hi! My name is Syeda Sohaib and i’m 15 years old. I’m from north carolina and i’m a student on this trip to Iringa, Tanzania. I choose this trip because of the chance to work with the girls and help empower them!
My host family experience these past two weeks has been challenging. Probably the biggest challenge has been the language barrier because it restricts me from having a full conversation with my family. Although the barrier is a roadblock, both my host family and I work together to overcome it!
For example I will bring my Swahili book to the dinner table to start conversations with my family. My host mom will find the Swahili words she wants to say in the book and then find the English translations and say those to me to make it simple.
My family consists of Mama, Baba, Deo (who is 13) and Christian (who is 3). We also have two live-in maids in our household. Each person in the family has a role to help around the house. It’s like a cycle - if one person gets out of cycle then the result will be different. Mama speaks very little English - she can only say greetings and a few small words here and there - but Baba knows enough to start conversations (although he isn’t always home). Often when Baba isn’t home, our dinners have been pretty silent or they consist of us all watching the news together while we eat.
Every day when we get home from activities we are greeted with a special welcome and then a few hours later we eat dinner. Our dinners usually consist of tea, rice and main dish. My favorite dish is njegele (peas cooked in a cocnut milk sauce) and Ugali - tamu sana (very delicious)!
My family does a great job of including me and making me feel at home! Of course I feel homesick some days and miss my family and friends but I soon surpass this feeling because I feel like a part of my family here. I didn’t expect this experience to be a piece of cake and there are difficult moments but we have to persevere to learn from them. I’m gonna miss my family and I am very thankful for them sharing their home with me!
***note from Fiona: almost all host families have at least one if not multiple members of the family who speak good English. Syeda happens to have been placed with a family who speaks less than most and she is doing an awesome job of turning this slight challenge into a learning experience!