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As I departed from the plane, I left all my worries and concerns in my chair. Walking into the beautiful morning in the Africa sun made me realize that I was at the right place at the right time. My school was there to spread our culture and our love of the arts to the people of Africa.
First off, this trip taught me to appreciate what America has to offer. We lived in a old motel with no shower and oily floors. We washed our clothes in the sink and we could not drink the tap water. We walked everywhere. We suffered culture shock. No matter how much research you do, you can never be prepared for the change of traveling to a third-world country.
We had been preparing for months. Teachers went through each student’s application to find a select few who were ready to share their knowledge with the world. Our location: Zambia, Africa. Our Mission: To spread the American cultural arts while learning about Zambian art forms. As a whole, the team raised thousands of dollars and collected an exceeding amount of donations. These donations were put into bags and given to children living in the Balm of Gilead and the Tashe orphanages, or homes.
We spent the first week of our trip seeing Africa and experiencing the cultures. We were able to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. And it was a wonder. The falls were loud, proud, and majestic. Our group was also able to go on a safari and see the animals up close and not behind bars. We took dance and drumming classes. Each song and dance told a story about the way the Zambian people lived.
The greatest part of the experience was being with the children. All of the orphans were associated with HIV or AIDS. They were left alone in the world and had nothing. Yet, those children touched our hearts for being elated about life and appreciative of the very little they had. The team was blessed enough to be with the kids and know them individually. We taught them some songs, dances, and crafts popular in America. They taught us not only Zambian arts, but also to be content with life and made us realize how truly blessed our country really is.
The time came to return home. Everyone wanted to take a child with them back to America. How could these children be so happy while living the way that they were? Is it possible that these children were wise beyond their age? This was something I will never fully know. The experience taught me so much and left me thinking. Leaving Africa, I was asked to summarize the experience in one word. Rewarding.