|Taken while ascending Mt. Fuji, 2010|
Once again, I've been inspired by Kim over at So Many Places (remember her from this time and this time?), and following her pre-departure declaration of The Travel Commandments, I thought it would be a great idea to come up with my own.
Without further ado, I present to you my own 10 Commandments, to guide my experience abroad, to remind me to be true to myself, and to make the best decisions in any situation.
- Mwalimu M
There is more than one way to live - the Western way isn't necessarily the 'right' way. Always embrace alternatives, appreciate differences, and admire the peoples who surround you.
In lieu with Commandment 1, your blog is not an expose. Always be culturally sensitive, and while you must write honestly about your experiences and observations, no one benefits if what you share is overtly negative, perpetuates stereotypes, or portrays your host country (or countries) unfairly.
Remember why you're there. It's not to travel or to take gorgeous photographs (although both could be added bonuses) - you're there to commit yourself to helping educate under-served students. I don't think you're going to forget it, but don't put anything above your kids.
Take care of yourself. While you exist in the community to serve your students, you can't teach them anything if you're laying in bed with food poisoning, an asthma attack, or Dengue. Stay healthy, and stay on top of your own needs. Like the airline attendants always say if the oxygen were to drop: "put on your mask before helping those around you".
As BonQuiQui would say: "You can have what you like, but don't get crazy". Do exciting things, increase your heart rate, but don't over-do it. The words 'Fun' and 'Safe' can and should exist in harmony (most of the time).
Try to say yes to new things, unless it's better to say no. There's no need to compromise your own values, unless it'd be offensive / culturally insensitive to decline (I'm envisioning various icky meat situations right now).
Be open with new people and forge relationships. I know this is something that you find hard to do, but you'll be grateful you did it further down the road. Connect with your fellow WorldTeach volunteers, your students, your colleagues, your neighbors, and everyone and anyone you meet. Everyone will bring something new to the table, and you never know how they might change your world.
Stay in touch. You're far, far away, but technological advances exist so use them when you can (and people who care about me better show me some love too).
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Life isn't easy, and you're guaranteed to come across some challenges along the way. Just remember you don't have to face them all alone.
Be thankful. Of everyone and everything, every single day. You are unbelievably blessed.
If you're interested in volunteering in Tanzania, visit our website at www.worldteach.org. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 857.259.6646.