Congratulations to all who participated in the RSIS Big Build in Tanzania
July saw the successful completion of our second RSIS Big Build Project. This time our student team travelled to Tanzania where they built a new classroom and kitchen for Ng’aroni School.
With a focus on the development of skills and competencies for Leadership, the Big Build brought together a truly international team of 50 students from Schools across the five regions that make up the Round Square global network.
“I was able to extend my limits and learn that I'm capable of so much more physically, emotionally, and socially. I also didn't realise how big of an impact we could have in just two short weeks so just physically seeing what we built was amazing. It made me realise that if people just gave up their time for others, the world could be such a beautiful place.” Explains Caroline Kim, student from UWCSEA, Singapore. “I think I have new values regarding my lifestyle so just being more conscious about the impact I have and also regarding how much I give back. I also think that because of my emotional group, I'm going to grow a lot more throughout the next few years.”
Students and adults joined the project from 30 different schools, representing 16 different nationalities. The students worked in mixed teams, gaining a very practical, hands-on experience of cultural difference and similarity, and broadening their own horizons in the process.
“The experience in Tanzania has made her far more aware of everything around her” says Anil Bagri, parent from Dhirubhai Ambani International School, India whose daughter took part in the project, “She has developed a greater understanding of the live she lives at home, as well as the life that others live in other parts of the world. The interaction with the children of Tanzania, as well as with the children from other countries, has shown her how varied the world is, yet how much its beauty is enhanced by this variety.”
“I was really surprised, to see how open hearted the community was accepting and welcoming us, and without prejudice,” says Anne-Sophie Van schaik, student from Herlufsholm Skole in Denmark.
Caroline Kim, student from UWCSEA agrees “Just the amount of friendliness and love that was shown to us by all the local people who worked with us. It was unbelievable how welcoming they were. They were just amazing to everyone and a few of us would chat and dance at night with the kitchen and construction staff!”
The adventure began on the 10th July, with students being welcomed to Tanzania by our friendly team of Adult Leaders; Carlos Manuel Cazorla Garcia from UWCSEA, Rachel Cazabon from Lakefield College School, Manisha Nanda from Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Harry Smith from St Constantine's International School, Rod Summerton from Ivanhoe Grammar School, Liz Green from Latymer Upper School, Sandy Watt from Box Hill School and finally Dr Lanka from Doon School.
“It was wonderful meeting these amazing young people from across the globe and uniting them with a common goal” says Accompanying Adult, Sandy Watt.
"Each one was unified with single minded dedication!. Being with them made me feel that this world has a very bright, positive future and the gen next holds a promise of an intensely progressive era!" agreed Manisha Nanda, Accompanying Adult from Dhirubhai Ambani International School.
“I believe that the success of the project was down to our students' involvement. I was extremely impressed with the students' readiness to take on responsibilities right from the start and how professional they were as student leaders.” Explains Carlos Manuel Cazorla Garcia, Project Leader from UWCSEA, Singapore “Our team worked hard to build the classroom and the kitchen as well as to improve the school facilities in general. It was a huge team effort and I am grateful for the support and cooperation from the wonderful team of young adults and my colleagues.”
Whilst in Tanzania the students camped in the lively, leafy market town of Manrangu, which is nestled on the lower slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro, 40km northeast of Moshi. Many Marangu residents are farmers growing bananas, vegetables and coffee and the word Marangu means ‘place of water’ and the surrounding area is laced with small streams and waterfalls. Whilst the project itself was hard work, the setting provided the perfect environment for students to spend time in personal reflection and goal setting.
“I have been very lucky in my life, and have been afforded many opportunities by the gratitude of others. I wanted to participate in this project to start to give back in what way I was able to.” Alejandro Sarmiento, student from Hotchkiss School, USA. “This project allowed me a great deal of time and opportunities for introspection. Throughout this trip, I was able to learn so much about myself. I was able to define my values, what I truly believe, and what it is that I want from my life.”
“The RSIS project offered many opportunities that we felt would contribute to Alice's personal growth and development.” Explains Rob Wilson, a parent from Ivanhoe Grammar School, Australia.
The team came together quickly and worked together as a unit; taking responsibility for the organisation of the day, briefing their peers, giving an overview of safety and risk management and organising a student rota to help with different chores at camp.
As Timea Kadar Iulia, from Transylvania College, Romania explains “Every day one person from the team had the chance to be the leader of the team. When I was the leader, I made sure that my colleagues had everything and were ready to work and have a positive outlook.” Kanak Arora, a student from Mayo College, India agrees “This RSIS Project has helped me in becoming a successful leader and taking responsibilities towards the team and work.”
The opportunities for personal development didn’t end there, as Caroline Kim, student from UWCSEA, Singapore found “I think being thrown into a group of 50 kids for two weeks, of whom I knew two people, forced me to break out of my comfort zone super quickly. It helped me really clearly state what I was thinking and made me more conscious of what I was saying and the tone that I was using. Since we were around each other for every minute of every day, it made me really conscious and empathetic because of the struggles we faced everyday so made me realise that communication was key to maintaining positive relationships!”
Students also visited local attractions including stunning waterfalls and caves, and the Chagaa Museum. The Chagaa tribe are the original mountain people of Tanzania , and the through the visits, students learnt a lot about the history and future aspirations of this unique tribe. As Kanak Arora, student from Mayo College, India, says “It was very surprising to know about the culture and traditions of Tanzania as we visited the Chaga caves, their tradition, culture and system was very technical and advanced at the early centuries.”
Alongside exploring the culture and history of their project environment, students also had a glimpse of some of the challenges faced by those in a developing community. The impact was felt in a number of ways, but many students and their parents spoke of the commitment they felt to continuing to help others in future, as Sevan Balian, student from King's Academy, Jordan explains “Going to Africa made me really appreciate the food, water, shelter, education and everything else that I have. It was truly a life-changing experience. It has helped appreciate the world I live in and awakened me to pursue the goal of helping others.”
This is echoed by Rebecca Nelson, a parent from Cate School, USA “The biggest thing that has changed in our son is that he now truly understands the importance of giving back, and I believe it will allow him to be further involved in philanthropy.”
Whilst in Tanzania, Accompanying Adult Dr Lanka Amar from Doon school, worked with 175 local school children in three interactive sessions of about half hour each on the importance of general hygiene, hand washing and dental hygiene. Handwashing and tooth brushing techniques were demonstrated and practiced. Toothbrushes were given to all children donated by Accompanying Adults Sandy and Rod. Doon School also kindly donated a stock of deworming and multi vitamins tablets to the school.
Round Square would like to say a big thank you to all the participating students for their hard work, determination, team morale and for making the RSIS Big Build Tanzania a wonderful experience.
On behalf of our students, we would also like to thank the leaders, the local in-country support, our partner organisation and parents for their support in this amazing project.
Visit the teams blog for photos and a detailed account of the student’s time in Tanzania, or if this article has inspired you, click here to find out more about our upcoming Service Projects.