A few months ago we introduced two Queen Elizabeth Scholars who are now in Tanzania for the summer. Matt Jalink (Intern) and Keisha Jefferies (Scholar) have sent us updates to share.
Habari (Hello) from the Motherland!
Keisha Jefferies is a Master’s of Nursing student at Dalhousie University
What an experience this has been thus far. Not only is this my first time in Tanzania, but it is also my first trip to the Motherland. I was unsure of what to expect in terms of the lifestyle, social norms and attitudes, but I am definitely adjusting, settling in nicely and loving every moment!
Since arriving in Dar, I have been learning Swahili (one of the National languages in Tanzania) and it is paying off in the sense that I am able to connect with many people and build relationships. I still have a long way to go before I can hold a decent conversation in Swahili, but people are certainly amused and supportive of my attempts!
I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with my host (who is a dietician, nutritionist and lifestyle coach) on a project currently underway with the World Food Program (WFP). The project is focused around increasing awareness about healthy living for staff by proving education on healthy food choices, baseline measurements such as blood pressure (BP), fast blood glucose (FBG), height, weight and body mass index (BMI) as well as sharing options for exercise/ physical activity. We had a few busy days of preparing, presenting, taking baseline measurements and interacting with the WFP staff. Currently, my host is completing the analysis and will soon roll out the intervention phase of the project.
In addition to learning Swahili and volunteering with the WFP project, I am also working on my own project and program requirements for my Masters! Needless to say, it has been a busy 6 weeks but I am finding time to make friends and enjoy the beautiful city of Dar es Salaam. I have met some wonderfully nice people throughout the city and at the university. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to attend 3 Masters level lectures on Research Methods for the Midwifery and Critical Care students. This was an amazing experience. Not only I was also able to share ideas and learn from the students and faculty, I was able to sit in and provide feedback on thesis topic presentations.
I am looking forward to the many adventures, experiences and opportunities over the next 7 weeks!
Karibu Tanzania! (Welcome to Tanzania)
Matt Jalink is a Community Health and Epidemiology student at Dalhousie University
Karibu Tanzania! (Welcome to Tanzania). I’ve heard this phrase countless times since arriving in Dar es Salaam. Reminiscent of my last visit to the northern city Moshi, the friendliness Tanzanians have shown me is amazing. This hot, bustling metropolis is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities, and stretches out into dozens of districts each with its own subsection of wards. I reside in the city centre district in a quaint little hotel 10 minutes walk from the Indian Ocean. I catch the dala dala (minivan buses) to work every morning in a nearby district called Temeke. Commuting is an experience in itself with obscene driving, constant usage of the horn and doubling the van’s capacity limit giving the suspension a workout. Traffic jams are frequent, so at times hoping on a boda boda (motor cycle taxi) is needed to maneuver around the traffic.
Working as an epidemiology student at PASADA has been a fantastic learning experience. In a very self-directed role, I have been acting primarily as a consultant on a tuberculosis diagnostic test project. Applying the skills I have gained from my coursework to the workplace has been both rewarding and challenging. Participating in data collection in some of the slums of Dar es Salaam was an eye-opening experience despite thinking that I was mentally prepared. However most of my time has been spent assembling the data set and coding the dataset for analysis.
The majority of my free time has been spent exploring the city and surrounding area. Bongoyo Island was a beautiful escape from the city. Watching the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between Tanzania and Egypt at the national stadium as an avid football (soccer) player and fan was an incredible atmosphere to be apart of.
Kwaheri! (Bye for now)
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