Anyone who knows me can agree that I am not exactly good at goodbyes. Actually, let me re-phrase, I am terrible at goodbyes. When I said goodbye to my parents and boyfriend at the airport I was crying so hard that the woman at TSA actually asked if she could give me a hug. It was not pretty.
I thought that goodbye was going to be the hardest goodbye of this trip, and I could not have been more wrong. I’m not going to lie, I figured that preparing to leave Tanzania was not going to be easy, but I never imagined it would be this hard. This week, I had to say goodbye to my students, and wow, it was so much harder than I had expected. I wish more than anything that I could have been able to explain to them just how much they mean to me, that they have changed my life more than they could ever know. My sweet students have taught me more about the world, joy, and love than I could have ever imagined. I genuinely don’t know how I am going to leave them. In addition to saying bye to my students, I have had to say goodbye to my host family and the amazing friends that I have made throughout my time here. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would have been able to become a part of such an incredible community. Goodbyes are hard, however, they are incredibly necessary in taking the next steps forward in our lives. Even though I am not technically leaving Tanzania until July 30th, this week I had to walk away from my new normal. From the people that have filled my life with incredible joy, from the job that has reminded me of just how much we have to learn from those younger than us, and from the place that I have come to call home over the last nine weeks. Not going to lie, these goodbyes looked a bit like the one that happened just a few short months ago at the airport. But once again, these goodbyes were necessary. As crazy as it is, Tanzania has become comfortable to me. Tanzania has become home, and the idea of going back home, while so exciting, is a little terrifying. Once again, I have no idea what to expect.
But you see, we all have to get out of the boat sometimes. We must trust that there are great things waiting for us on the other side of our comfort zone. Before coming here, my comfort zone was exceptionally different than it is now, and I would be absolutely lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit anxious about returning to the States. However, I know that this is where we experience the most growth. In my time here, I learned more about the world, being a good person, and being independent than I have in my entire life. The majority of this growth can be attributed to the people I have been exposed to and the work that I have been able to do. Yet, I believe that a lot of this growth can also be attributed to the fact that I felt way in over my head. I had to learn how to live a radically different life than the one that I was used to, and I believe that it is this uncomfortable place that I was in psychologically that helped me trust in myself and my faith more than I ever have.
My time in Tanzania has changed me in ways that I cannot quite describe and I will never take that for granted. However, now that the work is done, its time for a vacation!! Tomorrow, my dad will be arriving in Arusha and we will be spending the next 11 days exploring this country that I have come to call home. We will be traveling to Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, and Ngorongoro Conservation area for safari, spending a few days in Arusha, and then heading to Zanzibar for some time on the beach. While I am heartbroken about saying goodbye to the people here than have become a second family to me, I am so excited to share Tanzania with someone that I love, and honestly, I am beyond excited for the adventures to come!
Song of the Week: Great Summer by Vance Joy