Living "Pole Pole" in Tanzania
Posted: February 27, 2017
Life at Moyo Hill Camp has been a pleasant surprise in more ways than one. I came to Rhotia without many expectations, opting instead to keep an open mind and embrace whatever surprises greeted me. I recall being taken aback by how absolutely beautiful the campus was and how very much it resembled a summer camp with its bunk beds, hammocks, and volleyball court. It felt as though it were a place of fun and adventure. I’m still surprised by how quickly we all became acclimated to life on campus. I couldn’t tell you how many students I’ve heard comment that it feels as though we’ve been here “forever.” There is always something to do and someone to do it with. From playing soccer with staff and locals to exploring the food joints and tailors in Rhotia, having a dull day simply isn’t an option.
In addition to the constant buzz and activities that I’ve enjoyed being a part of, I feel equally excited about the lifestyle habits that I feel I’ve acquired during my time here so far. The first and perhaps most liberating is the drastic decrease I’ve noticed in my daily use of technology. Instead of habitually checking social media or email I have found myself taking that time to learn more about my classmates or the amazing staff. Additionally, I never realized how consumptive my lifestyle had been beforehand which was surprising considering that I have always prided myself on doing everything I could to reduce my environmental impact.
There’s a common motto in Tanzania – pole pole – which translates to “slowly slowly” but on a less literal level expresses the notion of slowing down to appreciate the here and now and being flexible in the face of inconvenience. To me, pole pole embodies all of the aspects about camp life that I’ve grown to love, manifesting itself in taking the time to bird watch, sit down with a professor during dinner, or telling yourself that cold showers are better for you anyways when the power goes out and the hot water goes with it. My experiences in Tanzania so far have forced me to humbly re-prioritize values that I had once deemed immovable thanks to the eye-opening cultures and people that I have been privileged to meet.