On 11 June, five of our Year 12s set off for an amazing adventure. Here is the first update courtesy of Hannah:
Jambo from Tanzania. We all arrived safely after 24 hours of travel from Eltham to Heathrow to Addis Ababa then to Kilimanjaro airport and finally Arusha, where we will be staying for our time here. Having surveyed everyone there were mixed feelings about the food on the aeroplane. Whilst waiting for our money we met a Tanzanian man who claimed he was Tupac and performed a rap for us in Swahili. The journey here was long but so worth while when arriving to such a warm welcome at the school, everywhere we walked we heard ‘karibu’ which means welcome.
Our day began with a 6:30 start which is really 4:30 in England, breakfast at 7 followed by a lesson on rites of passage, where we looked at the differences between adults and children and how each differ. We then participated with students on a topic which was very difficult to approach for all of us – female and male circumcision. We learnt about why different cultures agree with this practice and how many young girls and boys are forced into the abusive act which has dangerous consequences. We debated on the reasons why young people might agree to it and why we don’t believe it to be right. Not everyone had the same thoughts and opinions as each other. We spoke to a survivor of FGM which inspired us all to be grateful for our human rights. She told us that peer pressure was a big factor in her decision to be circumcised. For her there were only two options; to do it or be isolated from her peers. This was important as we felt decision making today in Tanzania or Britain can be very much peer influenced.
Afterwards we travelled by school bus to a Maasi cultural museum where we learnt more about the culture, how the houses are built and how people genuinely live day to day lives. We walked around a snake pit where we got to see the different types of snakes, crocodiles and tortoises in their environments. We then had the pleasure of holding two beautiful snakes which some of us students loved, while some were reluctant to hold or go near them. After this we got to ride camels – the teachers were, at first, too scared but ended up going on as well.
We travelled back to the school where we recapped on what we had learned. We were able to go swimming in our free time before we had dinner. Our last activity was meeting the boarding sixth form students and participating in team building exercises where we got to come out of our comfort zones and get to know each other a bit better.