The Ashcombe School

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Year 11-12 Tanzanian Exchange Visits

Exchange with Tambaza High School

Seventeen Ashcombe students, accompanied by Mr Smallridge, Mr Buckingham, Mrs Williams and Mr Reeves, travelled to Tanzania on a student exchange. This exchange programme has been running since 1997 and five exchanges had occurred prior to our visit. Our experience was another success, furthering the important link between The Ashcombe School and the Tambaza High School in Tanzania.

Ashcombe students visit Tanbasa High SchoolWe began our three-week trip with a week in Dar-es- Salaam, where we each stayed with a Tanzanian family. We were warmly welcomed into the homes of our exchange partners and really made to feel part of the family. We all had very different experiences in the homes of our partners, living in a wide range of houses, with families with different routines, yet everyone enjoyed their own individual experiences and have many stories to tell of their time there. Mine included waking up to soldiers marching outside my window, as my host’s father was the prison commissioner and I was staying on the soldier-training compound next to the prison! For many of us this change of lifestyle was at times challenging, but the early starts in the morning became easier as time went on, as did the bucket of cold water for a shower in the morning!

During the first week, we spent time at the Tambaza High School, attended classes and found the bare shelves of the bookcases a stark contrast to the wide range of resources available to us in the UK that we take for granted. We also worked with our partners on a project, looking at the effect of globalisation; this project allowed the Tanzanian and English students to learn from one another by sharing and discussing our outlooks and opinions.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the offshore island of Zanzibar with our partners, where we first visited Stone Town and then a vibrant fish market in the evening. Next we travelled to Jambiani, a stunning white sand beach, fringed with palm trees and a turquoise sea. Here we lay on the beach, swam with dolphins, went sailing in a dhow, snorkelled and then spent the evening singing on the beach, accompanied by a ukulele.

On Safari!Next was safari: we went to the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro crater, discovering Africa’s dramatic scenery and wildlife - lions, zebras, giraffes and flamingos, often only metres from our safari trucks. The landscape was striking, as were the beautiful sunrises we saw each morning from our tents.

We then had to say our goodbyes, with the exciting prospect of seeing our partners again in six months time. Students returned home to the UK, with lasting impressions of the heat and colours of Tanzania, as well as the laidback African lifestyle.

The Tanzanians came to England in February this year and were faced with a particularly damp and cold Dorking. The students were quick to borrow hats and ski jackets and families immediately equipped them with blankets and hot water bottles! The Tanzanians enjoyed a variety of trips with us, including a visit to The Houses of Parliament, Thomson Reuters at Canary Wharf, Brighton and even a football match at Craven Cottage. English students opened up their homes and gatherings were organised in the evenings. The Tanzanians also enjoyed just spending time at home and relaxing; they fitted perfectly into the English families and their company was most certainly missed when they had gone.

The evening before the Tanzanians left, a meal was organised for the students, families and staff at The Ashcombe Ranmore canteen, which was enjoyed by all involved. The Tanzanians performed a variety of traditional dances and thank-yous and goodbyes were said.

Both the English and Tanzanian students had an absolutely amazing time on the exchange and the students formed real bonds with their partners. I definitely learnt a lot about myself, as well as learning about a completely different culture. I also have a better appreciation of all the opportunities open to us here in the UK. Many partners have kept in touch via regular emails and have high hopes of returning to Tanzania, a country with which many of us now feel we have a very strong link.