Student News

Tanzania #14 — Making the Connection

Christina Kopp – March 19, 2014

Sam Morse ’15 celebrates the new friendships she has found through service:

Fourteen girls strolled reluctantly into a primary school classroom. They sat around the tables nervously laughing at one another and talking amongst themselves. As we went around the circle and introduced ourselves, we slowly connected with the oldest girls at JBFC. In hopes of breaking the cultural barrier between us, we broke out into two small random groups to participate in the human knot game. After the girls successfully completed two different rounds of the game, we created a circle of trust in the back of the classroom. We generated a comfortable environment for the girls to share three attributes of themselves; by sitting knee to knee, we bonded and laughed together.

“I am a good listener,” whispered one. “I am outgoing and very talkative,” I said. After learning new things about one another and really opening up to each other we split off into 4 groups to make up clever skits that included leadership and problem solving.

Latisha took charge in our group and perfectly put together a thoughtful skit with humor, seriousness, and a fantastic moral lesson.  “Sam, can I tell you a secret,” Latisha said. “Sure,” I quickly responded. “Well I kind of have a crush on Jacob, but don’t tell anybody because I trust you.” I nodded understandingly. We hugged before I frantically ran over to the other group of girls to spread her secret. By portraying this typical bullying situation, we taught the girls that it’s important to trust their friends and keep secrets to yourself.

  “Do you girls have any questions, concerns, or need advice on a situation you might be in?” No hands shot up. After giving one last big round of applause for all the girls and their thoughtfulness and trust, we hugged each one and waved ‘kwaheri’ (goodbye).

Travis, the guest coordinator here, observed our entire leadership session closely: “You are the quickest group ever that has really connected with the oldest girls here at JBFC.” After receiving great feedback and achieving our initial goals of having all the girls participate, share, and laugh, Ali, Christie, Katherine, and I walked away with big, content smiles on our faces—knowing that we were not just any volunteer group.

Four hours later, I sat on the cool dining hall floor getting my hair braided by Imma, a 14-year-old girl that participated in the leadership class. After tying off the last braid, she wrapped me in her arms. “Maybe later we can meet up and I can tell you my story and get some advice from you,” she whispered.