A Travellerspoint blog


My First Experience in Tanzania

Lynn McDonagh Hughes' blog

sunny 32 °C


When we first found out that we would be part of NSCC’s EFE project in Tanzania I think I was in shock for weeks…in fact I know I was. It was absolutely surreal to truly believe that I would be visiting a place that I only dreamed of. So on the morning of our departure I fully expected the reality to set in but it didn’t. Still unbelievable and so this continued all the way to Dar es Salaam. Once we landed and felt the incredible heat it hit me that we were certainly in my kind of climate…but still could not comprehend that it was Africa. I cannot begin to describe or explain everything we did and saw and the people who have impacted my life.

My colleagues have done an amazing job with their blogs so there is no need for me to repeat what they experienced as I share in the words that were so eloquently written. So my blog is more about my personal experience and how waking up each day in Tanzania was a true gift.

The Tanzanian landscape is beautiful, the people are kind and genuine and incredibly welcoming to Lisa and me who was also experiencing Africa for the first time. Meeting the students was an incredibly fulfilling experience and their eagerness to learn about us, Nova Scotia and Canada was overwhelming but in a very positive way. Everyone at the Mikumi VETA campus made us feel welcome and Saronga and Patrick were especially attentive – thank you for making us feel at home. We know that there was a lot happening behind the scenes but we never felt that we were imposing on anyone.

It is an uplifting experience to visit a classroom where teachers are truly valued and treated with great respect. I can only comment on Saronga and Patrick as teachers – it is apparent that they love what they do and are eager to share their knowledge with their students and with us. It was a privilege to spend time in their classroom and with their students. It was also very interesting to see that although we may have different delivery methods, tourism is tourism - it was fascinating to hear the same things being taught in a Tanzanian classroom (but obviously with a Tanzanian slant)!

I too have to comment on the experience of the early morning assembly. We were honoured to be invited and again the pride felt by the people of Tanzania was evident as faculty and students alike sang their national anthem. It was quite emotional to be part of the raising of the Nova Scotia flag. It certainly made me proud to be Canadian and I think we are all very grateful for the tactfulness expressed by our Tanzanian friends as I’m sure that their true reaction to our singing was not being expressed – we knew we were bad but not to what extent until we heard ourselves on video – I think that is all that needs to be said about that!

It was a privilege to be able to share resources with our Tanzanian colleagues and to feel that our small contribution was appreciated. We are proud to have been included in this project and enjoyed seeing the successes that have been gained by the faculty’s’ visits to Nova Scotia. The new Visitor Information Centre shows great promise and it was amazing to see what elements have been incorporated from our own provincial VIC’s. (Principal Christopher Ayo brought this idea back from Canada with input from Saronga and tourism faculty at NSCC).

Thank you to Katie and Jim for doing such an amazing job preparing us for this adventure! Yes we experienced power outages, cold showers, finicky toilets (and strange animal noises at night) but I wouldn’t change anything – it certainly put into perspective the things that we often take for granted. And yes by the end I can honestly say that a hot shower, running toilet and power were very much welcomed!

Thank you to our Tanzanian friends for welcoming us into your classrooms and for participating in our sessions. Thank you to all the students who shared their culture with us and allowed us to share ours with them. I strongly believe that the shared experience will make each of us a better teacher, facilitator and most importantly a better person.

Did the reality of being in Africa finally hit home? It sure did – in the wonderful memories of the people we met, the experiences we shared and the absolute beauty of Mikumi, Tanzania.

Lynn McDonagh Hughes
Operations Manager, Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council

Posted by NSCC Intl 07:08 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

TIANS in Tanzania with NSCC and VETA Mikumi

Lisa Dahr's Blog

sunny 31 °C


It's the morning of March 4th and I am sitting in the Zurich airport on the middle leg of our return journey to Canada following what has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my professional career.

In the Fall of 2011, NSCC International approached the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) and the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) with an invitation to participate in an ongoing project with the Vocational Education and Training Authority
(VETA) at Mikumi Campus in Tanzania. Our mission is the development of a skilled and professional workforce for Nova Scotia's Tourism Industry and we have a strong history and reputation of providing quality resources and training to the Industry. We also are the provincial liaison to the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council and administer the national certification program for tourism industry professionals completing their credential in Nova Scotia. We own and deliver service training programs and Master Training for programs such as SuperHost Atlantic, Service First - Make the Connection, Serve Right Responsible Beverage Service Training amongst many others. Our role for the Tanzania project was to provide train the trainer activities focused on customer service excellence and also to provide feedback and suggestions regarding marketing and operations of their newly built Visitor Information Centre. Lynn McDonagh Hughes, Manager of Operations and I were the staff selected to participate in the project.

The NSCC team had forewarned us about many of the challenges of working in Tanzania - such as frequent power outages, limited hot water and difficult conditions - and their experience certainly came in handy as we had more than a few mornings of dressing by flashlight and showering with cold water! The rewards far outweighed the challenges however, as we made many wonderful connections at the VETA in Mikumi.

The campus at Mikumi offers training in a range of trades and industries including food preparation, foodservice, housekeeping, front office operations and tour guiding. Throughout the week we spent time with the students who had many questions about Canada, Nova Scotia and tourism in general. English and Swahili are the two official languages of Tanzania, however many of the students were particularly keen to practice their English communication skills with people who speak it as a first language.

During the week the teachers spent time with Lynn and I looking at training concepts and delivery techniques around customer service training. There was excellent discussion around customer expectations of both international and domestic travellers. We also spent time examining ways to integrate some of the activities into the current learning outcomes of the curriculum they are working with.

Another tool we took to the teachers were the emerit national occupational standards related to the courses taught at the school. The idea of standards for occupations and how to use than as a foundation for curriculum is a novel idea in Tanzania and there was a lot of discussion with the teachers on different approaches to using the tools.

One of my favorite memories of our time spent on campus is of the morning assembly that the NSCC and TIANS/NSTHRC visitors participated in. The Nova Scotia flag which had been a gift to the campus from an earlier visit was in poor shape so a new one was brought by Jim Bate from NSCC. Assembly is early in the morning so bright and early on Thursday morning at 7 am Jim, Claudine Lowry, Katie Orr, Lynn and I trekked to the top of the hill the campus is built on and gathered with the students and faculty next to the flagpole for the morning assembly.
The whole student body is expected to attend as are all the teachers.

Various announcements and welcomes were managed by the Campus Principal, Christopher Ayo, and teachers. The students also took turns sharing some of their learnings from the classroom with the rest of their peers.

This is all done in English to help improve their language skills. The amount of organization and respect involved in this activity was really incredible. Following the students and faculty singing the Tanzania national anthem, our flag was raised and the five of us sang O Canada (which resulted in some polite chuckling from the students - I don't think any of us will be offered a recording contract anytime soon!) Lynn and I presented Mr. Ayo with a book of images of Nova Scotia which he graciously accepted and informed the students would be available to them to look through at the campus library. There was a wonderful sense of community on the campus and the students and faculty were all exceptionally warm and welcoming.

All too soon our time at VETA Mikumi was ending and we made the journey back to Dar Es Salaam before catching the first of three different flights home. One final meeting before departing was with Lidwien Appels, the CEO of the Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT). There was some good initial discussion around their history and organizational structure and challenges that HAT is working through. We hope to be able to continue the connection with HAT and consult with them on ideas to enhance their influence and advocacy roles.

TIANS and NSTHRC look forward to continuing our communication with the teachers at VETA Mikumi in coming months to help them with questions or challenges as they work to integrate some of the materials into their curriculum. This was a small step in contributing to the enhancement of their tourism product and experience, however, we feel it was well received and will be something they will continue to use and build on.

Our time in Tanzania was truly an incredible experience. We considered it a great privilege to be part of this project phase. Asanta sana (thank you!) to our partners at NSCC and the VETA staff - especially Ludovic Saronga, Tour Guide Instrcutor extraordinaire who was the real organizer onsite for our week!

Lisa Dahr, Manager
Industry Relations & Professional Development

Posted by NSCC Intl 06:55 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

What did you learn from our journey today?

Claudine's Blog from Tanzania

sunny 34 °C


He asked, "What did you learn from our journey today?"

This is the question that Steven, a first year Tourism student from VETA Mikumi asked me as we concluded a village walk in Mikumi with about 10 students from the tourism class. It was hot, I was tired, the air was close, the mental effort of concentrating to understand students whose first language is Swhahili was taking its toll and all I wanted was to sit with a bottle of cold water. The question astonished me and all of a sudden my fatigue vanished. Of course I answered the question and probed with the students how they came to ask this type of question that I ask at NSCC. The response was that Patrick and Soronga, their teachers who studied with us in Truro, always asked them that question after any experience. This is the moment that every teacher delights in, when what they have tried to teach has actually been realized.

I have just returned from my third journey to Tanzania and Mikumi campus of the VETA system. The question of what I have learned is still relevant and still challenges me. Perhaps the underlying learning is to accept the unexpected and to with curiousity experience it. A plan never seems to work as planned and if one goes with the flow the learning about self and others is awesome. For me this "letting go" requires a conscious mental and emotional struggle as I attempt to overcome the urge to "want it my way because I think my way might be best." I am getting much better at this learning and hence I am learning more and enjoying the process.

What else have I learned? The eight Faculty that we welcomed at NSCC from Tanzania and who we learned with and became friends with are still appreciative of the experience. They are using so many of the techniques from NSCC and incorporating new ideas into their classes and with their students. We watched as Pasiens Nyoni, the new acting principal of the newest VETA College eagerly unboxed the latest dagnostic equipment he has recevied for the new motor vehicle repair shop. This equipment he saw at NSCC. He also shared with me how he is excited to work with mostly new faculty at his campus, because he will have the opportunity to use all the learning from NSCC in preparing them for their roles. As I sat in the classrooms of the faculty from Mikumi who were with us at NSCC, I am again aware that these are caring, interested and very competent teachers. They were before NSCC and what we helped with was honing skills, introducing some new concepts and giving a sense of renewed hope that what they did mattered. In all their own very appropriate ways they are preparing themselves and their students to learn how to learn. I learned that what we offerred and how we cared mattered.

There were many snippets of conversations and many encounters that left deep impressions with me of the universality of relationships, ideas and meanings. I will share two such snippets. The Principal of the campus invited all the Nova Scotians to the daily assembly. This takes place outside at 7:00 every morning with all students and faculty present before breakfast. We need to be up by 6:30 and showered and dressed to be publically introduced at the assembly. The electricity goes off during the night and so there is no hot water, air conditioning or lights when we arise. So we dress and get ready feeling somewhat scummy and bedraggled. We arrive to the assembly of very neat and pressed and washed faces. The proceedings are formal and friendly. The Tanzanian flag is raised and everyone sings in the most melodious voices the national anthem. It is truly moving. Then, they are going to raise the NS flag and tell us just before they raise it that we must follow suit and sing our national anthem. No time to fully experience the panic and horror of this - 5 of us before 400 and no one sure of the words and not sure we can carry the tune. No choice - we manage- they are estatic- and many moments of togetherness are felt. Unfortunately, we were taped and we sound so much worse on tape than we thought we were in the moment. Expect the unexpected and go with it and revel in the outcomes.

The other snippet that I will share comes from a class I was invited to facilitate with Soronga's students. This occurred just after the flag raising and obviously before breakfast. I thought I had this planned as to time, content etc. However, just before we enter the class Soronga tells me that there has been a change and I will be with Patrick's class not his and he thinks I need to be facilitating for 2 hrs. not the one originally decided upon. Go with the flow! The class was great, the students were talkative, asking questions, they indulged me with my activities and courageously engaged in english. We did an exercise to end that I always have as a backup should the unexpected happen. I call it the picture exercise were each person is asked to choose a picture and then discuss how the picture relates to them - what does this picture mean to you. They loved the universality of the visuals and each one wanted to share their interpretation of their picture. We came to the final volunteer and he had a picture of the world being held by two hands. His meaning for the choice of picture was that all we have is the world, we need to protect it and care for it and come together as different people from different countries to make a diffference to and for the world. He captured the meaning of what I have learned in my journey.

Blogs are designed to be chatty and engaging and short. Mine is not short, hopefully it answers the question Steven posed to me - what have I learned. I have really learned that I do what I do because I know education makes a difference and that difference is not always in the short term but it is like planting seeds that germinate over time and spread ideas and ways to others.

Claudine Lowry
Dean, Organizational Learning, NSCC

Posted by NSCC Intl 04:15 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

A scree-laugh in the night

Katie Orr's Blog

sunny 30 °C


I am in Mikumi, Tanzania and I need Margaret Atwood. She is good at making up words. What is the word for a screaming laugh? A screelaugh? Anyway, she could do better.

I’m looking for the word that describes the sound I made when I discovered the rather large bat flying around the bedroom I was sharing with Claudine Lowry, NSCC Dean of Organizational Learning, at 10:58 pm. The time was significant because that is exactly two minutes before the generator is turned off and the lights go out in the camp, and while the sight of this frantic bat flapping (another new word? Batflap?) around the room had me screelaughing very loudly, I was more freaked out by the thought of simply hearing the batflap in the pitch darkness. Right on time, not Swahili time, the lights went out and I tried desperately to go to sleep. Claudine and I have a history of wildlife interactions here – just check last year’s blog entries, so this is par for the course, but still led to a bad night of sleep.

All this was after an intense day in the Mikumi National Park guided by VETA Mikumi Tour Guiding faculty Ludovic Saronga and Patrick Kipinga and 24 of their students which ended with the sound of a leopard hunting impala next door to our cabin. Unlike last year, when NSCC Academic Chair Audrey Arsenault and I were the only one to hear the big African cat’s growl, this year the Masaai Askari (guard) heard it, and Jim Bate and Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) reps Lynn McDonagh-Hughes and Lisa Dahr heard it too!

Claudine, Jim, Lisa and Lynn and I are all here this week at VETA Mikumi to continue our work on the EFE project. Claudine is evaluating the impact of the CCEDP training for faculty here, Jim is working with the restaurant, conference centre and visitor information staff and faculty on entrepreneurship, and Lisa and Lynn are delivering an introductory “superhost” customer service and industry standards train the trainer session. I am working with the campus principal and various leaders here to plan completion of the final stages of the project.

More updates to come!

Katie Orr
Director, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 22:35 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

End of EFE Symposium

33 °C

February 24, 2012
A very hot day in White Sands, Tanzania as the symposium came to a successful end shortly after one with a number of recommendations to the stakeholders. After returning to the Hilton I had a meeting with the director of the hotel association of Tanzania to discuss the possibility of the Mikumi Campus joining the association. This would be a great networking opportunity for them.

I met up with Katie and Claudine in the late afternoon we met to put together another outline proposal for addition funding for an extension to the EFE project requested by ACCC, while waiting for the TIANS reps to arrive.

Jim Bate, NSCC International

Posted by NSCC Intl 01:32 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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