Global Education

Visit from Msangi sparks student interest

By Justin Quinn and Hye-Jung Yang
Published: October 2009

Tanzania may seem like a distant place to many students, but over the past few years, Newton and this African nation have strengthened their bonds.

In 2006, Newton and Kwala, a village in Tanzania, connected and formed a strong relationship, which has been developing since then.
South students have been doing their part to help, and get to know Tanzania by forming the Newton-Tanzania Collaboration (NCT) and holding an events to raise awareness about the country.

On Friday October 16, the NCT held such an event during all lunches. Athuman Msangi, a teacher from Tanzania and coordinator for the NTC, made an appearance and stayed in the cafeteria to talk with students about his country.

His visit provided a unique opportunity to explore differences between the two cultures.

Bracelets were also sold here, all proceeds going towards Kwala. For the rest of the day, many students sported the multicolored bracelets, displaying their support.

Though the program is not new, many people were unaware of the school’s association with Tanzania until they saw the booth in the cafeteria.

“It’s great that South is raising awareness and money for Tanzania, junior Austin Pollak said, previously unaware of the school’s involvement with the country.

Msangi stood at the table, waiting with a welcoming smile for students to stop by.  Each student who came to talk to him or buy a bracelet received a friendly greeting from Msangi. He was pleased students were supporting the event and making an effort to connect.

Msangi appreciated the chance to come and talk to students and faculty, noting the differences between the school he teaches at in Tanzania and South.

“Because this is my second time at South, I am learning a lot about here. All facilities are in school.  In Tanzania, we [lack] computers and electricity. I don’t think [South students] know all that they have in school that Tanzania lacks, Msangi said.

As a result of the relationship that South has built with the Kwala Secondary School in Tanzania, NTC will be hosting its first student exchange program with the school in mid-July.

Initially planned to take place last summer, the trip was originally cancelled. Students are especially excited for this summer’s trip because many never had the opportunity to go last summer.

Everyone involved hopes that the trip this summer will immerse them in the unique Tanzanian culture that they have learned about over the past few years.

Scheduled to last two weeks, the trip will include visits to the capital city of Darslom, Zanzibar Island, and Kumi National Park, a two-day safari, and a visit to the village of Kwala, where students will do home-stays with teachers.

In addition to making visits, students will participate in a community service project.

Last year, members of a group trip to Kwala participated in projects such as painting a large mural for the community.

According to Ross Lohr, the executive director of the Newton Tanzania Program, if South is able to fund the construction of a new computer lab at the Kwala Secondary School, South students may teach computer classes to Kwala students as community service projects for next year’s trip.

Lohr said that since South has already built a relationship with the community, the exchange will be easier and students will not be considered as outsiders or tourists, a major goal of the program.

Through events and trips, people in Newton and Kwala are achieving their goal and gaining a new understanding for the other’s community.

“Our sister schools better the friendship, Msangi said. “Our school is changing; more Americans are aware of what is going on in Africa.

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