As I’m sitting in class thinking about how the only thing getting me through the next two weeks of school is summer, I’m reminiscing about my previous summer endeavors in 2018. I went to sleepaway camp for seven years since I was six to 13 years old. I loved every second of it. Being a performing arts camp, it was full of independence, growth, drama and personal responsibility. Last year, I decided I was “done” with going to camp. I didn’t want to be a '‘little kid” anymore going to sleepaway camp just like all the other kids. I wanted to do something different. Something memorable. Something special. Day in and day out, my mom and I were researching trips to go on, places to work, organizations to get involved in etc. We came across a community service trip to Tanzania, Africa. Suddenly, I was intrigued. I never thought of doing a community service trip or even considered going on 11 hour plane ride either. However, as I read the mission of Putney Student Travel, I myself was interested in following the same journey and mission they would hope to establish.
I chose to partake in the trip to Tanzania, Africa. A six week program based in a small village called Marurani. Three hours away from the airport, two hours away from the town; Marurani was located along the long and dry dirt paths of Tanzania. I’ve contemplated so many times writing this passage about my trip since it will be a year soon. However, now I’ve decided to share my experience because of how much it changed me. I know it’s cheesy, that I went on a community service trip and now I feel “changed”. But this trip was different. As a young photographer, I went there thinking I was going to capture every waking person, landscape and moment around me. My leaders were on the “stricter” side in regards to taking photographs so we don’t invade the kids or adults personal space. They also were more strict regarding photos because they didn’t want us to look like “white saviors” in the sense that we were going to post it all online of young little African babies. At first, I was frustrated because photography is my whole life and all I wanted to do was capture a new culture. As the trip went on, my frustration eased and I learned to respect the community and people that were starting to feel like a family and home.
The reason why I’m writing this is to address the fact that life is full of roadblocks and you have to adapt to wherever you are to enjoy and take in every memory and moment. I met this little girl there named, Mayema. She never spoke or say anything she would just hold my hand and give me hugs everyday after school. I never got to take her photo however, I have her small hand and face pictured in my brain which is strong enough for me to hold forever.