So it is Christmas, and everyone is looking forward to meet their families, friends and loved ones. It is truly dear and amazing, to see the smiles, the lit faces of old and young! Christmas is here- Celebrations everywhere. I walk down the streets and it is so beautiful. All the trees are decorated, there are lights everywhere. Carols singing, women choosing gifts and the men toasting their glasses of wine for a great year. The smell of pie, cookies fill my nostrils, it is Christmas, Smiles everywhere.
It is Christmas at home too. It is Christmas in Tanzania. I throw back and see myself right there; a young girl happy for the holiday. She is looking at her mum smiling; she knows today they will eat a very good meal. There is nothing much happening and the little girl wants something to happen. She asks whether they will go out for some drinks or dinner and well- they will not! They will stay home for Christmas. She moves around the house, and there is nothing different. In her heart, she is wishing for a Christmas tree, or at least lights or maybe some joy feeling going around. Christmas was just like any other day except no one went to work. Christmas only meant a good meal- more meat, more rice, more drinks! She did not grow up believing in Santa, in fact she grew up thinking Santa lived abroad- that Santa did not deliver gifts for a girl like her, her house did not even have an address, how will Santa get there?! She only saw the joy of Christmas on television. Little she was, and all she wanted was a Christmas gift, a Christmas tree and some Christmas spirit!
Today, I am here and this is my first Christmas away from home, far away from home. I am very happy. I have seen the Christmas trees, I have received the Christmas gifts, and the Christmas joy is everywhere. However, I cannot stop myself from thinking of many other girls and boys back at home. Those who are now where I used to be; wishing that Christmas were different. I think of those whom Christmas does not even mean more food, those who Christmas to them is nothing at all. Those left in the streets, those abandoned, those suffering. I think of how they wish, how they hope that Christmas was little different, at least a different day. Those whose whole families have gone- who do they join this Christmas? Will this day be any different to them?
Come Merry Christmas- Come with all the Merry…Come to Everyone!!
The society has and still is seeking answers to the questions of what is just and unjust, and what is right and wrong. However, I have come to realize that, it is not the answers to these questions that matter, but the reasons as to why we ask these questions. Development and growth of societies has come along with different controversial issues such as dual citizenship, illegal immigrants and refugees, and conservation versus development. Through debating, reading and discussions in the Public Policy and Cultural Anthropology courses, I learnt that what is just and unjust varied between different groups and individuals. Moreover the rule of ‘majorities win’ is in itself unfair because the interests of minorities are ignored. So even democracy, which is the most popular ideology of fairness and equality, is promoting inequality in a sense that the minorities’ interests are depreciated. Hence one is not wrong in saying democracy is a quantitative ideology than a qualitative one. Thus, finding answers as to what is right and wrong will not solve these disputable issues, but I think that finding the reasons behind these questions could help us understand the roots of the problems.
Understanding the roots of these problems does not necessarily mean solving these problems, but it will help us to interpret and analyze the various interactions and relationships between communities, the environment and other bodies such as the government and non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, it is through the Ethics and Leadership Focus cluster that I discovered the inter-relationships that exist between different communities in relation to the environment. Significantly, I have learnt how these inter-relations work and how they affect different decision-making and livelihoods.
The Public Policy course explains how different national policies can affect other different groups of people in the country and outside the country, for example, if the US decides to outlaw dual citizenship, then millions of dual citizens in the US will have to give up their other citizenships hence other countries will lose their workforce, and the contributions that these dual citizens made to those countries. More interesting, the course challenged me to go deeper in researching and understanding how these policies came into place and how they have raised profound questions and discussions such as does a country need people with divided loyalties and allegiances and which country will dual citizenships support if their two countries were to go into a war or simply play a football game? The course began by exposing us in analyzing questions like ‘what is citizenship’ to more deeper discussions of ‘immigration policies and their effectiveness’. Also through these challenging discussions, I learnt more on how globalization plays a major role in fuelling movement, interactions and information.
It was through the development and growth of these movements and flow of information that places like Ecuador and Madagascar have been invaded with high influx of tourists, and mining companies as discussed in the Cultural Anthropology course. This course expanded my knowledge on societies interactions in relation to their environment. How different groups of people have different perspectives and how these differences in perspectives affect the use of resources. These discussions made me reflect back on the issues of the Public Policy course such as; what policies should be designed to balance the goals of democracy while valuing the rights of minorities like indigenous people, and on what grounds will these policies descend from? Most importantly it raised questions of how my decisions as an individual are shaped by the society, and the effect of these decisions.
The Ethics, Leadership and Global citizen focus cluster has helped me develop a deeper understanding of various issues facing the society, and a skill of viewing these issues from different perspectives. More over, it has helped me understand myself as an individual in relation to the community around me. Today, my identity is not only one single circle, which represents me as a Tanzanian, but a series of concentric circles which identify me as a woman, a student, and a global citizen. My home is not defined by political boundaries, but where I am and whom I identify as. In Tanzania, I am a Tanzanian, at Duke, I am a Duke student and anywhere in the world, I am a global citizen.
My desire and inspiration to be educated at a high level stems from being raised in an under-privileged environment. There were so many things I could not do and so much I never knew existed, yet I was aware that there was a bigger world out there, just waiting to be explored. In school, I learnt that being under-privileged exists only in one’s mind. It is how one uses available resources to create opportunities for himself or herself that matters. This is what inspires me to work hard, be it in class, in a specific field, or in community service. I want to earn my success and become a useful member of the Tanzanian community.
Duke would enable me to not only continue with my studies, but also learn about how to help my country from a global perspective. The knowledge and experience I will gain will become valuable tools in developing Tanzania, and convincing others to pursue higher education. The ability to think critically will enable me to recognize the challenges that Tanzania faces, and develop effective ways of solving them. The opportunity to intern at companies in Africa will help me to start initiating projects and running workshops. As my mother is retired, she cannot financially support me and so the pursuit of my dreams relies, as it always has, on me being resourceful.
I feel so fortunate to be where I am today, to have discovered the arts and a world of knowledge; a world in which, no matter what I do with my life, I want to continue sharing with those less fortunate than myself.
Just like the great Martin Luther, I also have a dream. A dream that one day the retired teacher at home whom I call ‘mother’ will have a tractor digging her farm instead of a hoe, a dream that my community will have light from electricity bulbs and not kerosene lamps, and that Tanzania will be on the least countries with corruption. IST has given me a great opportunity to share my dreams but also to hear other peoples’ dreams; people who come from different areas and different backgrounds. I came to realize that although we might have different stories, we all share common goals; goals of development, growth and positive change. As I was playing piano one day, I saw the way all my fingers moved in different directions but they all had the same aim of creating melody and harmony. It occurred to me that working as a team towards common goals could lead to realization of many dreams. Hence forth, I have become a link between my community and the International community. Most people in my village, community and country have great ideas on how to solve the problems facing our country but what they lack is confidence and skills to share their ideas. Inferiority complex has affected the confidence of many Tanzanians that their ideas are left unspoken and unheard. IST has given me an opportunity to learn and develop my confidence. I can present infront of the class and read a speech infront of the school. I aim to share these skills with my local community. Encouraging men and women to participate and speak out in debates and discussions. My personal goals are also to be able to share the knowledge and experiences with the local community. I believe this will enable those less fortunate than me to be able to expand their understanding and awareness of the problems and challenges we are facing. Incorporating the people experiencing these problems means getting more answers on how to overcome them. My aim is to be able to work with the groups that are mostly left out such as street children, and orphans, instead of big bodies such as non governmental organizations.