Sunday, February 26, 2012

Final Projects

Our final projects are ready to post!  We showed some of them on our presentation night (February 16) but saved some to premiere on the blog.  Below you will find things in roughly the order in which we presented them at our public event with the new ones to follow.  We decided to lead with the revised version of our already-posted blog video about our day of water work at the primary school in Himo.  For the rest of the videos, we will start and end with a safari video.  Enjoy!

Himo from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Safari Experience from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Camp from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Workers from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Word Association from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Himo, TZ - Aqua Sun Filter Installation from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Water - Klachi from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Coffee from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Simon from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

School Video from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Safari from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Upcoming Event

Please join us at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 16, in the Soda Center on the Saint Mary's campus for the public presentation of some of our multimedia projects from our course.  Each team will show at least one project.  (The others will be posted on this blog after our presentation night.)  We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Some Excellent Pictures

We're getting requests for safari pictures, so we'll post a few, along with some others that are in a new display in Dante Hall on the SMC campus (come by and see it!).


These next shots are moments from our non-safari time in Tanzania.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Greetings from the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia! We are waiting for our next flight, which we just learned stops in Rome before going on to Washington, D.C. Fun! (Of course, we just sit on the plane for an hour in Rome, but still . . .)

We had a lovely night and morning in our safari lodge, then made a few stops as we headed into the Kilimanjaro airport. We got to see our friend Kenja one more time before we left and then we had the crazy luggage scramble that always accompanies these trips. It all worked out in the end.

We should warn you of a couple of things: 1) we are totally out of the loop on all news and pop culture, whether important or not, 2) we have no clean socks, 3) we need to readjust to U.S.-style bathrooms, and 4) we got so we felt very at home in Tanzania so -- even though we missed all of you and look forward to seeing you -- we expect to be pining for our African home at least for awhile. Thanks for your patience as we regain our footing at home . . .

p.s. To the Southwestern third graders: Don't worry! We are safe and we were safe the whole time that the buffaloes were outside our tents at Ngorongoro Crater. We think that every time the subject of camping comes up for the rest of our lives, we will always tell the story of that night. The camp, by the way, is called "Simba Camp," which might sound familiar to you. If you didn't already know, the word "simba" means lion in Swahili. On more Lion King vocabulary, "pumba" means warthog and "rafiki" means friend. Now you know some Swahili language! Maybe you should visit Tanzania too some day. You won't regret it . . .

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesse!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today is Jesse’s birthday! We are very pleased to be able to spend such a special day with such an impressive person in such an awesome place. We started our day at various pre-dawn hours as different ones of us awoke upon hearing the buffaloes munching grass at the edges of our tents. Some of us could see silhouettes of the animals from the bathhouse light while others just had to imagine their size. No one familiar with the park was alarmed but we, as newcomers, were having trouble avoiding freaking out. It turns out the park vets were right.

Two things we missed in our camp were the presence of hyenas in the early morning hours (chased off by the camp dogs, as usual, apparently) and the visit of some local elephants who regularly walk through the camp in the night to pursue water. We didn’t see or hear either (though we heard the dogs).

We did, however, rise early enough to catch a fabulous sunrise over the rim of the crater. We were the chilliest that we have been all trip, bundled up in every warm thing we own, but it was worth it to see the sky burn orange and blue until the big ball rose over the hilltops just past our camp. A range of different birds flitted all over and around us, including some huge storks.

We started our early drive down into the crater where we encountered a whole range of animals that we didn’t imagine would co-exist side by side in one place. There were zebras and wildebeests, warthogs and gazelles, hippos and flamingos, elephants and buffaloes, medium-sized cats of a few exotic varieties and – perhaps most thrilling of all – a few adult lions. Everyone seemed to be in perfect sync with everyone else out in the crater, with the exception of a few sinister-looking hyenas who seemed to be out for a fight, but who never started one when we were looking. Things were extremely pastoral and serene, but also overwhelming in their perfect simple harmony.

Today’s glitch was that one of our safari cars refused to restart after being turned off at a crossroads, leaving us as a spectacle that other safari vehicles photographed as they passed. It took awhile for our drivers to realize that the problem was the timing belt so we had to pile a little deeper in the two remaining cars to finish our drive and make our way back to camp. Once we were there, the vehicles returned to tow the disabled one out of the crater while we brought down our tents and ate lunch. Despite the automotive problem, the whole experience was exhilarating.

Our afternoon involved a short but lovely walk to Elephant Caves and Waterfalls, two features of a small but beautiful nature preserve just outside Ngorongoro. The caves are actually remnants of a larger cave that collapsed in an El NiƱo year. They are called Elephant Caves because elephants migrate through the area and actually eat the dirt of the area as a means of gaining iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorous. Pregnant elephants are especially drawn to the area, apparently using the earth there as a form of pre-natal vitamin. The waterfall is a long drop that is not flowing heavily at the moment though it is clearly spectacular when in its prime. In any case, the hike is a fascinating look at an entirely different ecosystem than those we’ve enjoyed over the last few days.

We settled in after our hike to our one “fancy” night of accommodations at a safari lodge that has the feel of a small resort. They furnished dinner for us, including birthday dessert for Jesse complete with a couple of happy songs sung in Swahili. We’re taking it easy tonight to prepare for our long trip home.

Once home we need to hole up for a few days in a computer lab on campus to finish our multimedia work. We will try to backfill photos and videos at that time. Also, we will finish our final projects (three for each team), some of which will be screened publicly on the Saint Mary’s campus on the evening of Wednesday, February 8.

We will be traveling for the next couple of days so we will likely disappear from this space for a bit. Watch for an update once we return to California. Thanks!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Return to Tarangire and on to Manyara Lake

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More great experiences but still no electricity. Matt has bounced back and is normal again! Lily dropped into illness mode for a brief period as did Ciara, but both of them have bounced back too. Motion sickness from the bumpy rides might have figured into one or both of our last two bouts.

As for our safari, we are thrilled. Add a leopard, tons of baboons and other monkeys, a hyena and hippos to our list and then be prepared to see LOTS of pictures later.

Tonight we are perched on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater in a heavenly campsite whose only downside is a herd of roaming buffaloes. We hope they aren't interested in us and our air mattresses. We'll let you know tomorrow.

Gotta go.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tarangire Love

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Our safari is great but we are in a camp with no electricity so we don’t want to use too much power to post. Got away in plenty of time to make our safari. One glitch: Matt is now our newest patient. He seems to be turning the corner on the sickness thing but it is terribly unpleasant to spend a safari with a bucket in your lap. Hopefully he will be back to normal tomorrow.

Tarangire is awe-inspiring. We saw zebras before we even entered the gate, monkeys in the parking lot, then giraffes, elephants, lions, warthogs, waterbucks, bushbucks, dikdiks and beautiful birds. We even saw a mongoose. A MONGOOSE!!!

We got hot and dusty but we were oohing and ahhing so madly that we barely noticed. Loving the safari. Loving it. Gotta go.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Marangu Farewell

Untitled from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, January 20, 2012

No buckets in the night, as everyone has recovered from our recent bouts of illness. We got up early today to go visit a secondary school in the village in which we have been working. The idea to visit the school came up in our very first meeting with village leaders and has been discussed regularly ever since that day. Finally, we made arrangements to go there today.

The SMC students were mildly freaking out going in because Jesse and Shawny had made plans with the headmaster to have them teach classes in pairs. No one was totally confident about lesson plans and everyone was unsure about how we would be received in general.

Two of the girls from the school (called Salcayo Mosha) came to meet us at camp to walk us through a series of shortcuts (through cornfields, over rivers, and, of course UP HILLS!). We showed up a bit winded and sweaty but the sight of the eager teenagers who were jazzed about our arrival helped us recover quickly.

We were marched onto a stage in front of all of the students where we each introduced ourselves and gave a short greeting. Then we met briefly with the teachers over tea until we headed off to our paired teaching assignments. Each pair had different plans, most of which involved icebreakers and then questions and answers about the U.S. education system vs. the Tanzania one. Some involved songs or dances. No matter what plans we made, each class responded totally differently.

Some students were shy and quiet, hesitant to speak up for any reason. Others were bouncing off the walls to ask questions about U.S. American history, about boyfriends and girlfriends, about our impressions of Tanzania, and more. No matter what we planned or what the climate of each class was, things turned out great! We each had great experiences, even if all of the experiences were totally different. When the bell rang to start recess, we were all abuzz with stories from inside our individual classrooms.

We then did a series of photo ops and learned about the school’s needs going into the future. Clearly, the headmaster and the rest of the staff hope that we will return to work on a project with them. Who knows . . . ?

We went home for lunch and packed a few things before heading back down to the fence site (our last time on that LONG walk) for “closing ceremonies” with the villagers, the local Rotary Club reps (including Simon), and some local political figures. There was much welcoming, thanking, and praising, as well as a number of invitations (from all directions) to see each other again. We said goodbye to many of our local friends, then headed out to walk the shortest possible shortcut (still about a 20 minute hill walk) for our final time this trip.

We packed some more then headed off to the local Council member’s (Stanley’s) house to enjoy one of the greatest homecooked meals that any of us might ever eat. His family welcomed us into their home and provided an incredible feast of banana soup, pork, rice, beans, spinach, sauce, handmade chapati (bread), and loads of fruit, tea, and coffee. It was heavenly.

We also got to meet Stanley’s lovely daughter, whose name is Happiness (Happy for short). She is 17 years old and wiser and more poised than most of us. She is a great conversationalist and a brilliant student who will go very far. We hope to see her in the United States someday, especially if she finds a way to attend a university there. We hope so.

We said goodbye to Stanley's family and to our dear friend Wilson, who has been with us almost every day since we arrived. Other than Juma and Kenja, Wilson is our most constant companion. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs helped us make our break from him and the rest.

We then came home for the big packing push, as we are awakening at 5:00 a.m. to prepare to leave for our safari. We won’t take all of our goods with us so we have to sort through what we are taking and what we are leaving until we reconnect with the “left behind” bags at the airport. As none of us is terribly experienced at assessing safari needs (though three of us have been on them before), we are having trouble figuring out which stuff belongs in which pile.

On our four-day safari, we are camping for two nights in our tents and then staying in a lodge the night before we fly back to the U.S. Our trip will take 35 hours of travel time so we thought we might benefit from a good rest before we begin.

We are about to shut down for the night over here, as 5:00 a.m. is not very far away. The vets of the recent Haiti trips will be glad to hear that the power went out right in the middle of our biggest packing frenzy. Headlamps were, of course, at the ready.

Here’s hoping we can post from the wild over the next few days . . . !

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moshi Town!

Untitled from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Well, as predicted, we had another brush with illness in the night.  This time Darcy was the one who got overtaken, with Lily, Trevor and Shawny serving as the middle-of-the-night support team.  Darcy’s illness came and went as dramatically and as quickly as Trevor’s, but we are still being cautious as we watch them recover and as we attempt to protect the rest of the group from suffering their same fate.  We still can’t pinpoint a source for the bug that these two encountered, so it’s a little hard to play defense on this one. 

Despite their recent experiences, Trevor and Darcy both chose to join the group in its excursion to Moshi Town today.  We were mostly pursuing souvenirs (for some of you, no doubt?) but we also liked the change of pace and the very literal change of climate that we got to experience. 

Moshi is a hopping town full of traffic, unlike our lovely village of Marangu.  And it is HOT there, much moreso than where we have spent our time.  We headed into a small artists’ enclave just on the outskirts of town and saw lovely carvings, batik textiles, original paintings, jewelry, and lots of other fun stuff.  We got to haggle with the vendors in both US dollars and Tanzanian shillings, which turned out to be pretty fun. 

Lily is really good at haggling and Trevor is merciless.  Erin might have been a pushover, but Jesse convinced her otherwise.  Kyle got a piece that he really loves and Josh got a birthday gift for a family member.  Amelia showed great restraint but still got some beautiful things and Hilary struggled to find just the right gift for her parents.  Zoe stood firm on the amount of money she had to spend and the vendors buckled under her steadfastness.  Claire and Ciara made their selections pretty quickly, as did Alec.  Darcy kept in motion, despite the sleepless night that she suffered.  Matt locked in a friendship with the artist farthest down the line of the enclave while Dennis walked away from an item he liked knowing that the price was not going to come to the point that he hoped.  Gabe and Scott were pretty low key through the whole arts experience, but they both had a blast anyway.

From there we joined Simon for lunch at a cooperative that served pizza and coffee.  It is clearly a popular site for visiting Europeans and U.S. Americans so we added our numbers to the clientele today and loved every minute of it.  We hustled from there to another souvenir shop nearby and then stopped at a grocery for some favorite items to bring home. 

Once back at camp, we had to put some thought into our lesson plans for tomorrow, as we are visiting a local secondary school and we have been asked to teach something to the kids while we are there.  We’ll let you know after the experience whether the decisions we made tonight were good ones or bad ones. 

We have a lot of organizing to do as we get ready to leave for our safari.  Friday is going to go by much too quickly and then we will bid our beloved Marangu farewell, at least for now.  We hope to post through our safari, so please stay with us!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fence Finished!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We had our first bout with illness in the night, as our construction lead on yesterday’s water purification installation, Trevor, found himself overtaken by some violent form of stomach problem.  He had quite a rough night with cleanup and psychological support from Dennis, Alec, and Shawny.  He is recovering nicely today but we kept him off the worksite anyway to make sure that he gets back to 100% as quickly as possible.  Our past experience in these situations tells us that often when one person falls sick, others sometimes follow closely behind.  We won’t be surprised if we have a few more incidences of illness before we leave, as we all expected to experience some form of major physical discomfort while we were here.  Cross your fingers for us, parents!

Apart from our nighttime drama (which included a visit from the mongoose!), our main priority of the day was to get as far as we could on the fence project.  Based on what the villagers here in Mshiri accomplished while we were in Himo yesterday, it actually seemed possible to get the entire fence stretched today.  We went down to the worksite and turned into a fence-installation machine!  We were moving so fast around the perimeter of the site that we soon realized we were going to run out of materials.  Luckily we remembered that Simon had ordered extra fence materials for his own farm and that they were stored right by our camp.  We made a quick call and Jesse convinced the camp owner to let him drive the extra materials down in the Hilux truck. 

With those last materials on hand, we accomplished the impossible: we actually finished the job early!  For all of you Jan Term travel veterans out there, we know you can’t believe that we are saying these words but they are true: we finished our job!  Early!  We actually finished three jobs (the fence, the water purification system, and the school restoration) in record time.  We even had some downtime that we didn’t expect.  We had scheduled two more days for the fence project, but now we can make a quick trip down to Moshi tomorrow, then do “closing ceremonies” with our various hosts on Friday. 

We then need to make the mad push to strike our camp here so that we can pack it up and take it with us on our safari!  We expect to be able to keep up the blog from the safari, so don’t worry.  Of course, we will also report on these last few days in Marangu so that you can all get the scoop on our farewells from our beloved African home. 

Before we sign off today, though, we must answer some questions from the Happy Hollow sixth graders.  Here they are:

1.     Are you using brushes and rollers for painting?  Yes, we used big oversized rollers and four different sizes of brushes.  If we get those videos posted, you will get to see.  We also used kind of unusual round paint trays that helped contribute to a few more spills than we might have made with more familiar materials.

2.     From Jason H.: How are the local schools funded?  Who has to come up with the money for a teacher?   Great questions.  There are public schools and private schools here, just like in the U.S. The public schools still have fees that are similar to private schools, but they are much lower than private school fees.  Many private schools are sponsored by churches, including the Catholic Church that sponsors the school we painted.  Thus, in the case of “our” schoolhouse, the Church will need to pay a teacher to reopen it.  

3.     From Ben S.: Will you be bringing souvenir machetes back?  Ah!  Ben knows our history!  He must have heard that we brought 45 machetes back (in one checked bag!) from our trip to Haiti in the summer of 2010.  As for souvenirs from here, we have heard several people express interest in machetes so our trip to Moshi tomorrow might be the time for people to make some decisions about whether their family members would prefer to receive machetes as gifts or carved wooden giraffes.  We can’t spoil the surprise for our families and friends so we can’t even tell you what people decide after tomorrow!   Maybe you will see some clues in the pictures and videos. 

4.     From Jason and Heaven: What was airport security like in Africa?  We only boarded one plane in Africa and that was in Ethiopia.  We had already gone through the main security check before we left the U.S. so it wasn’t really any different than what we are used to experiencing.  One BIG difference, though, was that they actually weighed each individual carry-on bag and almost charged us for any that weighed more than 15 pounds.  LOTS of ours weighed more than 15 pounds.  We had to do some fast-talking in the airport to get out of huge charges and we will have to pack our carry-ons more carefully as we return to the U.S. 

5.     What is the most interesting new food you have had?  Hmmm.  The food is very different here from what we eat in the U.S., but not because we are eating totally different items.  The differences are more based in the ways that things are combined.  For example, we had a GREAT stew that revolved around two ingredients that we don’t necessarily think of as compatible: beef and bananas.  Also, there is a very simple bread here called chapati that we love.  We have two cooks named Juma and Kenja and everything they make for us is fabulous.  Lucky us!

6.     We are very impressed with the amount of work you do each day.  How bad are the blisters?  What do you do about sore muscles?   Very perceptive, Happy Hollow!  You have identified two of our most common maladies: blisters and sore muscles (add in sunburn and scratches and you’ve got them all!).  We almost always wear work gloves to reduce blisters on our hands but we still get a few.  Because we are walking SO much more than usual, we also have blisters on our feet.  We use lots of tape on the blisters to help protect our hands and feet.  As for sore muscles, if you were here you would hear lots of bartering for massages going on.  A few of us are actually really big on stretching too, so those folks help the others remember to stretch as well.  And to be honest, we are also going through a huge bottle of ibuprofen pretty quickly.  We think it’s all worth it.

7.     Can you Skype from there?  We want to try to talk to you.  We have turned on Skype a couple of times but because of the vast time difference between us and the U.S., we rarely find people on the line.  When we saw this note from you, we checked to see if your teacher was logged on, but she wasn’t.  Maybe from the safari we will have an early enough return to catch you in your classroom and tell you about our day (and hear about yours!).  Let’s hope!

8.     From Anthony: Do you have any questions about us?  We do!  In the letters you wrote us, how did you find such perfect quotes to match our situation in Africa when we hadn’t even gotten here yet?  (We know that you wrote your notes before Christmas break!)  Also, have any of you ever been to Africa?  Do any of you hope to go to Africa some day?  What are the most beautiful places that you have ever visited? 

Keep those questions coming, Happy Hollow!  (And Southwestern!)

Boy walking home from school during our work day

Epic shot of Josh

Getting down and dirty at work

Local school boy

Everyone working together on the last day of fencing


Our ride home from work today

Securing the chainlink

Wiring the fence

Alec as a human ladder