Immerse yourself in village life as you join local people to volunteer on community-initiated projects on this summer community service program in Tanzania, East Africa, for high school students. During the final week, enjoy a specially designed safari that combines world-class wildlife viewing in Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park with a stay at a remote Maasai village.
- June 26, 2013 - July 28, 2013
- July 6, 2013 - August 7, 2013
- Students completing grades 9-12
- Community Service
- Typical Group:
- 16-18 Students, 2 Leaders
- 4.5 week(s)
In this, our nineteenth summer in Tanzania, two separate volunteer projects will take place in agricultural villages outside the northern town of Arusha. Situated on the slopes of Mt. Meru, approximately 80 kilometers west of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the fertile Arusha area is well suited to agricultural production. The towns are close to many African national parks, including the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire. Working with local people on volunteer projects, immerse yourself in village life by helping complete community-initiated projects. You may build a classroom or simple housing for teachers at the school, improve a local water supply system, work on local farms — planting, harvesting, and selling crops at market, or help in an orphanage. Rise early and spend most of each day in small groups on the project sites. You also engage in an independent research project in your village. Possible topics include: how the village political structure functions, the role of music and dance in Tanzania, how ujamaa (villagization) shapes community interdependence, the role of women as the primary agricultural producers, tourism and the economy, and wildlife management. Late afternoons and evenings are usually devoted to group activities with friends in town: dances, soccer games, hikes, and dinner parties. Weekend excursions include visits to nearby farms and hikes into the surrounding hills. Upon successful completion of this volunteer program, you can expect to receive a certificate for 80-100 hours of community service.
“I sometimes wonder who gained more from my trip to Tanzania– me or the Tanzanians who I went to help. The work we did was meaningful and challenging, and I gained a great sense of accomplishment from it, but I think the experience as a whole changed me and made me a better person. I have a greater appreciation for the things I have—like electricity!—and I feel more down to earth, and able to just go with the flow when things don’t go as planned. This was an eye-opening experience, and one I could never have gotten anywhere else!”
– Taryn Samet, Choate Rosemary Hall, Sanibel, FL
The communities provide us with simple housing. There are separate areas for boys and girls, with bunk beds. While accommodations are not large, the housing is clean and comfortable. There is no electricity, but we have running water for simple showers. Bathrooms are outdoor latrines. Our groups are cared for by two wonderful, longtime friends of Putney Student Travel, Mama Killerai and Mama Latifa. “The Mamas,” as they call themselves, along with some of their friends, nurture our groups for the month, shopping for us and cooking our dinners. You rotate periodically through cooking and cleaning crews responsible for preparing breakfast and lunch for the group and assisting the Mamas with dinner.
Spend the final week of the summer community service program on a safari organized by close friends of Putney, who introduce you to Tanzania’s fascinating tribal culture, wildlife, and history. The safari lasts six days and includes a stay in traditional hunting lands as guests of the Maasai tribe, complete with a reception by a village elder and a traditional feast held in our group’s honor. Guides introduce you to Tanzania’s abundant wildlife in Tarangire National Park, where you can view animals up close. The safari continues to Ngorongoro Crater, where guides take you on an expedition into the ten-mile-wide crater. Driving through grassland, swamps, and along lakes and rivers, you safely encounter lions, zebras, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, monkeys, flamingos, wildebeest, jackals, and hyenas.
The program culminates with the presentation of independent projects around the campfire while on safari, and a joyous farewell celebration back in the village, where you join with your new friends to recognize the work accomplished, and to bid farewell.
- Help build a village classroom that will accommodate fifty students.
- Join Tanzanian families as they plant and harvest their crops.
- Volunteer at a local orphanage.
- Explore the ten-mile-wide Ngorongoro Crater.
- Spot lions, monkeys, and elephants and stay in a Maasai village on a six-day safari.
What to Expect
For most of each weekday, we are actively involved in community service work. This work, as well as afternoon and weekend activities, can be demanding and you can expect to spend most of each day outside. Everyone participates in all of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. Since we live in our village as the local people do, accommodations are very simple with separate space for boys and girls, and basic bathroom facilities. You should come to the program with an open-mind, eager to participate in new experiences and interested in exploring another culture and way of life.
At Putney we take pride in our reputation for careful, thorough planning and attention to detail. The descriptions of our high school summer programs are based on our experiences in previous summers and our plans for this summer. It is inevitable that some things described here will not happen exactly as presented. To get the most out of the Putney experience, participants need to be flexible in responding to unforeseen situations, and creative in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We expect Putney participants to share responsibility for the success of their experience.
Putney organizes escorted international flights. Please consult us for fares.
Learn about last year’s program by reading the 2012 Community Service Tanzania Blog.
Departure • Join the group as you begin a month of village-based community service in rural Northern Tanzania. The group flight departs from JFK Airport where you meet one of your leaders and fly to Kilimanjaro Airport outside Arusha, Tanzania.
Our Host Village • Travel by truck the short distance to our host village in the foothills of Mount Meru. Here, we live together as a group as we collaborate with local people and undertake several important service projects.
Weekend Excursions • Take weekend excursions to stay in lodges in the hills near Mt. Kilimanjaro and to a cultural center where friends of Putney Student Travel introduce you to traditional Maasai culture. Participate in music, dance, batik, beading, and cultural exchange.
“Every single day in Tanzania was a highlight: seeing the progress we made on the worksite each day, group campfires at night, the safari week, seeing the village kids’ smiling faces everyday… One of my favorite memories from my trip happened on our second day in the village. Walking home from the school, three little boys came running up to me, held my hand, and walked me all the way home. Even though our conversation was limited, they were so happy to be with me and so entertained by everything I did. It was an amazing start to my trip and something I will never forget.”
– Jake Goldberg, Clarkstown South Senior High School, New City, NY
Safari • The summer community service program culminates with a six-day cultural and wildlife safari in private lands of the Maasai Tribe and in national parks that are world-renowned for their wildlife: Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and Ngorongoro Crater.
Return • Fly with your group and a leader from Tanzania to New York and continue on to your final destination.
This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.
Background • Tanzania’s welcoming people, cultural vitality, and extraordinary natural beauty make it a favorite destination for travelers. A well-established democratic government and a widely respected system of public education are the keys to Tanzania’s reputation as a stable, safe country. Comprised of over 120 different ethnic groups, Tanzania’s people rely heavily on agriculture for both subsistence and livelihood. The country boasts abundant wildlife, and Tanzanians pride themselves on their rich natural resources and peaceful history. Our Tanzania programs return this year to two villages located on the fertile lower slopes of Mt. Meru, near the safari center of Arusha in Northern Tanzania. Our two Tanzania programs are independent but the experiences in each of the villages are similar.
Population • The population of Tanzania is approximately 45 million, but most of those people are clustered in the capital city of Dar es Salaam, which we do not visit. Arusha, the largest city near our program villages, has about 1.5 million people. Each of our project villages is small, home to roughly 8,000 people who are spread throughout a large rural area.
Language • While each of the 120 ethnic groups in the nation has its own dialect, KiSwahili is the language spoken by the majority of Tanzanians. The program includes basic instruction in survival KiSwahili. Higher education is conducted in English, thus many older people speak English.
“This program met and exceeded our highest hopes. It was everything that makes Putney trips magical! Emma gained incredible perspective on her life vis a vis the lives of others, and gained a tremendous sense of accomplishment from the work they did, the place they stayed, and the hikes they went on. She had a life-changing experience. Thank you!!!”
– Christi and Tom Hagemann, Houston, TX
Climate • Tanzania is situated on the equator, and weather conditions do not vary greatly through the year. During our visit, it is dry (Tanzania has been in a cycle of drought for many years) and comfortable. The sun is powerful. Temperatures rise to the 70s during the day, and drop to the 50s at night. On safari, one or two nights are spent at higher altitude, where temperatures can drop to the 40s.
Cuisine • Food in Tanzania is varied, with curries, grilled meat, and plenty of tropical fruit and vegetables. There is an Indian influence, with particular appreciation of breads, like chapati and naan. Western influence is also seen in the availability of pastas and cereals.
Currency • Tanzania uses the Shilling (TZS). We change money in banks on visits to Arusha. ATM machines are also available in Arusha.
Voltage • Electric current is 220V, and plugs are types D&G: large round three-pin and large flat three-pin heads, respectively. Electricity is scarce in the villages; we rely on the DC outlets in our Land Rover to charge cameras and phones. Solar chargers and extra batteries are helpful.
Visa • Tanzania requires a tourist visa for entry and students also need a “work permit” to complete community service projects. Putney provides detailed guidelines on obtaining both of these. The combined cost of the documents comes to close to $500.
The Community Service Tanzania program is directed by Karen Phillips. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our high school summer programs abroad, please get in touch!
Karen Phillips: St. Lawrence University, B.A., French. Karen caught the travel bug in high school while on a music tour through Europe, and later studied abroad in Switzerland, France, and Senegal. She has led Putney’s Language Learning and Community Service programs in France and Senegal, and coordinates programs in Europe and Africa. Her interests include rock climbing, painting, yoga, and running.
How To Apply
STEP 1: LOG ON.
STEP 2: HOLD A SPACE IN THE PROGRAM.
You can hold a space in a program by completing the Online Application Form, submitting a signed Agreement Form, and providing the $700 Application Deposit by Mastercard, Visa, or Discover Card through our secure online system or by sending a check to our office. Our admissions staff is also available to take credit card information over the phone. We will hold a space in a program for a reasonable time, pending completion of the full application process. See Step 3.
After March 15, we will hold a space temporarily as above, but we must receive full payment by check or wire transfer within three days to continue to hold a space in the program.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION PROCESS.
Before we can make a final admissions decision, an application must be complete. In addition to the Application Form and Application Deposit described above, a complete application includes:
- Applicant Statement - Attach a statement explaining why you would like to join a Putney program and what you feel you can contribute to it. Your application cannot be processed without this statement. Approximately 150–300 words is sufficient. Global Action applicants’ statements must be 300-500 words addressing these questions, and detailing their interest and/or experience in the country and issues on which they wish to focus.
- Two Teacher Reference Forms
These documents are available as part of our Online Application. We review a completed application within a few days, and notify families of our admissions decision by e-mail.