CU Around the World – Keeley Locke (’10)

 I decided to go to Africa to volunteer shortly after graduating from CU in May 2010. I had decided to take a gap year before graduate school to determine what I wanted to do next with my life. Africa seemed to be the perfect place to strip away the extraneous and find “the” path. So, I signed up to volunteer with Cross Cultural Solutions, an international organization, for four weeks in Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

When you arrive in Tanzania, it doesn’t take long for you to realize that the way you look at life and the world is about to change drastically.

I was placed at the Eliroi School teaching 28 children ages 3-7. Our school was, in actuality, a store shed converted into a very small and tight two-room schoolhouse.

I spent my days with them teaching math, English, and writing. We also spent a good part of the day singing and dancing in the front yard of the school.

To say that resources are scarce is a HUGE understatement. The kids sharpen their pencils with straight razors (I brought in pencil sharpeners on day two). There are few books, and when I would take one from my bag they would “ooo” and “ahhh” with excitement.

The children of this country are incredible! They crave education the way our children crave PlayStations. But, for lack of trained teachers and resources, education continues to struggle in this country. It is one of its major issues. Education is the only thing that will set them free, that will make it possible for them to make a better life for themselves and their families, yet the education that they need and seek is almost non-existent. But still there is hope.

The spirit of the East African people is strong and unwavering. They have extremely little but are the happiest people I have ever known. Our idea of hardship is nothing compared to theirs and still they spread positivity, understanding, and hope. It is the most humbling of experiences.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my Eliroi kids or worry about them. I know now more than ever that they had far more of an impact on my life then I could have ever had on theirs. I am a better person because them.

They say that once you’ve spent time in Africa that it becomes a part of you. Tanzania, its people, and its culture have seeped into my very soul, and I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life. It is, after all, what led me to my path.

I recently moved to Scotland to start my Masters in Human Rights this fall. For the next year, I will be soaking up the knowledge needed to go back to Africa and be of real help.