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Day 7: Goodbyes Are Never Easy

Closing out the homestay and community service project.

The Notre Dame Academy student group is headed out tomorrow morning to Ngorongoro crater to start a 3-day safari. The group has been rocking it on the worksite! They have worked so well together, and have showed a lot of personal motivation as well as teamwork. They’ve done a wonderful job bonding with the local carpenters and community members throughout the work project, and have really respected the local customs: for instance, paying due respect and honor to the elders of the Tanzanian community.

By request from the kids in the community, the students take to the fields in the afternoons for big games of net ball, frisbee, American football, fire on the mountain, and other crazy games. Hundreds of kids from the community come out to play!!

The homestays have been going really well, and the students have had a huge range of experiences. The more rustic homestays have definitely been a challenge for some, but we’re so proud of them, and they are proud of themselves for being adaptable. Some students have had to take bucket showers with only a few inches of water, but through that experience they are gaining a profound understanding of water issues in Tanzania. It’s definitely been a huge transition, but they have been so positive and are really getting the most out of this program.

The students finished up their work on the classroom today. Once they leave, the community will complete the roof and put on the plaster. In addition to helping to construct the classroom, they also initiated an awesome mural project.

To celebrate, the community hosted a final ceremony and made certificates for the students. Charlie, one of the students, gave a really great speech to thank the community for hosting them and giving them such a warm welcome.

Given that it’s the final night of the homestay experience, there were lots of tears today. In the morning, the group got together and talked about the importance of soaking in every single moment on a program like this:

“To be in a place like this with a purpose is so rare,” explained Adam, the Director.  “You can’t just walk up to a small village like this and start walking around and become part of the community. It needs to be purposeful, you need to be invited, and it’s just so spectacular to honor those little scenes and images that most people will never get a chance to see. Soak it up!!”

The program thus far has been incredibly moving, wonderful, challenging, and absolutely transformative. We at Global Routes are so grateful to work with this phenomenal group of students from Notre Dame Academy. Joan and Betty, the chaperones, have been absolutely outstanding. They have been  incredible role models for the students and have been willing to jump in on every task: cooking, cleaning, or whatever is needed. They have maintained the values that bring us all together. Big shout out to them.

Lots more coming! Next up, the safari!!

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