Salesforce volunteers visiting one of Make A Difference’s student’s home villages in Tanzania to learn more about the culture.
The post below was written by eight Salesforce.com employees who volunteered with Make A Difference (MAD) in July 2016.
Our Salesforce group spent a wonderful week in Moshi, volunteering with MAD. We found the MAD students to be extremely bright and very enthusiastic about learning. They have a great grasp on their possible future occupations and know what they need to do to achieve those goals, more specifically, which subjects they need to focus on while in school. The fact that at such a young age, they know that they want to be doctors who can heal the world, pilots whom see the world and computer engineers in order to improve the infrastructure of the world, is incredible. The students loved to show us their good penmanship and papers with good marks (grades). They were proud of their achievements and it made us that much more honored to help assist in their strife to reach for the stars.
Reflecting on our week in Moshi, we observed some interesting cultural differences between Tanzania and the world in which we come from. In Tanzania, life is simple and people are very easy going. “Hakuna matata” is both a phrase and a wonderful way of life.
Attitude – Overall, Tanzanians are very friendly and polite to foreigners. The children that we met were obedient, respectful and sweet. They showed a lot of respect for their elders. They seemed to have a deep sense of responsibility and independence. For instance, they all told us they wash their own clothes (this rarely happens in the US!). Though Tanzanian children have very little, they are careful about what they have, always smiling and wanting to make the best out of their situation. The students were very matter of fact and mature even when sharing the details about the fire in their dorms (a scary and upsetting experience). In the states, kids are used to being spoiled and are raised to be much more dependent.
Technology – Though there is less regulation in Tanzania, there is broad use of solar technology which is really impressive. Tanzania is less immersed in the digital world and is not as dependent on technology. They’re a little bit off the grid here and free from Americans’ internet dependency. There are times where the internet or power goes out in Tanzania and it’s considered part of daily life. In the US, if this were to happen, we panic and our productivity level decreases. We rely heavily on computers and the internet to do our work as professionals and learn in school even at young ages.
Transportation – Directions are challenging in Tanzania because there aren’t street addresses and people use landmarks to provide directions. Transportation is also chaotic here; it’s less organized than US cities, where we have subways, highways, passing lanes, etc. And, in Tanzania, most people don’t have a vehicle; many people walk or take the dalla dalla or boda. In the US, driving cars is very common in all areas, expect for some very large cities.
Food – Food options here are much more simple and based on local harvest availability. When we asked people what their favorite food is, they often mentioned something homemade. Here, going out to eat is considered a treat. In the U.S., we ship and transport a lot of food. We rely less on local foods and waste a lot of food. Also, going out to eat is considered more commonplace and may even include on-the-go options, like fast food.
Tools & Materials – There are machetes everywhere in Tanzania! The machete is an example of a multipurpose tool here which is used to cut bricks, measure things, hack down plants, etc. Also, we’ve seen people here hike and build buildings in flip flops. In the US, we’re very particular abut having specialized gear and tools for each activity.