In October 2023, I embarked on a life-changing journey to Arusha, Tanzania, participating in a month-long field school focused on climate change and community resilience. When I first shared my plans with family and friends, the unfamiliarity of Tanzania elicited concern. However, as my experiences unfolded, their initial reservations transformed into joy, witnessing my growth and enthusiasm for learning.
From day one, the vast expanse of Aga Khan University's campus in Arusha embraced me with a sense of belonging and connection. The natural surroundings sparked creativity and provided the perfect backdrop for exploration. The entire experience surpassed description; it fulfilled a longing within me, and the warmth and hospitality of the AKU community only added to its charm.
The daily surprises were a testament to the rich educational journey. Each topic presented held my interest, and the immersive learning surpassed any expectations I had for a field school. An emotional pinnacle for me was the day we visited the Maasai village and connected with the wise elder, Alais. This encounter stirred a commitment to giving back to communities that resonated deeply within me. The LOMO safari stands out as a highlight, offering an incredible opportunity to delve into wildlife and national parks. The guides were not just knowledgeable but willingly answered every question, creating an enriching experience.
Aga Khan University emerged as a fount of knowledge on sustainable agriculture. The on-campus demo plots showcased sustainable, low-cost, and accessible practices that benefit local communities. Witnessing in-person training sessions conducted by farming educators, with translations from the AKU community outreach centre, provided a tangible understanding of sustainable agriculture. What made this experience exceptional was the immersive and informal education provided. The hands-on approach, absent from traditional classrooms, allowed me to absorb more in a month than I would in four months of conventional coursework. The simplicity of life in Arusha became a profound takeaway, highlighting the vibrancy of other communities often overlooked on a campus. Every field trip, especially the LOMO safari, and the engaging classes inspired a transformative shift in my perspective. My reflections have now spurred a desire to share my experiences, possibly through a book, as everything, from my way of thinking to living, has undergone a positive transformation. This field school has not only kindled a passion for research studies but has also deepened my interest in Indigenous studies. I'm now eager to pursue these studies in my degree, motivated by the potential to contribute meaningfully to the communities that have left an indelible mark on me.
The fact that the program fee was funded by Simon Fraser University speaks volumes about the commitment to fostering global learning experiences. The financial backing ensured that students from diverse backgrounds could participate, promoting inclusivity and diversity within the cohort. This support has not only enriched my personal and academic growth but also highlighted the importance of initiatives that make such life-changing opportunities accessible to a broader range of students.
In addition to the incredible experiences during the field school in Arusha, Tanzania, I want to express gratitude for the unique opportunity made possible through the Global Learning Award, funded by the Global Skills Opportunity. The financial support played a pivotal role in making this transformative journey a reality for me. It not only alleviated financial concerns but also allowed me to fully immerse myself in the program without the burden of worrying about expenses. The Global Learning Award has not only invested in my education but has also invested in the idea that knowledge and transformative experiences should be accessible to all aspiring learners. In the future, I hope to pay forward the support I received by actively contributing to initiatives that promote global education and awareness. This journey has not only broadened my academic horizons but has also instilled a sense of responsibility to advocate for the importance of such programs in shaping compassionate and globally conscious individuals. Another highlight of my field school was the classmates I met during my time in Arusha. They all have become great friends of mine. I feel so blessed to have them in my life now. We spent countless hours talking every day and had so much fun while learning. This field school also created a strong bond between students and professors, which does not happen in a formal classroom. My professors Dr David Zandvliet and Dr Emmanuel Sulle, made this trip all the better and learning. This experience would have not been possible without them.
In conclusion, the combination of the field school in Arusha, Tanzania, and the generous scholarship from the Global Learning Award has left an indelible mark on my academic and personal journey. It serves as a testament to the power of accessible education and the positive impact it can have on individuals and the communities they engage with every student should seize the opportunity to engage in a field school. Trust me; it has the power to change your life.