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Lolita C. Ward's Story

Lolita Ward makes friends during the Happiness Now Project in Tanzania in 2023

I was blessed with the privilege to take part in a NSCC International trip to Africa just two short weeks ago. This trip was part of a learning opportunity offered to 10 successful applicant students from all NSCC campuses.

This trip gave us a chance to work in a team setting with a group of 20 Tanzanian students from VETA Hotel and Training Institute. The barriers we were faced with just from this experience were huge, but we learned a lot from our Tanzanian community. We overcame language barriers; we tackled business plans and learned their culture. We learned the importance of listening to their ideas and valuing a difference of opinions. 

This educational experience was not a vacation. It was a learning opportunity that not many others get to experience, and it was a cultural shock to my system, especially once I arrived home and my thoughts about money was altered, and my mindset toward others have changed, but society around me has not. The locals around Arusha have much, love much, and share much, but also have so little, yet they give freely and love freely, which is amazing to me because I struggle to love others until a relationship is established; I rarely trust others until they show me, they can be trusted.

 Having clean, safe water as soon as you turn on the tap, is not a luxury for them as it is for us. Having hot water whenever you need it, is not what I experienced during those two weeks away. Squirrelling away toilet paper whenever I went to a bathroom, to make sure we had some in case it ran out, is never a problem I've ever had to face in Canada!

 I had difficulty understanding their accent and spoke slowly so they could understand mine. I always considered myself a good communicator, yet I found myself relying on others to help me understand simple statements, and yes, many of them spoke English.

I have never had to try to peddle my goods just to take care of my family. The locals begged for your time, not money...even though the money is what they need. They never said buy this, get that, they always said, "Sister, come look, just one second of your time please?" 

I saw very young children herding goats and cows to pastures, when I felt they ought to have been in school. I felt sadness in the normalcy of children not being actual children but working each day. I'm sure they played, but the responsibilities they carried were huge.

My favourite part of the trip was in the village of ee-Yeiyo when Mama Pallangyo gave us all beaded rings and said we are forever connected. This spoke to me so deeply because I desperately yearned to learn about my culture and to find my connection with Africa, my “Motherland” as we refer to it in our African Nova Scotian community.

Yes, I enjoyed Tanzania because of the beauty, and I enjoyed learning about the culture, but I leave with a sadness as well... If you ever get a chance to visit somewhere in this world, do it! You may have your eyes and attitude changed, for the good because of it! I guarantee, it is worth it.

I am not the same person who left, as I am now!