Monday, August 29, 2011

Arusha Food Network!

Well, my aunt Catherine had a terrific suggestion that I document and describe what kind of food I’m enjoying here in TZ! I’ve been diligently photographing many of my meals in the past week, and here I am to bring you another piece of my life (and food!). These have all become pretty typical meals I have here:

We get fresh bread each week made by our house-helper, Amena! The house always smells like heaven when she’s baking it!

Sunday: Lunch- Alison cooked delicious greens, tomatoes, onions, and spices! Grilled cheese, and banana chips!

Monday: Breakfast- fresh mango, toast with raspberry jam, papaya juice, yogurt

Tuesday: Dinner- Ethiopian food, aka YUM!!! A lentil dish and a cabbage/carrot dish. Super yum. With Savannah Cider to drink. Oh, and I love Tiana trying to escape the photo there on the right!

Wednesday: Lunch- we have lunch served to us every day at ISM where we teach. It’s a different vegetarian meal each day and they’re always great. Here we have lentil curry, rice, oranges, salad

Thursday: Breakfast- home-made fresh strawberry yogurt (made by our own Amena), sweet cornbread (also made by Amena), mango juice

Friday: Dinner- Alison again made delicious combination of fresh veggies and beans (canned, ok we’re lame), also with brown rice

Saturday: Lunch- grilled cheese with fresh avocado, greens with spices and onions. Sorry, we’re not sure what ‘greens’ these are exactly, it’s a local Tanzanian vegetable!

Sunday: Snack- ok, we had to splurge while we went into town. Mocha milkshake and “Caribbean onion and balsamic vinegar chips”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Settling In

Hello every one,

Quick update- things are going great here and every day brings a new adventure! I like my Fridays the most here because I teach very easy hours, and it’s of great variety: violin group class (where I conduct), a flute lesson, and a piano lesson. It makes it much more interesting to change up the instruments! Last night (friday) Alison and I went out with Liza for one last nice quiet dinner with her before she leaves on Monday. We had incredibly delicious pizza at this wonderful outdoor restaurant/art gallery called Masai CafĂ©. It was a truly beautiful evening, as it is getting warmer each night and the stars come out in the clear night sky. Afterwards, we went to another terrific restaurant called the Blue Heron for drinks and to hear the live music. We were surprised to see a bunch of American-sounding musicians playing blue-grass sounding Bob Marley music. While we were there, we saw three of our students, a parent of the students, and about 6 other people we already knew! It’s starting to feel more familiar all the time. We also met up with a couple of guys who are staying in Arusha- one is working here for a year or so and we met his mom on the airplane on our flight over here! Then, we noticed that one of the guitarists in the band was none other than one of our fellow music teachers at Umoja, Bob! We went up and talked with the band when they were done and they were very excited to know some more musicians in the area—we plan to jam with them some time or perhaps even do some performances! I’m also looking at trying to revive something that Umoja used to do when Liza first started the organization: song-writer’s nights! There are a number of venues that, we are told, would love to host the song writer’s nights again. It’d make me practice some more guitar and write more songs, too!

Unfortunately, this morning I awoke around 5am to some pretty awful stomach pains. I was awake feeling sick for some time and was very upset that I couldn’t attend the parent-teacher meeting we were having for our Umoja outreach students this morning! Alison went, however, and said the meeting went well. I’m up now and feeling much better, but still eating lightly. It’s an absolutely gorgeous day here—the sun is out and shining! Oh, also very good news: my mom may get to come visit me here in November! I sure hope it works out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Running in the Coffee Fields

Sorry for the delay in blogging- as expected, the days have gotten quite a bit busier with work and meeting people and exploring the area. There’s quite a bit to tell, I suppose.

A quick update: the weekend was a social one, what with moving into our new home and settling in. Saturday night we went out to a club called Velocity for a big birthday party. Apparently there is a man here who cuts hair who is very eccentric and quite famous in the community. It was his birthday party and the club was packed all to celebrate him! He had some crazy green hair or something wild. At one point at the club, in true Arusha fashion, all of the power went out. It was pretty funny and everyone cheered in the pitch black darkness. I held onto my little purse tighter. Suddenly every one broke out into singing ‘happy birthday.’ It was a hoot! Drinks here are super cheap, like a few dollars, but we later realized that they watered down the alcohol. Good trick, bar tenders!

Sunday, Liza invited us to her friend’s engagement party which was held in another friend’s beautiful back yard. It was walking distance from our house! So, we headed out onto our dirt road to explore and get our shoes a little dirty. There are many people selling things up and down our street in little shops, so we bought a coke and some house necessities from a couple of stores. There are some delicious looking fruits and veggies being sold which we’re going to try soon. The engagement party was fun and we met more people to hopefully become friends with here in Arusha!

Monday (yesterday) was a crazy Monday again—my Monday’s are packed with two group lessons right in the middle of them. These group lessons consist of about 4-8 kids, ages ranging from 6-14 yrs old. It’s lots of fun and I learn a lot about teaching, but I’m certainly a bit tired afterwards and then I go on to teach for a few more hours in private lessons. Monday night, Alison made a delicious sauce with a bunch of different vegetables which we had with spaghetti. Fresh mango for dessert. My aunt Catherine had a terrific suggestion the other day that I write in my blog about what we’re eating. Well, all this week I’ve been taking pictures of our awesome meals, so next week expect to see some about that.

Today, Alison and I went to work early to go for our first Arusha jog! Guess where it was that we ran? In the coffee fields behind the school where we teach! It was terrific—the mornings here are pretty cool (in the 60’s) so it was perfect temperature, we pretty much had the path to ourselves, and we had the quiet sounds of birds and cows in the fields around us to keep us company. It felt great to get out and do some exercise again! In addition to piano lessons, I did voice lessons today which are going well and I’m enjoying very much! The songs I picked for these two girls are: Girl from Impanema, I Got Rhythm, a fantastic Eric Satie song called ‘Allons-y Chochotte’, and Vaughan Williams’ song ‘Vagabond.’

I’m sorry I haven’t any photos for this week. I will do better to get some footage for you all next week!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, per usual, about time and getting older and what it means to be 22. Never before I have I thought about the passing of youth so much in my life! 22 is such an important age I think. Definitely more so than 21. Both Liza and Alison made good points the other day as they explained what it’s like to transition into adulthood, away from being with your friends in college all of the time, away from home, and into responsibility. It’s just kind of hitting me these days that all I’ve ever known is how to be young. You know, you don’t really reflect on it while you’re in your teens. You’re too busy having fun; the whole time you feel like you’re wise and know yourself and know the world entirely. But, I feel like I’m sort of at the top of hill, able to see into a future of having ‘years of experience’ but also into the past of not knowing much at all about life. I feel myself growing here a great deal, but sort of becoming more of what I was always craving to be as a human. It’s good to have independence—a bit scary, to be sure, but really good.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moving in!

It’s been quite an exciting couple of days! Yesterday (Thursday) was another full day of teaching and then another wonderful relaxing meal for dinner. We went to get Sushi, of all things! And it’s super cheap! Was delicious, and we were very thankful to see this warning on their menu… read it carefully:

After dinner, I was super excited to have my first violin lesson! Alison is going to teach me violin over the course of the year, so we started with the basics. Rest position and playing position. Don’t laugh.

Today was even more exciting because we moved into our house! There are a couple puppies and dogs, and an adorable kitten! We’re both so excited to be living where we are—it’s down a big dirt road with lots of little shops and fruit and vegetable stands. It’s not too far from the main road, but it’s not in a touristy area so we’ll see the real Arusha. We live with one other woman named Thembi. She’s a British gal who is absolutely awesome, seems to know everyone in Arusha, and works between here and London as a writer. Oh and the pets are so adorable. We had a great time this morning moving in with the wonderful help of Liza, Annette, Tiana, Thembi, and Liza’s friend Sinane. Oh, also the kitten was sure to help out a whole bunch:

I really feel like this is such a home. As I write now, I’m sitting on my bed in a little canopy of mosquito netting with my pictures from home hung, and a kitten purring on my lap! We’re trying to set up the internet now…grr.. it’s a little frustrating, but it’s been an awesome day nonetheless.

Some video from this evening:

Oh, forgot to mention that we got our first little taste of haggling in the market today. Fortunately, Liza was there to do most of the bargaining in Swahili! Not sure what we’re going to do without her when she leaves in a week!

I took some video the other day of a foggy Mt. Meru on our drive home from work:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I’m lying here in my bed at 11pm at night and I just thought, “yep, it’s time for another blog entry.” I was just trying to compose some music, but it’s a bit difficult right now without a piano. I think I’d much rather be playing the guitar or piano now, making up some song. Some kind of creative spirit is going around, but I’m not quite sure how to capture it, so I’ll just write.

A very wise professor once told our class that we are all ‘time smiths’ – that is to say, we as musicians have a unique perspective on observing time. In our life, we don’t remember our beginnings (birth) and we can’t recognize or perceive our ends (death). Yet, in music, we get to reflect, moment by moment, on a something’s (a piece of music’s) birth and death. Never have I been so understanding of that until now. I watch a young student begin a piece, and I know that its end will arrive in the near future and I can await its arrival. Then, invariably, the piece’s end does arrive, and it is then that I reflect on how that time has passed. The days here fly by and each night I look up at the stars here, thinking about how each night arrives so quickly. It’s simply a strange phenomenon when you take a moment to reflect on the passage of time, how constant it is, how unstoppable it is, and really how strange it is.

It feels as though I’ve been here a month, but only has it been a week! I feel as though I have grown a great deal in only one week, too. It’s been tough in some ways, but more unbelievable than anything. I can imagine that teaching students is something like being a parent, where you suddenly realize that this is your duty—to insure that whatever knowledge you have attained is passed on to the next generation. It’s another strange feeling to observe: the fact that we have a right to teach the young only because we’ve been here longer. I’m trying to learn a lot from them, too, to be sure.

I had my voice students the other day and I was quite nervous about starting voice lessons. They were by far one of the most fun experiences I’ve had though! I don’t love my voice, but I’m willing to pass on what lessons I may and thereby get to grow a great deal in the process. Well, to sum up my feelings, I’d say I feel like one of the luckiest people alive. I feel like there is a great deal of love around me (from many of you), I go to sleep in a wonderfully comfortable bed, and I get to be paid to learn and do what I love! What more could I ask for? Well, I still ask for things, selfishly. I would love to have a clear plan of my future holds… but that would be boring, wouldn’t it? Each night as I look at the stars, I just have to smile and think how they just keep appearing every night, and how I can pretty much trust that tomorrow night will arrive and the stars will be there for me to see.

I wish many of you were here with me to see this place and share its joys and sorrows. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else than here at this point in my life. Thinking of you all as I fall asleep, Dani.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First day of School!

[My studio!]

Let the games begin! or.. should I say, off to the races! Something like that because, dang, it was a crazy first day of classes! We left the house about 9am with Liza to go buy a bunch of school supplies, and you know how I love shopping for school supplies! By 11am we were at ISM getting organized and doing last minute adjustments to the rooms before classes began. Starting at 12pm, I taught 5 private lessons and two group lessons with involved having 3-6 kids in the room, doing different musical exercises and games.

Here at Umoja, we teach the Suzuki method which requires a great deal of involvement from the parents. I like the philosophy and concepts in the Suzuki method and I'm glad to be learning so much by working here. That being said, the parents are in all of the lessons and it adds a different sort of intensity to teaching, as you're being sort of silently judged through the whole lesson. Eh, I've been judged by whole orchestras, so I can take it. I've also done some pretty silly things in front of whole orchestras and survived it, so I consider myself safe for now. haha

The group lessons were a lot of work, but also a ton of fun. We listened to different pieces by different composers and I have a map that I brought here which I hung so we could visually see where the composers are from. I also have a bunch of composers' pictures hung on the wall, but alas, they are all white dead men.. we need to get some variety up there, so I'm going to encourage the students to do a lot of composition exercises with me. I can just tell it's going to be such an incredible year of growing for, hopefully, everyone here.

The day ended at 6pm and, though I was happy to have the end of the day arrive, I didn't feel particularly exhausted or frustrated at all! It was really a ton of fun and I just want to get better and better. I've been reading a lot of pedagogy materials and exercises every day so I hope I will improve quickly as a teacher, performer, composer, and human being!

After work, Liza, Alison, and I went out for an incredibly delicious vegetarian Indian dinner! The Indian food here is apparently pretty awesome, and it has so far proven its reputation true. We had a lot of laughs at the restaurant and I felt, once again, like I was home.

Today (Tuesday) I teach my first voice students which I'm really excited about. My schedule today consists of 4 private piano lessons, 1 group lesson, and 2 private voice lessons!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Hot dang, how the time flies! You know, the first couple of nights here were a bit rough, but already Arusha is starting to feel like home. For all of those who ‘told me so’ you can tell me, ‘told you so!’ J The past couple of days have been fun, productive, and really exciting! Yesterday (Friday) we ran some errands, practiced, and mostly relaxed at our guest house. We discovered that Annette not only has 7 dogs, but also three tortoises!

[German Shepard, Fupi, and Turtle…]

[Fupi interacting with Tortoise!]

We made a trip with Annette to the grocery market where I had a fun time finding some funny items!

[Velvex toilet paper…because kittens always remind me of toilet paper…]

[the only kind of tissue I use.. MANSIZE!!]

[In case you’re thirsty, can always grab a cool glass of Aloe Vera..??]

[my personal favorite… as we all love some saucy secrets…. Eww. Hahaha!]

We enjoyed seeing the city as always and are beginning to recognize places around us! The sun came out and we got to see our first view of Mt. Meru!! See her in the distance?

Back at home, I called my grandmother (much to her surprise!!) and skyped with my dear friend, Meeeshheee!! Who I dearly miss, of course!


That night, Alison and I were invited to join Thembi, the woman whose house we’ll be renting, and some new friends of hers out for dinner and drinks! We went to a terrific street-restaurant for some awesome Indian-vegetarian food! I know it looks a little scary, but fear not, we had no stomach problems! Was delish!

[Khant’s Restaurant]

There were a number of gals in the group who are in college at Chicago Univ. and it was great to talk to them! We went out for drinks after dinner and had awesome conversations! We cracked up when we went into the bathroom where there were no lights… except for this one VERY small candle wick! Can you see the tiny flame?!

Today (Saturday) was very exciting, as we finally got to meet Liza, the director of Umoja Music School, in person! We had teacher training for most of the day and I’m getting pretty dang excited to get started! It will be a learning experience unlike any other! The training was held at Tina’s house where she treated us to an incredible vegetarian meal! Oh man.. I was super happy and had a full plate of food!

[mmmmmmmmm! Thank you, Tina!!]

[teacher training in the nice Arusha Sun]

[Teachers for the Umoja School: David (guitar +Umoja Ensemble), Liza (founder), Me (piano/flute/voice), Tina (admin + Umoja Ensemble), Alison (Violin)]

Finally, tonight we had a meet-n-greet with the parents of a lot of the students we’ll be teaching. Everyone met at a very nice outdoor restaurant called the Blue Herron. It was great to meet a lot of the students and parents there! Right now I’m scheduled to teach about 30 students! It will be a crazy adventure and I’m very excited to meet them all!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Hi all! We had such an exciting and productive day today!! The main points were:

-­ Finding a great place to live

- Getting lost in a very long, rural road

- Cleaning up our rooms at the music school

- Going out to Via Via restaurant at night

So we have found an absolutely terrific place to live we think! We plan to move in next week, so I’ll take pictures of it then and tell you all about it later. There are tropical plants all around, a garden, a kitten, two puppies and two dogs, great bed rooms, and a great roommate who we’re renting from! It will be so much fun when we get to move in!

When we left, however, we meant to head to ISM to work on our classrooms again, but accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up on somewhat of a safari! There were herders moving their cattle and goats all over the place and the road was super bumpy. We thought it would never take us back to the main road, but at last we did find our way back! See the video at the top of the blog!

Once we finally made it to ISM, we cleaned up a lot of our rooms and I now have my own little studio! So crazy! I need to go back to do some finishing touches and then organize all the music, but it feels like home already. We start teaching Monday!

[me in front of our music building!]

[Alison holding her very small Suzuki violin!]

I was good today and didn’t nap so that I would start getting on a good sleep schedule. I just chugged some coke, from the bottle of course, for a caffeine boost!

[mmm!! Coke!]

After dinner, Alison and I got an invitation from Tina, one of Umoja’s founders and organizers, to join her at Via Via, a local and very popular bar/restaurant. I was feeling quite sleepy, but we couldn’t turn down such an offer! It was loads of fun, getting to hear live music and meet a lot of Tina’s friends. There were a lot of kids my age there who seemed to be volunteers or tourists. I hope to make some new friends here soon! See the video at the top of the blog!

[Tina, Alison, and Me at Via Via!]

Liza Barley, Director of Umoja School, will be arriving today or tomorrow and we’ll start some teacher training this weekend! Can’t believe it’s all happening!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The School

Here it is, another morning in Arusha! Most of you are sound asleep back in the states, but I’ll give you an update to wake up to. I’ll start from morning and work backwards. Well, I fell asleep around 10pm last night and awoke in complete darkness, thinking that surely I slept longer than I had the night before…but when I looked at the clock, it was only 1am!! The power had gone out in the neighborhood and to reserve fuel, Annette didn’t turn on the generators. So, in darkness I lay for some time, thinking about what to do. I’ve gotten much better at keeping myself entertained due to the last 2 nights of being awake for hours with no computer/power. As I was reading around 3am, suddenly my American phone (which I didn’t even realize was on) buzzed!!

I hadn’t gotten a cell signal at all since I’ve been here, and suddenly three older textmessages came in! Hello to mom, wendy, and greg woodward! I was so excited, and quickly texted Tristan, and then mom. Well, mom being the awesome lady that she is, soon actually called me…and that was super surreal. I could hear the Norcross train go by in the background where she was and it felt so close! We talked for probably 15 minutes and I hope it’s not going to be super expensive L so sorry if it is! But, then there were several more hours to kill, so I got out my flashlight, Shosty piano prelude/fugues score, and ipod and listened to about 15 of em’, sol feg-ing the melodies as best I could as I went along. I think I’ll start doing harmonic analysis on the pieces if I wake up in the middle of the night again. Thanks to Tristan for introducing me to the pieces, and to Matt for buying me the score!! Well, needless to say, my bed became quite an activity center by morning. I did manage to fall asleep for a couple more hours, thank goodness.

bed activities:

  • Ipod, Shostakovich score for listening
  • Journal for reading, journaling
  • Listen to This for lots of reading
  • Tanzania book to plan safari plans
  • New planner to plan my life
  • Cell phone(s) for those apparently awesome 3am phone calls from my mom!! Haha!

Ok, now for yesterday. We went to the main school where we’ll be teaching (International School of Moshi) to scope out the rooms, move a piano, and get organized. We’re going back today to do more preparation there. The campus is beautiful and they make vegetarian lunch we can order every day!


[One of the main buildings]

[Music department sign]

[Alison and Annette scoping out the violin room!]

[3 very helpful men moving my teaching piano!]

The kids at that school are expatriates, or citizens not originally from Tanzania. It’s a remarkably diverse school where we met just one group of girls hailing from Cyprus, Holland, and Russia! It’s been gray here, but it’s very dry and not too cold. This is the coldest month of the year right now, their winter. Other activities of the day included exchanging currency and getting a TZ cell phone!

I’m in communication now, and a big thanks to my daddio for giving me his Egypt/Haiti phone to use here!

Today we’re going to go look at apartments to rent, so I best be off!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Well, I’ve decided to go ahead and write this blog in a word doc. file, because I’m awake in the middle of the night (3:45am TZ time), but won’t be able to post it until tomorrow morning. I have arrived! Kinda surreal to be here… we got off the plane right onto the tarmac and it was about 8pm at night, with a full bright moon, and strange looking stars shining down above us. There’s a very nice, cool breeze and I wish I could walk around outside, but of course I know better than to do that at 4am!

So I flew to Amsterdam and went to my transfer gate where I waited until I met my fellow fellow, Alison! She’s the violin Fellow for Umoja School and I was so happy to meet her at last! We’ve skyped a lot, but had never met, as she’s from Canada! We began to talk about everything, and soon many other travelers began to appear at our gate, headed for Tanzania safari or Kilimanjaro climbing! Everyone was soon talking to every one else about all our adventures, and it seemed evident that a lot of really cool people come to visit Tanzania! The flight to TZ went smoothly and when we arrived, all of our luggage got here!! Yay! And there was someone here to pick us up!

[Alison, the Violin Fellow, grabbing our things in Tanzania]

We were a bit disappointed that it was night time and we couldn’t see much more than shadows of hills, houses, and people as we passed them in our jeep. After an hour-long trek, we pulled into an absolutely beautiful property which is the house of the main administrator for Umoja, Annette. She greeted us warmly and helped us carry our things into her guest house where Alison and I each have our own room for the next couple of weeks. We’ll be here until we move into a place of our own. We then joined Annette in her living room for drinks and conversation. I was a bit spacy, feeling jetlagged and all. Even though I slept quite a bit on our flight to TZ, I was still beat. This property is beautiful and we all stood in the yard for a moment to look at the stars that look so different from home.

[the very nice bed I get to sleep in here!]

I slept hard from about 11pm-3am, but then awoke feeling a pang of homesickness. I got up and grabbed my journal that so many of you wrote in. Thanks so much to mom’s coworkers at 410 for thinking of this; it was already a big help tonight, and everyone’s messages are so kind. I also began to journal in it, which was a great comfort.

I feel bad that I couldn’t contact my parents when I arrived in TZ, but I trust that my mom was tracking my flight and watched me land..hehe..

Well, to be sure I am missing many of you, but I am very excited to be here and can’t wait to start my day. With love, Dani

[Annette's dog Fupi! haha Fupi means 'Small']

Monday, August 8, 2011

We're Off!

Today is the day-- in just a few minutes, actually, I'll leave for the airport and begin a very long trek to Amsterdam and then Kilimanjaro Intl. Airport in Tanzania! We've gotten everything packed, with a HUGE help from my mom, of course! I look like a packmule just a little bit... but there it all is, everything I'll need for a whole year!

I have to thank so many of you for your prayers, cards, gifts, hugs, support, friendship, and great memories to keep company while I'm over there. The going away party was incredibly wonderful, and I can't thank my family enough for doing that for me. I will miss you all so much. Thank goodness for internet, I seriously don't know how I would go so long without keeping up with you guys!

Talk to you when I'm in tanzania! Here we go!!!