My time in Zanzibar was a complete whirlwind! Every single day was an adventure. From driving to the school each day to touring the island on our days off, I feel I truly made the most of my time there. While the reason for my trip to Zanzibar was to do research for my Master’s program, the highlight was working with the students of Unguja Ukuu and watching their English improve drastically in my short time working with them. There were, of course, a number of challenges including having days where we had issues with the car or there were days where no students showed up to class however, we always managed to figure it out! At times we had to be extremely resourceful and at other times we had to just be patient, but somehow, someway, everything always worked out.
The best part of working with the English Safari Club and Zanzibar Learning for Life Foundation was the friends I made while I was there. For the first part of my stay, my co-teachers Anna and Rosie were absolutely amazing to work with, live with and just be around! They were always up for a new adventure and we found that we could not only have fun together but depend on each other no matter what happened. For the latter part of my stay, my co-teacher Vicky and I bonded very quickly and were pretty much attached at the hip. We went everywhere together; she would even accompany me into the villages as I did my research just because she could. Most important to me where the locals who we worked with and hung out with that truly made the experience amazing. On my first day I was invited out by Gasica, with his family, for Eid celebrations because he didn’t want me to be alone. During my first weekend, we were invited out on a beach cleanup where we met so many people and became fast friends with some of the people whom we would later work with, or friends we would call when we needed anything. The hospitality of the Zanzibar people was overwhelming and made the island truly feel like home.
During my time there, we had an English Immersion Camp, in which we took the top 30 standard 5 and 6 students to a hotel in Kizimkazi for a weekend to help them improve their English and prepare for their exams. While we had to scramble to get everything in order last minute and had a few hiccups along the way, the camp couldn’t be described as anything but a success! The students learned about many different subjects including greetings, food, planets, directions and math amongst others and even had a chance to use laptops which was a first for many of them. There was a great balance of learning English and having fun either in the pool or on the beach and by the end we were completely exhausted but very proud!
Leaving Zanzibar and the students of Unguja Ukuu was the hardest part of my entire trip. Though three months seems like a long time, I felt at that I was finally making progress with teaching English and getting comfortable working with the students and then it was time to leave. Though I wish I had longer I did start to miss a few things about home such as a warm shower and not having birds in my kitchen all the time. It definitely takes a certain type of personality to persevere through an experience like this but it’s also one of the most rewarding things you could possibly do. Even with all the unexpected challenges, this has been one of the best trips of my life and I would definitely like to go back in the future!