Visitors from Mount Saint Mary’s University – Part 1

Fr. Jim Donohue.

Last year I began planning for a service trip for faculty and students from Mount St. Mary’s University to the Resurrection parish and schools in Buhemba. We settled on a two-week experience. Two faculty members, one alumna, and five students left Dulles International Airport on Monday, May 27 and arrived in Mwanza—after stops in Dubai and Dar es Salaam—late on Tuesday, May 28. They slept in a hotel in Mwanza for the first night, and then had a relaxing day and night in Mwanza on Wednesday, May 29. Fr. Maciej and I left Buhemba on that day and arrived to meet and welcome our visitors. We stayed overnight and then left at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 30 for the 4-hour school bus drive to Buhemba.

The rest of the day was devoted to settling in and becoming oriented to the surroundings. It did not take long for people to begin to feel at home.

Mt. St. Mary 1-2

Here is Emily (a senior Education major), Matthew (a graduate school Sports Management major), Charlie (an 8th grade student), and his father Charles Strauss. Charles is the person who did most of the planning on the Mount side of things. Charles is a History Professor at the Mount, specializing in American Catholic History. He earned a master’s degree in South Africa and has traveled extensively in Africa.

It did not take long for the children in the area to find out that the visitors had arrived. In no time, people were throwing Frisbees and small footballs, exchanging greetings, and playing games. Everyone quickly learned the Swahili word for “welcome,” which is Karibu! I heard this over and over from both young and old people in the parish as they welcomed our visitors. Our visitors should have been tired after their long flights, but they seemed energized and excited to immerse themselves in this new environment.

Charlie made a new friend immediately! When you do not know the language, a smile is the best way to communicate.

Emily was justifiably excited to be here. Her mother is a teacher and Emily wants to follow in her footsteps. I think her future students will be very fortunate to have her as their teacher.

The other Mount professor that was part of the service trip is Dr. Susann Samples. Susann is the longest serving professor at the Mount, specializing in German and Spanish. It did not take long for the girls to find her! Susann picked up many Swahili words very quickly…no surprise to anyone who knows her for her language and people skills!

Susann and I have been friends for many years. I love to tease her, and she loves/hates that I tease her. On the whole, she behaved herself, but on the tour of the gymnasium, I thought she was trying to steal one of the athletic jerseys for her granddaughter. She insisted that she was just looking, but I told Fr. Maciej to make sure that the security cameras were on. One cannot be too careful these days! 😊

Here is the photo that I took of the “incident.” What do you think?

In all seriousness, it was so good to see Susann and to share my experience of Tanzania with her. She added so much to the service trip.

We also had two brothers on the trip: Emerson and Henry. Emerson is a Human Services major at Mount St. Mary’s University and Henry is a Computer Science major at the University of Maryland. Here they are with Emily on the tour of Resurrection Primary School.

The other member of “our team” is Christine, who came with a vast experience as a researcher at Fort Detrick and at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. She also earned her master’s degree in business administration at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Christine had traveled widely and was able to bring a unique experience and perspective to our group. Just as with Susann, the girls and young women flocked to Christine. A generous smile and a warm heart will always attract people!

We had a pause in our tour of the pre-primary and primary school. Here, Charlie, Charles and Christine are “comparing notes” about the experience so far that day. By the way, we had many conversations in the evenings to “unpack” all that everyone experienced in their new surroundings in Tanzania,

Our whole group: Charlie, Charles, Christine, Susann, Emerson, Henry, Emily, and Matthew.

We began the day with Mass in the morning at 7:00, and after a quick breakfast, we were welcomed by the pre-primary and primary school children.

After this warm welcome, we toured each of the classrooms in the pre-primary and primary schools, with our able guide, Fr. Maciej.

More to come on www.resurrectionists.ca

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