So why Tanzania?
To be honest, I did not choose Tanzania. I like to think that it chose me. When applying for Peace Corps, there is a part of the application process where you select the country or countries that you would like to be considered for. You also choose the specific sector you would like to be involved in. After reflecting on my initial rejection, I realized that I had been holding myself back. I was so set on a few countries, each for their own reasons, that I did not give any other posts any consideration. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with desiring a certain country but rather, a volunteer must be flexible and willing to adapt to what is offered to them. I think getting rejected that first time was crucial in me finding my place and time in Peace Corps. Had I been accepted in the first round, I would have departed in September, giving me little time to spend with my family and friends post-grad as I have been able to now that I am leaving in February. The second time I applied, I selected to be placed any where I was best suited and that I favored a health or education position. It was then that I got put under consideration, and later invited, to be a Health Extension volunteer in Tanzania. So yeah, that’s how it happened and I am so excited to have the opportunity to serve there. Here are some cool facts about what will be my new home:
Location: East Africa bordered by Kenya, Uganda, D.R. Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. It is actually the largest country in East Africa! A beautiful island called Zanzibar located in the Indian Ocean is also a part of Tanzania.
Language: Swahili is the national language and the one I will be learning during training, but there are over 120 languages spoken in Tanzania.
Nature: Tanzania is home to the largest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro (over 19,000 feet above sea level)! The Serengeti National Park is also located in TZ, a favorite among tourists and home to the largest mammal migration in the whole world.
Major Cities: Dar es Salaam, Dodoma (the capital), Morogoro, Zanzibar City, Mwanza, Mbeya
People: The population of Tanzania is roughly 55.6 million people. There are over 130 tribes in TZ. Some of these tribes include the Maasai, the Sukuma, the Chagga, the Makonde, and the Hadzabe tribe.
Religion: A third of Tanzanians are Muslim, another third are Christian, and the rest identify with indigenous religions or no religion. Hinduism and Buddhism also have a small presence in Tanzania.
Currency: The Tanzanian Shilling. The current conversion rate is 2270 shillings per U.S. dollar.
Independence Day: December 9, 1961- Gained indépendance from Britain (actually one of the earliest independent countries in Africa)
Check out the following links to learn more about the culture of the Tanzanian people including their celebrations, customs, and way of life!