Welcome all, my name is Martina Madubuko. I study Behavioral and Community Health at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am super excited to be taking you all on my journey navigating through the lifestyle of Public Health, in Arusha Tanzania, which seems to be a new world. Arusha, Tanzania; a land of the Masai and Momelan people. I have called this country home now for about two weeks. The people here are warm, their smiles radiate and are naturally infectious.
The beauty of the land is the rarest kind, fresh, and crisp. I’ve taken in the dust road air of the rural town, along with the potent jasmine flowers, and the fresh green land of city life. Residents of Arusha smile through it all. My host will often chant “Hakuna Matata” meaning have no worries. Or my personal favorite, “pole, pole” meaning slow down. It’s become a new mantra for whenever I find myself throwing an absolute fit at issues like WiFi connection. Patience is a virtue I’ll be sure to adapt by the end of my trip. So far, the hardest adjustment through my transition has been the language barrier.
At first glance, the locals associate with me. They gather a resemblance to my Nigerian features, the full lips, and caramel skin. However, once I utter a lick of Swahili with my foreign American accent, it’s quite clear that I am different. That difference is quickly seen as an opportunity, and one of financial gains. Between a ride into town and purchasing beaded jewelry, I cannot help but feel as if I’m seen as revenue. Soon enough I’ll be sure to master my bargaining skills and fit right in with the locals. Coming from the U.S. where just about everything consumable is standardized, it’s been the hardest adjustment.
The one commonality that I am eternally grateful for is the Catholic Church. Growing up, I was always taught that their doctrines remained the same universally. It’s been the greatest relief to personally confirm this standard. Although I have yet to find a mass where the entirety of the church service is not in Swahili, the familiarity of mass flow is constant. That consistency truly gives me a sense of home. Initially, I expected things to be different. I understood that there would be huge discrepancies from my first-world citizenship privileges. Slight changes like having to turn on the hot water manually, brushing my teeth with bottled water, and sitting in the dark if the construction workers hit a pipeline, all have forced me to come face to face with my first-world citizenship privilege. However, the most useful advice I’ve received before embarking on this journey was to stop every once and a while and take it all in. I’ve got a while to go, and this journey surely won’t be easy, but I choose to embrace the entirety of Tanzania and all it has to offer.