Park Scholars Go Global

Park Scholars Go Global

Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.

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Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 11:17AM   |  Add a comment

By: Abby Sophir, Sophomore

After our three-week homestay in Bangata, I have compiled a list of 26 interesting, random, half-serious and likely useless observations, facts, and tidbits of advice. Perhaps they will come in handy in your future endeavors.

1. Doors and alarm clocks are overrated. Sheets of fabric and chickens do just fine.


2. Beware of potholes when playing soccer. Stuff shoes in the biggest one.

3. Family structure can be extremely confusing. The children running around the house, fetching water, and eating dinner with you, may or may not be your siblings.

4. Cooking chapati is an art. It's probably better not to get in Mama's way.

5. It's hard to beat waking up to a warm bucket-shower. Just be careful, the water may still be boiling.

6. Avoid offending people. It's very hard to apologize in a new language.

7. Walking is not an option when going down hills after a big rain. You will either run or slide.

8. Music must be listened to loud enough so that conversations are not possible. The day has not yet begun until the nyumba (house) is bumping with Gospel music.

9. On a similar note, gospel music videos are ridiculously catchy. For all you TV-R Parkies— Despite what we are told in class, there is (at least) one entire country that loves iMovie transitions. The more frequent and corny the better. 

10. Freshly milked cow milk in my cup of tea is not my cup of tea.

11. Two men holding hands is commonplace in Tanzanian. Homosexuality, however, is illegal. 

12. To make an an object a toy just put it on a stick. This includes but is certainly not limited to leaves, water bottles, Blue Band butter lids, etc.

13. Transcans are non-existent. Got wrappers? Boxes? Paper? Just throw it out the window into the yard.

14. There are 30 different types of bananas and they are extremely versatile. They can/will be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as main courses, desserts, or with tea. Bananas as we know them (called 'ndizi sukari') are miniature and ridiculously delicious. Also, banana tree is a main staple in cows diets.

15. Justin Bieber is everywhere. As are Chris Brown and Usher. 

16. If you spend an hour trying to hang a mosquito net, be certain it is hung the correct way or getting into an out of bed will require contortion.

17. Bangatans are amazing at remembering names. I am terrible.

18. Befriend a four year-old. Especially if you are going into a homestay not knowing the local language.

19. Nike got it right. Sometimes you've got to "Just Do It", even if you don't understand why you're being asked to eat a seventh chapati, wash your feet before school when you walk through a river, or taken an umbrella when it's hardly drizzling. (Just sure not to forget the umbrella at school...)

20. Bangatans are always "sorry" for each other— Working in the field, walking home from school, visiting a friend's house, and playing soccer are all valid reasons for people told "Pole" (Sorry).

21. A heaping bowl of 'chips' (aka greasy french fries) is a well-balanced meal.

22. Tanzanian/Kenyan mangoes are perhaps the most delicious fruit I have ever eaten. Just beware of the occasional one with bugs living inside.

23. If you give a kid a pack of gum, the whole neighborhood will have a piece in a matter of minutes. If you give a kid a piece of chocolate, the whole neighborhood will gather around you in a matter of minutes.

24. HAND-WASHING CLOTHES FOR DUMMIES: 1. Wash with soap. Technique is key 2. Wash with clean water 3. Rinse again 4. Hang to dry INSIDE OUT

25. REVISED #24: Attempt to replicate what siblings are doing while Mama watches, mumbles something to under Mama, and laughs. Watch as she re-washes your clothes.

26. Be prepared for a four-hour church service. Even if there are empty benches you will sit shoulders touching, eight to a bench.

Here are some more photos to paint a better picture of the last three weeks in Bangata!

My home is the white one! Another student, Jake, stayed in the orange one next door. Our Babas (fathers) are brothers and Bibi (their mother) lives on the other side of our house. This is one of the rare moments when there aren't kids running around the 'complex'.

From right to left: Our house, Bibi's house, an unfinished home (another one of Baba's brother's) that serves as an optimal playground. The choo (bathroom) that we share is behind the unfinished home.
View of Mt. Meru from the choo.
The kitchen where Mama works her magic over a wood-burning stove, usually with a cell-phone in her mouth as a light.

My room!
The front yard.
Kayla and Jake on our walk to school.

River crossing on the way to school. 
If you look very closely you can see my home on Kivesi Hill in a small village called Ngiresi.  The photo was taken close to our school in Bangata. (To clarify, Ngiresi is part of Bangata)

My 3 year-old sister Glory, more commonly called 'Baby'.

My 10 year-old brother Erick, nicknamed 'Mba'.

Me, Baby, and Doli. Doli lives next door (she is one of Jake's homestay sisters) and had always got my back. She's awesome.

Doli, Baby, and Lilli, who also lives next door.

For class on Wednesday, we took a trip to Arusha (the closest city) to practice our Swahili at the Sokoni (market). We were given money to barter for the ingredients to make fruit salad, chai masala, and guacamole. The next day we cooked up a feast!

Emma and Addie showing off our fruit salad display, complete with fresh bananas, oranges, mangoes, pineapple and watermelon.

One of several waterfalls in Bangata.

I don't think I'll ever get used to how casually little kids carry around machetes here.
Climbing a cliff to get back to school.

All the girls at our end-of-homestay party. We were all given beautiful, custom-made Tanzanian dresses from our Mamas.

Top row from left to right: Mama Kabda (Jake's Mama), Festo (Jake's brother), Jake, Me, Mama Levis (my Mama!)
Bottom row: Levis (my 15 year-old brother), Babu (Jake's brother), Baby
** Jake's two sisters and brother, my younger brother, and both of our Baba's who work in Nairobi are missing from this picture**

Our amazing Swahili teachers with Tara.

Mia and I in our dresses! The cleanest we've been all trip.



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