Through a partnership with Experiment in International Living (EIL), Match More sent five high school students to five different countries. One of those students was Sade Rosa, a senior at Match High School.
When she was initially applying to EIL, Sade was hoping to travel to Costa Rica, Mexico, or Italy, a place where she might be able to practice her burgeoning Spanish skills. But, Tanzania provided an opportunity to explore her interests in bio-diversity and food culture. Sade is currently applying to host of colleges in the Massachusetts area and plans to major in one of the sciences.
In Tanzania, she was delighted by the diverse and unique plant life on Mount Kilimanjaro. “The trees were over 60 feet tall and there were all kinds of monkeys and birds that I had never seen before,” Sade said with a blossoming smile. With her team of eleven other program participants and a group leader, Sade also visited the Ngorongoro Crater, taking a safari down to the center of it where they witnessed hippos lounging and even an ostrich fight. The animals kept their distance from the truck, so Sade wasn’t frightened and just enjoyed observing the animals in their natural habitat.
When she wasn’t exploring the terrain, Sade was getting acclimated to village life and learning the customs. “It’s so important that you do everything with the right hand,” she said with a look of someone who had learned this lesson the hard way, “It’s disrespectful if you greet or do anything with the left hand. You have to make sure to always reach with the right.”
She lived with a host family and her host mother was the supplier of the intimate village. The neighbors would come to their home to pump water and buy other necessities, so Sade and her host family had to rise early to chop sugar cane, feed the cows, and get the eggs from the chickens in preparation for the visitors.
Sade’s day began around five am. After chores, she would eat breakfast and have a Swahili lesson. Then, she and her team would explore before lunch. After lunch, there was another two-hour Swahili lesson and more exploration before dinner. One of these exploration led them to a meeting with the machame people, a nomadic tribe in Tanzania.
Sade was very surprised by how well received the Americans were in Tanzania. “You always hear that people don’t like Americans because we’re materialistic and all that stuff, but they didn’t have any preconceived notions about us. It was just like, we were family.”
The intimacy of the community helped foster the familial feelings. She was within walking distance of everything and everyone (although it was more walking than she was used to - “There was no public transportation, you had to walk everywhere and be careful because there were animals out there too”). If she needed to find one of her trip mates, word of mouth would help her locate that person quickly.
Then there were the family meals where ugali, a porridge made from cornmeal, was often a featured component. While the ugali took some getting used to (“It takes the taste of whatever it is in, so if that thing doesn’t have the best flavor, then it’s just...not good.”), Sade enjoyed eating with her family. “Sometimes, we sat around the table, but often, we ate in front of the tv, just like at home.”
This past summer was Sade’s first time out of the country. “I was so sheltered; I’m an only child, so it was a lot for me,” Sade recalls. But she believes that it was an important experience and others should have a similar experience. What kinds of students would benefit from an experience like this? “You have to want it,” she replied, “You can be nervous, but you have to want to know more about the world and take risks.”
When asked where she would like to travel next given the opportunity, Sade’s eyes lit up and she quickly replied, “I want to go back to Africa, to a different country. It’s a cool place.”
Thank you for sharing your story, Sade.