Student volunteers make a difference in Tanzanian communities
31 October 2019
Four chemistry students volunteered their time in Arusha this summer to teach English and mathematics in Tanzanian schools.
James Jones, Sian Phillips, Samantha Fagan and Hannah O’donnell spent three weeks living and working in Arusha communities as part of the Agape Volunteers teaching programme, a charity project which supports humanitarian work to improve lives across Africa.
The student volunteers gained practical classroom experience teaching English and mathematics, while supporting the education of disadvantaged children in understaffed and underfunded schools.
Samantha said about her time spent in Tanzania: “My trip was as fun as it was enlightening. Being immersed in their way of life, from the huts and cold showers to the public transport (sometimes shared with chickens or goats), gave me an insight into some of the major differences in our cultures.”
When they weren’t volunteering in local schools, the students had the opportunity to explore Tanzania’s safari capital and hike the snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro.
The students spent time with the local tribes and joined a safari where they was lucky enough to see all of the Big Five, including the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo.
James extended his trip to complete an unforgettable adventure: “I stayed [in Tanzania] an extra week to fulfill my lifelong dream of climbing Kilimanjaro. I took the Lemosho route with two other experienced climbers. We saw some of the most beautiful scenery along the way.”
Volunteering opportunities like this one give students' a great insight into the diverse career paths available to chemistry graduates, as well as broadening their experiences and developing new skills that could be valuable to employers. Above all, volunteering abroad is to change lives for the better.
For Samantha the experience was eye-opening: “It made me realise the things we take for granted. [It was] an excellent experience that I will never forget.”
James made new friends and immersed himself in the culture: “I met some of the nicest people in my life. Everyone was eager to show me a bit of their culture, from food tasting to dancing to sightseeing.”
James’s time in Tanzania has helped shape his future: “It’s fair to say I am completely besotted with Tanzania and its people. I have found the experience very rewarding and will be looking to do more volunteering in the holidays.”
The trip was made possible by the Ron Anderson Global Opportunity Scholarship, which was established using a generous donation from Cardiff alumnus Mr Ron Anderson (BSc, 1969). Funding was also contributed by Cardiff University's Global Opportunities scheme and the School of Chemistry.