Tanzania #3: Karibu

Anna Dyjach ’24, shares a warm and welcome arrival at Mainsprings.

Arriving at 2 AM to the Mainsprings Campus, after a one-hour trip from the airport made by safari cars, I had no idea what to expect. I was tired and 7,000 miles or so away from home. Immediately, as we stepped out of the safari car, ten men surrounded our Safari cars and lifted our heavy bags up the flight of rock stairs. The welcoming didn’t stop there. Inside our dormitory, we were greeted with a meal composed of white rice, beans, and a green vegetable, even that late at night or, more accurately, early in the morning. In a place so seemingly foreign, the Mainsprings team made me feel at home.

Throughout our tour on the first day here at Mainsprings, strangers that we see walking the meandering paths of the campus will pause, shake our hands, introduce themselves, and say, Karibu, to which we respond Asante, or thank you. The endearment and lengthy handshake accompanying this word makes me believe that we are karibu, or that we are welcome. Hospitality is extraordinarily apparent in Tanzanian culture, Jonas, our host, explained to us, which cannot be truer. I feel their karibu through the lengthy and delicious home-cooked meals prepared for us, through the high-fives and fist-bumps given to us by the Mainsprings students on their way to lunch, through their prayers, their singing, and their hugs.

Further along our campus tour, we reached the orphanage. The hand-made signs on the wall warmed my heart: “Happy to have you Deerfield”, “You are cordially welcome at Mainsprings & feel at Home”, “You are Warmly Welcome & feel at home”. These words are far more than just words because they are consistently shown through their actions. Later, when we arrived back at the orphanage to meet our reading buddies, I immediately felt a connection. I talked to my new best friends, Yonga, Selma, and Vero. We conversed about everything from our favorite colors to our favorite artists. It turns out that Vero is the biggest self-proclaimed Barb (Nicki Minaj fan) in the entire world.

After we played some games at the orphanage, we shared yet another delicious meal of rice, beans, and fruit together. During dinner, I was conversing again with Yonga and Selma about music, and they insisted on me singing a song. After much influence and without an escape to the girls’ pleas, I sung, ‘You Belong With Me”, by Taylor Swift, which exploded into a cafeteria-wide concert accompanied with clapping. The girls continued singing with us. Songs included “Lean On Me”, the American national anthem, the Tanzanian national anthem, “Firework”, “Shake it Off”, “Baby”, the Deerfield Evensong, the Deerfield Fight song, and a Tanzanian prayer.

When it was time to leave the orphanage, every single girl ambushed me with open arms, all desperate for a hug. We only met the girls three hours ago, but they acted as though they have known us their whole life and will never see us again when we said goodbye. Spoiler alert, we are going to see them again tomorrow. Walking out the orphanage wall, “Dream about me!” was cried out from the girls. It’s only the first day of our stay here on Mainsprings, yet I already feel as though I have made a second family.