We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Georgetown University student Liselot Koenen is teaching Chemistry to a number of local students at the Forodhani Secondary school in Zanzibar, Tanzania. In this blog post Liselot recalls her three weeks in Zanzibar, the halfway mark of her committed six weeks of service, with a series of events relating to her college major.
This Sunday will mark my third week of being in Zanzibar. I can’t decide if time has gone too fast or too slow, either way I have done more on this trip than I could ever imagine. All I wish was that I was able to have the time to write all these moments down more often.
Today marked the day of Mari’s first day back at work. Well, actually, she just came for English club today, but it’s a good first step. After what’s happened to her the past week, I’m so happy that she’s finally back to doing the job she loves and what she’s come here to do.
A little short background story of what happened to Mari. Last week, we were grading papers in the staff room when Mari started to get sick. Well, really if was just how we always felt: extremely hot. However, this occasion was a bit different. Mari asked one of our favorite teachers, Amelia (math teacher), to show her where the bathroom is. As I continued grading, Mari followed her out of the staff room. Next thing I know, I hear a big thud and all the teachers immediately stared at me. Was that Mari? Less than 10 seconds later, I see Mari on the ground. She had fainted. She gained consciousness back right away, but she couldn’t get up from the ground. I have never seen someone more pale in my life. I hurried and grabbed my phone to call Kitty, our “house mom”, and Ulrica, our country coordinator, to come right away. We were finally able to bring Mari up and into a chair. It was not until then that I realized her front two teeth were chipped and she had a cut on her chin from falling.
With the help of Ali, our go-to taxi driver, we were able to get to the medical clinic pretty quickly. To make a long story a bit shorter, it turned out to be a bit more than just heat exhaustion. Mari stayed in the hospital for two nights and three days with our group of girls taking shifts to stay with her (I slept in the clinic with her the first night). Being an international health major and constantly learning about the health care system in these developing countries, it was quite exciting to finally see “it” in action. Mari continued to suffer from headaches, body aches, constant fever, etc. You name it, she had it. Even in the US, we sometimes have a hard time diagnosing illnesses. Well, here was no different. Even to this day, we are not 100 percent sure what Mari had, but the end conclusion was that she may have been suffering from a middle ear infection. Either way, she is now able to come back to school and teach. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful companion at school with me, even though we have only known each other for a couple of weeks now. Having that person there to experience every step of this journey with, whether it is to share the joy or just vent about a situation. And boy, did I miss having my new American friend at school for the last week and a half.