the worst headache ever but i tried to enjoy the 4 hour layway we had. the gift shop at the airport had some very strange things. they sold fish and big chunks of cheese. but the thing about Amsterdam that i loved the most was the toilet paper, it was ORANGE!!

i absolutly loved the second flight. it went so much smoother than the first one i had an isle seat and i slept through the whole flight i promise as soon as the plane took off i fell asleep and when i woke up we only had 3 hours left what a way to kill a 9 hour flight! i tried watching Avatar but that movie put me right back to sleep so i was really only awake for the last 30 minutes so that made me more and more anxious knowing ill be in Africa in just 30 minutes. we finally arrived in Tanzania at 8 pm. The first thing we did was take a group welcoming picture. As soon as i got off the plane though you knew you werent in America anymore just by the way the air smelled and all the bugs and bats we saw at the airport. the bugs and bats freaked me out at first but i guess i forced my self to get used to them. i mean i am going to be spending 3 weeks with them right. We got through customs and got our luggage. we headed out to meet our leaders Peter and Aaron. they are truly very welcoming people. we all clicked with both of them right of the back. They took our big backpacks out to the the bus and they through them up at the driver who was on top of the bus so they can lay them out and tie them up, which i tought was pretty neat. Everyone was sooo excited just to get to where we were going to stay at. it was pretty dark so we couldnt see what Kilimengaro looked like so that build up the suspense. But we had a good time on the bus we sang some tunes.

Our home.
when we reach our home i was extremely surprised. I had not expected it to be as nice. the house has about 5 bedrooms. I am in the Embe room which i believe means mango. My roomies are Rachell, Lexi, and Camryn, our room is the biggest which is great because we all have alot of stuff. The restrooms are Co ed 3 bathrooms stalls, 3 shower stalls, and 2 sinks. the restrooms are soo much better than what i expected. they are regular similar to the ones from home which is nice. the first thing we did was set up the mosquito nets. it was quite a challenge because i have bottom bunk and the net does not rise at the end. after we were done we got our plates and headed out to dinner . our mamas cooked us pasta with sauce, chipatta which is a Tanzania breakfast kind of tortilla, and chicken. It was delicious. Aaron and Peter gave us a brief intro on how some things work in Tanzania and we headed off to bed.

that night...
it was soo hard to sleep at night since we are not used to the time change yet. i woke up 3 times. good thing Aaron and Peter let us sleep in until 7 and made the honors to make breakfast.
Sunday morning....
Sarah and Jacob helped make the eggs they turned out so good and Mrs.Bottoms and Mrs.Hartman helped with the pancakes. Breakfast was good aswell. So far the food is not bad. We all headed to our rooms and got ready for church. the girls wore our long pretty skirts and the boys were nice and clean looking in there button up shirts. before heading out peter and aaron taught us a couple of words Jumbo which means Hello and Jeana langu mimi, which means my name is.Our walk to church was long but i really enjoyed it. all the little babies were running towards us to see us. they call us mozungos which means white ppl. Every one is soo friendly they all greeted us and welcomed us to they town. the little kids are so curious they all walked with us and held our hands. i love that friends here hold hands while they are walking or having a conversation without anyone thinking its more than just friendship. There was so much to see on our way to church everywhere you turned your head there was a beautiful view. when we got to church we all sat in the front row. the older ladies were singing im guessing a praise song. after that a group of girls went up to sing and dance. the girls were all beautiful Tracy said they reminded her of Americas next top model. When they were done we had to sing back. we all got up in front of the church and sang our homes theme song. We left church early because Aaron says it runs for 3 hours. We came home and had our first Swahili lesson

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Karibu to Maji ya Chai

Okay so we are at this internet cafe to upload our blogs but our flash drives arent showing up on here. So i just want to let my friends and family know that i am okay. I am learning many new things and many new words. I love it here it is way more than what we expected it to be. We do have toilets and showers. The only thing is it is very cold. I love our leaders Peter and Aaron they are very helpful and they make sure we are safe. Our guards are the best Babu, Munissi, and Domique. The food is great so far. The people here are so friendly they always saying hello (Jumbo). Everyone has strong respect for the elderly every time you come across an older person you say Shikamu Mama or Shikamu Baba which means you are older than me i am below your feet i respect you. The children here love us they love for us to take pictures of them. They call us Muzungos which means white people. We also came across one older man who said this.."Americans are very peaceful people, sometimes missionaries come here but to colonize, but you are here to help. So now we are one, like the sun and one like God.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 3!! (still in Houston)

Its the final day in summer school and the last day the group will be together until the big day! I want to thank every single person who has made this trip possible for me! I wanna thank National Geographic for honoring me with the $10,000 scholarship, I would not even be sitting here if it wasn't for them! Also, I want to thank a very special family. They have really put every effort they had to make this trip more special for me. Well so long, I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day dos in Houston!

It's day two in Houston and we are still getting to know each other. Everyone seems nice and fun to be around, but im still very shy. We certainly all have one thing in common, we are all sooo excited for our trip to Tanzania on friday!!! 

Monday, June 7, 2010