Ninth Grade Four Point 2019: Tanzania

March 20, 2019

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Asante Sana, Gould Academy!

Our 2019 Tanzanian Four Point experience ended a few days ago.  What an amazing trip it was! Filled with gratitude and awe, we return having learned so much about the people and culture of Tanzania as well as ourselvesA common theme for all grades in the Four Point Program is embarking on a journey of self-discovery and immersion is the main focus for ninth graders. Hopefully clear throughout theses blog posts, the opportunities for self-discovery and our immersion into the Tanzanian culture and the Tumaini Senior and Junior schools were a huge success.

It was truly our pleasure to travel with these seven wonderful students and fair to say that we witnessed each of them step out of their comfort zone into a host of new experiences and spread their wings.  Our last few days in Tanzania were awesome!  We hope you enjoy this collection of photos and highlights from these final days.

(Wednesday, 13 March)

On Wednesday, we picked up the Gould and Tumaini students from their homestays and headed for our safari in the Ngorongoro Crater.  This huge caldera, which formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago, is home to approximately 25,000 large animals. It is over 2000 feet deep with a floor that measures over 100 square miles. Needless to say, the safari was awesome!  At the end of the day we left the crater and moved onto Lake Eyasi where we “glamped” for two nights.

Team photo – happy to be on safari together

The excitement in the safari vans was rising as we took in the beautiful views and drove down into the crater.

We have learned so much from our safari guides. These birds’ nests hang far enough down from the limbs of the acacia tree to protect the eggs and baby birds from snakes.

It was a hot and hazy day on safari.

Did you know that the stripes of a zebra provide a natural cooling system?

We saw hundreds of African water buffalo in the crater. Weighing up to 1900 pounds, they can be very aggressive and travel in herds of up to 1,000.

Perhaps one of the most exciting moments in the crater for us was when a herd of water buffalo charged a lion pride to get to the water. We could see them lining up in the distance. 

The water buffalo meant business. It was incredible and happened so fast!

Vastly outnumbered, the lions seemed resigned to move on.  If the ratios were different, we may have witnessed a very different scene.

So close – so amazing!

The animals are unfazed by the vans driving through. Our guides told us that it would be a different story if we stepped out of the vans.

These curious hippos spend most of their days in the water, to stay cool and comfortable, and can travel up to five miles at night.

Taking a break after our ascent out of the crater – onward to Lake Eyasi!

Our “glamping” tents at Lake Eyasi were luxurious – each fully equipped with beds, linens, lights, a toilet and shower.

(Thursday, 14 March)

Thursday was a busy day! We started the day with our guide, Husson, taking us to meet a family of the Datoga tribe, an indigenous group of skilled farmers and craftsmen.  In the afternoon, we visited the Lake Eyasi Girls’ Vocational Training Center, the Lake Eyasi Health Center, and a nearby lodge where we were able to go swimming and have some fun. The girls’ school was started by Lightness Bayo in 2009 for young women unable to attend secondary school because of pregnancy or other factors such as low school performance or lack of funds.  Since 2009, 120 young women have benefited from this program with several going on to further their education to become teachers and nurses.  Lightness has also played an instrumental role in the building of the Lake Eyasi Health Center.  Opening for business in 2017 and still under construction, it has served over two thousand patients.

Husson, brother to Lightness Bayo, shares his knowledge and insights regarding the Datoga and their habitat.

The Datoga’s livestock consist of cattle and goats.  The milk is collected in a hollowed gourd and hung outside one of the huts for their next meal.

Jacky and Ryan hold back this calf while its mother is being milked.

Here’s Cathy bottle feeding an orphan calf.

This family’s homestead was encased by a fence made of bushes.

The Datoga build huts from wood sticks and seal them with cow dung.

A collection of maize they have grown and harvested – ready to be milled into flour in one of the huts, on a long flat stone.

The Datoga typically dress in oranges and reds. The women’s skirts and dresses are beautifully adorned with elaborate beadwork.

This Datoga family had about 20 members, ranging in age from an elderly grandmother down to these little ones.

The Datoga are talented blacksmiths. We watched them melt down a collection of metals that were then made into jewelry, arrowheads and knives.

Tapping away at this arrowhead to make its intricate jagged edge – the Datoga will sell these to the Hadzabe for hunting.

Visiting the school, learning about the cultural differences and challenges for these young women, and gaining a deep appreciation for Lightness’ passion and accomplishments.

Touring the Lake Eyasi Health Center gave us an appreciation of the basic health care needs of the people of this area.  We left wondering what we might do to help support their efforts.

The Health Center is currently staffed by three doctors and six nurses. It is equipped with a modest pharmacy and laboratory.

Our day ended with a drive down to Lake Eyasi for a walk on the beach and a beautiful sunset. 

After heading back to camp for a delicious dinner, we sat around the campfire enjoying s’mores and sharing reflections about our common read, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.”

(Friday, 15 March)

Our last day in Tanzania started before the sun rose to greet us.  We loaded the vans and were off to meet the Hadzabe. This second indigenous tribe lives in the bushlands of the Rift Valley by Lake Eyasi.  Nomadic hunters and gatherers, they welcomed us for the morning and shared their skills of fire starting and hunting.  Their simple, primitive lifestyle gave us much to ponder.

After a morning with the Hadzabe, it was time to pack up and begin our journey home.  We returned to Karatu to collect our belongings and our newly made goods at the tailor’s.  A quick stop at a Masai market with Madame Selena and on we went to Makuyuni to drop off our hosts at TSS and say our last good-byes.

Our two week journey to Tanzania has come to a close. Our hearts and minds are overflowing with rich, precious moments of learning, love and experiences we will always remember.

Good Bye & Thank You So Much, Tumaini Schools and Tanzania! – Kwaheri & Asante Sana!

Thank You, Gould, for this amazing experience!

*** Scroll down a couple days to see the safari pix we just added to “Big Mammals, Big Day!  On safari at Tarangire National Park,” from Sunday, 10 March 2019 (for Friday, 8 March), and thanks for waiting!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sara Shifrin checking in for a guest post from Tanzania

I am happy to be in Karatu with the Gould trip. I’ve been a host and guide to alumni Madison Lamar and his father, Charlie. We’ve spent the last few days seeing the Gould trip in action, engaging with the library programs that Gould has fostered, and witnessing the powerful experiential education approach to the Four Point program.

On Monday, the day was ‘full on’ at TJS, with the primary/middle school. Mr. Jimmy, a TJS teacher, coordinated a unique program for the Gould students.  After waking up from the first night of homestay, all the students met at school at the library. This was an opportunity to check in and debrief the first night as well as spend a day helping at the school.  Quickly, students were integrated into different classrooms to observe, play, and lead.  At one point, each Gould student led a small reading group alongside their host. Then, it was onto blowing bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk, and playing basketball.  At the end of the day, all were ready to return to the host family for rest!

tanzania classroomTuesday was a day to learn about the daily life of a Tanzanian. All students were visited by Mr. Jay and Madame Pat and then experienced family chores. While some learned to wash clothes in buckets, others learned to feed animals and others how to cook in a kitchen very different from what they expected—some outside and some with only two propane burners. These experiences stretch each student—and the stretch develops empathy and understanding for the diversity of lifestyles in the modern world.

Madison and I were lucky to visit Joe at his homestay. Joe remarked that he appreciates the kindness of his host and values the experience of helping and being helped. His homestay highlight was visiting his host’s grandmother, who lives in a traditional mud house. She taught Joe a traditional song and dance.

Tuesday was also time for a little fun!

Pat Donovan shared a piky-piky with Madison on our way for a staff lunch to debrief the experience to date and to plan out the next few days. Their smiles says it all! Tanzania is full of love, laughter, and good times!

The Gould group heads out on another safari toward the Ngorogoro Crater —they might see the endangered baby rhinos— and to visit the D’atoga tribe—a traditional tribe who makes arrowheads for the Hadzabe tribe, who we visit the next day.

Moving forward, the internet will be unpredictable. But, as they say in Tanzania, “haminashida” — it will be okay.  We will be back in touch as soon as we can!

Safari n’jema!

Kwahiri & Asante Sana, TSS!!!
(Good-Bye &Many Thanks!)

Monday, 11 March 2019 (for Saturday & Sunday, 9 & 10 March)

Kwahiri, Tumaini Senior Secondary School! – Jambo, Karatu & Homestays!

Kwahiri, Farewell & Badai (see you later), Tumaini Senior Secondary School! – Asante Sana!!!


It’s hard to believe our experience in Tanzania is half over. On Saturday, we woke up to another beautiful, sunny day. We packed our bags, said our Asante Sana’s, and hit the road with our Tumaini hosts.  Our first stop was at Bead by Bead, a Masai women’s cooperative in Makuyuni, where the women demonstrate and sell their beautiful beaded wares of jewelry, baskets, boxes, placemats, animals, and more.

After enjoying beading lessons and purchasing a few items, it was time to move along and head to Karatu, two hours away. Enroute, we were surprised and delighted when the buses pulled over at a soccer match that our TSS friends were playing in.  What a blast it was to watch them in action – they are GOOD, VERY GOOD! (as was their opponent!) Expecting to win this game, they will then move on to the regional tournament. Great soccer and great kids on a modest field, playing their hearts out.  It was hard to leave!

We moved on to Karatu. The Tumaini students went to their homes and the Gould students to the “volunteer house” at Happy Days to regroup and get ready for the homestays.  It was important and nice to have some time together to reflect on the past week and think about what’s ahead.

Here are just a few snapshots ….

Making rings at Bead by Bead with the Masai women – Everyone gained an appreciation for their meticulous work and patience.  If it takes this much time and patience to make a ring, how about the necklaces and other elaborate pieces?

On the road and on our way…

It was a treat to stop by to see the Tumaini’s boys’ soccer team competing against one of their rivals.

On the field, waiting for the whistle for the game to resume – TSS in yellow shirts.

Margaret and Neema

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the full game or to watch the girls play. Nonetheless, our friends, Margaret and Neema, were very happy to see us, if only to wish them luck. Neema is the Tumaini student whose TSS tuition has been funded by Gould students’ through Sa-Kred Café and other fundraising activities over the past two years, led by Mia Shifrin.

It was hard to leave but our itinerary demanded we keep moving.

On the road again …. Karatu, here we come! (Yellow bus filled with Gould and Tumaini Senior students and teachers)


Jambo, Karatu and Homestays!

Today, Gould students were brought to their homestays to meet their family and see their new home for the next few days.  The families are wonderful, warm and excited to have our students stay with them.  You could see the kids relax as they were greeted with hugs and warm welcomes.  (Ryan was feeling under the weather, so we decided to have him spend one more day with us at the volunteer house and rest up for his homestay drop off tomorrow. Mom and Dad, he has napped much of the day and is feeling much better this evening. We’ll post his photo tomorrow, after he meets his family.)

Caroline starts her homestay – Caroline, Mama Helen, her host, Anna and her aunt.  They have a beautiful home with lots of gorgeous flowers, right across from a small elementary school and soccer fields.

Jacky with part of his new family, Mama Angeline, little brother and sister, Tumaini friend John Paul, and his host, Pascal (far right). This family of seven has a beautiful farm with several livestock and fields full of lush vegetables.

Dali felt instantly at home with his host, Rogathe, Mama Caroline, little brother, and his buddy.  When we dropped off Dali, Mama was preparing lunch, cooking beef on a stove in their outside kitchen. We learned she owns a popular shop in town that we plan to visit.

Paige got right to it with her host, Careen, cutting up vegetables for lunch. (Mama Carolyn had just stepped out to check on her shop – we’ll get the family photo tomorrow.)

Joe and his TZ family – Good Luck’s brother, Joe, Mama Joyce & Good Luck (who indeed ran in the Ngorongoro Run to fight malaria!) Mama Joyce was cooking lunch outside when we arrived, a delicious mix of sardines, tomatoes and greens.

Catherine’s parents, Cathy, Carolina and Catherine  – Cathy was our last student to drop off.   Well worth the wait, her family and new home were lovely. They live in a compound that a doctor owns with several homes, lots of trees and flowers.

Success! It was a wonderful, comforting and heartwarming day.  Parents, please know that your children are being well taken care of and embracing the wonderful opportunities before them. Tomorrow, we will meet all the students at The Tumaini Junior School. After checking in with everyone, we will spend some time with the little ones in the library reading and playing games, visiting classes, and playing sports with them.  We sure are having an unbelievable time together – so lucky and so blessed!

Best wishes to all!
Pat & Jay

Once again, we continue to have trouble with the internet connection and are told it will be better in the morning.  Hopefully, we can hit a few buttons and send it out.  We also hope to be sending the safari photos. (It is now Monday and we are hitting send – hooray!)

Big Mammals, Big Day!
On safari at Tarangire National Park

Sunday, 10 March 2019 (for Friday, 8 March)

What a day of safari wildlife amazement we had on Friday, driving through Tarangire National Park. 

It is mid-March and we are only four degrees south of the equator, so the mid-day sun is straight overhead. 

The rainy season has just begun; periodic showers fill rivers and brooks; then the rains blossom the crispy browns and tans of the savannah into an infinite green pasture, sloping eastward towards the Indian Ocean and rising westward towards the mountains that define the beginning of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. 

Animals are on the move, no longer confined to riverbanks and mud holes for water supply. 

John Paul already knew a lot about his country’s wildlife, so spending the day with Guide Peter allowed him to ask revealing questions to learn even more.

Our three guides know so much about the animals and their habits that every few minutes seem like a full day in a Biology class.

Joe, Caroline, Paige (looking east!), Ryan, Rogathe, Jacky and Dali

Our early start paid off.  We sought and found animals all morning, drove to a promontory for a picnic lunch followed by a few more hours of seek and find.  Here are the up-close-and-personal viewing results!

Dik-dik – a spaniel-sized, cute little antelope

Impala here, and we also saw some Grant’s gazelles and wildebeest


How many baboons can you count?!


Darker, male giraffe on the left and his mate on the right

Warthog (Pumba!)

See the baby, hiding beneath the tusks of the mom in front?

A beautiful lion family

Velvet Monkey

And we saw butterflies (free), birds — small and large and in between, with beaks that were pointed, round, raptor-hooked, and flat duckbills… red birds, black birds, multi-colored birds, parrots, iridescent blue, vultures (circling over a dead elephant), a duck family waddling.

Ostriches in a no-fly zone, cooperating

Cathy enjoying shade with a view!

Cathy, Dali, and Rogathe

Careen, Paige, Caroline, and Anna

Gould and Tumaini Schoolchildren asked questions about animals, gawked at the beauty, pointed at the sights, wore out batteries, memory cards, and themselves, and laughed with each other until the homeward-bound napping on the short ride back to Tumaini Senior School.  Drowsy and happy, we enjoyed another hearty dinner and a bedtime bonfire.

Team Building – Service Learning – One World, One Family

March 7, 2019 – Thursday at Tumaini Senior School

Today we were very BUSY at the Tumaini Senior Secondary School. We spent the day working together with our TSS friends carrying books to the new library, sorting and labeling them, moving shelves and tables, AND also measuring and laying down the lines on a new outdoor basketball court. Needless to say, it was an excellent combo of work and play.  It was team building and service learning at its best!

Cathy and her hosts, Catherine and Carolina, sorting and labeling

Cathy and her hosts, Catherine, and Carolina sorting and labeling

Proud girls (Caroline, Anna, Careen, and Paige) after loading up some of the shelves

Proud girls (Caroline, Anna, Careen, and Paige) after loading up some of the shelves

Ummm, let's just say there was plenty of fun being had in midst of working.

Ummm, let’s just say there was plenty of fun being had in the midst of working.

Jacky, Joe, Dali, and Rogathe moving those shelves

Peach for "series" - Paige and Careen having a peachy time!

Peach for “series” – Paige and Careen having a peachy time!

Baba Jay and his crew, Dali, Caroline, Mr. Chitanda, and many TSS helpers

Laying down the lines! Caroline was making sure measurements were accurate!

Dali taking a break, looking over the soccer field to the mountains

Dali taking a break, looking over the soccer field to the mountains

In the middle of the day, everyone stopped to celebrate the opening of the new library.  There were speeches, ribbon cutting, music, a Masai “goat roast”, beautiful traditional Masai singing and dancing performed by some of the TSS students. There are 20 Masai students at TSS out of 280.

Traditional Masai singing and dancing

Traditional Masai singing and dancing

Did you know that there are 132 tribes in Tanzania? – And, each has its own language, many related to Swahili.  We are learning so much about the Tanzanian people and their culture.

Madison sharing his love and reminding them all to read, read, read

Checking out the new library

Checking out the new library

Sara Shifrin ’88 and Modest Bayo, Founder and Director of the Tumaini Schools

The new library was made possible because of the generosity of Madison Lamar ’07, former student and advisee of Sara Shifrin ’88.  Through his connection with Sara, Madison learned about the Tumaini Schools and the need for a library at the senior school.  Madison wanted to help,  opened his heart, and made it happen. And, we were lucky enough to be there to witness the grand opening.  Madison, his father, Charlie, Sara, and Carol Hall P’09 were the special guests of honor.  The whole experience was pretty amazing – our hearts were bursting with Gould pride and love!

Madison meeting and talking books with some of the TSS students

Madison meeting and talking books with some of the TSS students

(We are sending this a day late and will be late again with today’s (Friday) blog. Wait till you read that one! We were on safari for the day at the Tarangire National Park.)

Good night!

Pat & Jay

Jambo from Tanzania!

March 6, 2019, Wednesday evening in Tanzania

Goodbye and many thanks to Mama Simba and Experience Tanzania!

Goodbye and many thanks to Mama Simba and Experience Tanzania!

Thirty hours and a couple continents later, our happy, weary, curious group of nine (seven students, two faculty) found a warm welcome from Gould’s friend, Mama Simba,  at the Experience Tanzania Lodge near Arusha, Tanzania, on Monday night.  Our students were champion travelers, keeping a good spirit through long flights, a cramped plane from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro airport, and customs delays.

At 10 pm on Monday evening, we had no trouble eating Mama Simba’s amazing buffet, prepared completely from locally grown spiced ground beef, zucchini-carrot-lemon-ginger soup, roasted veggies, avocado salad, and rice.  Tanzania imports very little food, a lucky consequence of a lush and predictable growing season.  All the food Mama Simba and Mama D (one of her 26 siblings!) prepare is locally sourced (except rice) from their town’s fresh-food market.  We were tired and slept well… ok, so there were some rooster neighbors, barking dogs, and morning prayer broadcasts that made for memorable interruptions!

After our Tuesday-morning amble about the village, we bussed to our home for the week at the Tumaini Senior Secondary School, outside of Makuyuni, Tanzania.  Gould ninth-graders visited Tumaini first seven years ago, thanks to the thoughtful and proactive engagement by past Gould parents and Trustees, Carol Hall and Frank Lee.  Along with local legend Modest Bayo, they developed Tumaini Education Corporation into a triple-location, bustling private school with several hundred students.

Gould kids met their Tumaini hosts, enjoyed ice-breaking welcoming activities, and walked bravely into Tuesday’s African night, snuggling two or three to a tent (with beds and mattresses!), amidst the beauty of Tumaini’s campus.

Paige, Caroline, and Cathy with their hosts, Careen, Anna, Catherine and Carolina

Jacky, Pascal and John Paul interviewing each other

Goodluck and Joe getting to know each other

Gould’s ninth-grade curriculum teaches that authors write stories to share their ideas.  Today, Wednesday, Gould students went in search of the local stories of Tumaini School’s neighbors in Makuyuni.  Their assignment was to discover Tanzania through the stories of its people.  Each Gould student and their host interviewed residents, discovering local habits, stories, problems, and dreams, as they learned about Tanzania through its people.  Back at school this afternoon, each small group presented stories.  Responding to the needs shared by their new acquaintances, they also devised plans for how they might one day help make some of those dreams come true.

Tumaini and Ryan posing with the shopkeeper that they interviewed and then helped stock and dust shelves.

Tumaini and Ryan posing with the shopkeeper that they interviewed and then helped stock and dust shelves.

Caroline and Paige keeping up with daily journaling assignments.

Group journaling after a great  morning interviewing and listening to the stories of the townsfolk of Makuyuni.

Group journaling after a great morning interviewing and listening to the stories of the townsfolk of Makuyuni.

If you have children traveling with us, know that they are all well, smiling, and learning so much.  It has been wonderful traveling with them and sharing this amazing experience.  They are wonderful! Our internet access is a bit cumbersome here, so thanks for your patience for this first update!  

Over and Out,
Mama Pat & Baba Jay (our given names from our local hosts) – aka Pat Donovan & Jay Riley

Pre-Trip: Are You Ready?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

In a few days, we’ll have ninth graders all over the world in China, Ecuador, Peru, and Tanzania as they take part in their first Gould Four Point experience. Seven students will be in Tanzania throughout the month learning about the country, staying with local families, visiting schools, and immersing themselves in the culture there.

Students have been working on various topics related to their destinations in their History and English classes. They have also been preparing their journals, packing their bags, and thinking about all of the things they might learn on through this experience. Our older students who have already completed a Ninth Grade Four Point trip look back on their experience and say, “I learned more than I ever thought I would!”

We can’t wait to hear what this year’s students have to say about their experience.

Keep up to date with their trip by following this blog. Trip leaders will do their best to post updates regularly.



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