I spent this past summer living in a little town called Moshi, Tanzania (right at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro) for my International Development Studies (IDS) practicum. In Moshi I worked at the Msamaria Centre for Street Children, an organization that houses, clothes, and feeds children who are living on the streets for various reasons. I spent my days teaching English and Math, digging, planting and maintaining a vegetable garden, and spending time with the incredible group of children that lived at the centre and who dropped in on a regular basis.
The international practicum program is so important for both IDS and Conflict Resolution Studies students to take advantage of. It forces you to step way outside your comfort zone and experience a whole new way of life. Being involved in an international practicum challenges you to not only be an observer of a community but an active participant. You become a part of the local scenery and an active participant in the daily lives of the local people and that is an experience like none other. Being abroad also allows you the chance to travel and see the country from different angles. In Tanzania, I witnessed the catch of the day being reeled in from the beaches of Zanzibar, the mysterious and wild plains of the Serengeti, and got to see the line where Tanzania and Kenya meet from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
My international practicum in Moshi taught me more than my academic classes ever could because it challenged me to rely on my instincts and self-confidence and to apply all of my previous academic knowledge to real world situations. My practicum experience showed me hands-on the pros and cons of working in the development sector and reminded me that hope, love, and laughter are transcultural and ever-present around the globe. It was the most important experience I have ever had and I can't wait to go back and see it all again.
Jenn French is completing a 4-year IDS degree/3-year ANTH at Menno Simons College and the University of Winnipeg