Voices From Abroad: Jazmin Murphy, “Tanzania”
(above: Jazmin Murphy, courtesy of Facebook)
From March to June of 2015, I took up residence in the East African country of Tanzania. Throughout my college years I’d dreamed of visiting an African country. I was never sure of which country, or even when I’d be able to go – that is until I joined Dr. Douglas McCauley’s Wildebeest Project. Nearly a year after joining, I was invited to join Dr. McCauley and Ph.D. student, Lacey Hughey, to conduct field research in one of the most species-rich lands on Earth: Serengeti National Park.
For two-and-a-half months I woke up to cape buffalo, giraffes and elephants outside of my home. I would fall asleep to the thundering roars of lions and eerie whooping calls of hyenas. Each day was filled with adventure: from sighting cheetahs, jackals and even rare animals such as aardwolves, to frequent standoffs with the baboons who unfortunately lived near our residence.
The women of Arusha, Tanzania would walk around town with heavy loads balanced on their heads. The babies on their backs would be wrapped in fabric with mesmerizing patterns. Women at the market in Serengeti, and many others for that matter, would speak to me in Swahili, since I appeared to be Tanzanian at first glance.
“I thought you were of [insert tribe/people here]…” everyone would admit.
Yet, when I opened my mouth to speak, it was made crystal clear how American I truly am! Learning greetings such as jambo (hello) and habari (how are you?), as well as how to count – moja, mbili, tatu… eased the task of communication. It also deepened my experience of the Tanzanian culture that they take great pride in.
From the rich, organic food to the daily dependence on rainwater for washing and cooking, my experience traveling abroad was life-changing. Tanzania, specifically the Serengeti, became a second home. It lit within me a fire for travel and adventure that will not soon be doused.