Hello there!

Here’s a little update. I have been in Tanzania for about 3 weeks and it has been great. It has been crazy to reflect upon my prior trips to Uganda and compare them to my time here. If you are just now reading this blog for the first time here’s a quick little snippet of what my times in East Africa have consisted of:

1st trip (June 2013): My first trip to Uganda was in 2013 and was with my church & Hear the Cry. After begging my parents for over a year to go to Uganda they finally let me go for a two-week trip. The first week was spent helping to build a greenhouse at Bethany Village - the first place in Africa that I had fallen in love with. After that, my group of 11 moved up to Northern Uganda and helped with landscaping at Restore International.

SIDE NOTE: Despite receiving some backlash from that first trip and having people tell me that my two weeks wouldn’t make a difference, that first trip sparked a strong passion and has now set a new path for my long term goals and dreams. Although I understand the skepticism around short term trips and agree with many of the critiques, I am 100% behind traveling with a mindset to better understand the world and the people in it, in a humble way.

2nd trip (June - December 2014): After being leaving Uganda on my first trip and missing it to the point of tears every day, I took the initiative to plan an independent trip to Uganda for 6 months. My goals for this trip were to see if I actually loved this place the way my naive first-timer eyes thought (in hopes to see if I could live there long term) and to explore different fields to better understand my professional goals and how my skills would intersect with my passions. In those 6 months, I lived between Gulu and Kampala, volunteered for 3 organizations and traveled to all corners of Uganda to gain cultural knowledge. I learned so much about myself and my passions in those 6 months and left knowing East Africa would always be a part of my life.

3rd trip (September 2015): This trip came out of nowhere. After coming home from my long term stay, I was so doubtful that I would return to Uganda so quickly. After working the whole summer from 8 - 5 every weekday as a receptionists, my boyfriend told me that he would be going to his home country of Rwanda for 1 month at the end of summer. With a mind crowded with dreams, I immediately began looking at airline tickets and trying to maneuver a way to get enough money to accompany him and head back to Uganda. After saving up the whole year and putting special money aside for a trip back, I found the cheapest roundtrip ticket to Rwanda ($900 to Africa from the West coast is unheard of)! I used every line in my brain to pick apart my parents and convince them that I had a plan… which included a detailed spreadsheet of course. After a couple weeks I was off to go back for a quick visit for three weeks before I transferred to the University of Oregon. I was able to visit two countries and 5 cities (by bus) over the course of 3 weeks. It was so great to see my friends and strengthen relationships.

Now, I am in Tanzania!

4th trip (June - September 2016): I am here on behalf of the U.S. State Department, FULLY FUNDED, to intensively study Kiswahili in Tanzania for two months… and then i’ll be heading to Uganda for one month to visit my loved ones and have a month of rest.

So far, I have been here for about 3 weeks and have loved it.

Tanzania is very very similar to Uganda in terms of looks and feel but Tanzania definitely has better roads. Also, it is a lot colder here in Arusha because we are in the mountain regions and are farther from the equator. Overall, this trip has been very different because it is my first time actually studying abroad and is very very structured and focused. We have class from about 8:30am to 4pm almost every weekday and homework on top of that. It’s been a way different experience being in a completely different country and actually speaking the language but it has been something I love so much.

God has blessed me so much and continually affirmed my love for East Africa. I am so astounded by the ways in which He has brought me back here so often and for so many different reasons. I feel incredibly thankful to be studying a language here and moving steps closer towards my dreams.

Sorry about this fast little blog post and my “broken” English (Speaking and studying Swahili all the time has messed up my English)! I look forward to posting more on here as I better understand the daily flow and ways to access wifi. Thank you all for supporting me in all that I have been doing.

Kwa Heri (bye)!