This is the time of year in the Tanzanian school calendar for students to go back to school, so TFFT staff are running around making sure all of our scholars have transport back to their respective schools, delivering books and basic supplies, following up on medical checkups, and making sure everything is in place for the upcoming semester. Our Family Cell Heads will make sure the scholars all settle well in their new environment. Peer Mentors have been primed to keep an eye out for scholars in need of support, and meet regularly for peer mentoring sessions. The school cycle propels the work of TFFT. For myself, my term at TFFT is coming to a close. I have worked along with the good people of TFFT for 18 months.
I have learned so much throughout my time at TFFT; how the Tanzanian educational system works, how to best negotiate with school authorities where I implement programs and work with scholars, a new database, and which livelihood activity will bring the best benefit to a particular home. Overall, I have learned many skills, but the most important lessons have been of a more personal nature, such as how to respond and how to communicate in a Tanzanian context. My co-workers have been great role models and in some cases great mentors for me.
The greatest lesson I learned from all my co-workers is how to be calm in all different types of situations. I have worked most closely with Stephen, who was TFFT’s Scholarship and Mentoring Program Manager, and I consider him my friend and mentor. We had a reciprocal relationship, and often bounced ideas off each other. He is a passionate person and I learned a lot from him about how to interact with Tanzanian people, especially young people. He exudes warmth.
Hedwiga has been a great role model for me. Sometimes I think to myself “How would Hedwiga react?” when I am faced with a difficult situation. She is always so calm and maintains a good balance between concern and detachment. This is a very good trait when dealing with the life issues that can develop with over 110 scholars, many of them now teenagers. She is like a mother who cannot be fazed.
I also learned so much about a particular management style from Melissa, our Country Director. It is a complex job, and she manages to maintain her jolliness and infinite patience in the face of so many challenges. I hope to incorporate such a style in my work, because I can see how effective it is.
I have also been impressed by the interpersonal skills of our American colleagues who are so bright and energetic when they come to the Tanzanian office. They are so expressive, articulate, and they share such inspiring stories about TFFT’s work in Tanzania. They are impressive communicators and I have learned much from them.
In the end, it is always about people for me, and I have loved working with all my colleagues including Noah, Kaka Deo, Hilda, Robin, Daniel Stephen, Viola, Daniel Lymo, Yunia, and Abishai. My favorite job at TFFT has been working with our Peer Mentors in my Family Cell and my hope for TFFT in the future is that these young people can grow to be influencers for us all.
I am very happy to announce that I have further work with Australian Volunteers International in Tanzania in Moshi. I will be working with the Alumni of Africaid’s Kisa Program, which is a young women’s empowerment program. Much of what I have learned at TFFT will give me a great head start in this new position, and I am truly most grateful.