Hey all! I hope everybody had a safe and fun Independence Day! We’ve had a ton going on this week and a half, so apologies for not posting sooner (that and I’ve just been too lazy to write so…)
Last Monday and Tuesday we celebrated Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan. Islam and Catholicism are major religious groups here so to keep things fair the government lets both religions celebrate their holidays as a nation. We “celebrated” by not going to school and starting our Super Official Nertz Tournament (I am not winning). Over the weekend Naomi and I went back to Mama Janeth’s for our homestay and got to spend a little time in town out and about. This week, because of The Fourth of July, we only went to school on Wednesday (I gotta tell ya I’m loving all these holidays). And today (Thursday) and Friday we don’t have class because of the Tanzanian holiday Saba Saba (7/7, as in the seventh of July. Don’t ask me why it’s a holiday idk).
As part of our program, we were assigned to put together a celebration for the Fourth to show our teachers and our homestay families what it’s like to celebrate Independence Day in America. At first I thought it was going to be your stereotypical, “play the national anthem, sing a ‘Merica song, eat some grilled food and hang out” type of day. But we quickly realized that because of our different backgrounds as a group, we don’t all see Independence Day in the same way. Instead, we decided to make the Fourth our own by mashing together all of our ideas and beliefs about America’s independence and give a presentation about the many facets of what we call freedom. We discussed slavery, immigrants and their major contribution to the growth of our nation, and America’s struggle to be a truly free country. It was a really enlightening experience and I learned so much about the different views of our country. We highlighted that although July Fourth is a day to celebrate America’s accomplishments, just like everybody else, we still make a lot of mistakes and have a long way to go before we can be a nation for all. And, of course, we played the national anthem and sang a ‘Merica song.
I’m really learning a lot about how a persons background shapes their beliefs because of the varying nationalities of our group. Which, I think in a way is another contradiction I’m discovering. We allow our backgrounds and ethnicities to dictate what we see as free and how we view our country, and I think that it’s so important to have those differing opinions. But on the other side of things, we’re also allowed to separate ourselves from our past and become exactly who we want to be, regardless of where we come from and who our ancestors were. Being human is a contradiction, but it’s one I’m learning to love.
Side note: If I ever say something you don’t agree with or want to expand upon, please please do! This blog is a place for me to put my raw, unedited thoughts, so I know that in many cases my thoughts need to be molded and matured. And that’s where you come in! Thank you so much for allowing me to have this space. Thank you for not only respecting my opinions, but respecting me enough to share your own.