Every spring, we are reunited with some of our friends from the Arusha office who get an all-expense paid, two-week visit to the US, courtesy of Rick and Judi. It is such a treat to spend time with our colleagues and to be able to reciprocate the hospitality they so graciously give to us when we visit Tanzania.–
This year, we welcomed Hashim, Ally and Albert to Boston:
Hashim manages our fleet of vehicles, which is about 50 strong. Maintaining the fleet is a big job: it includes the Thomson Safaris’ Land Rover Defenders for wildlife viewing, trucks to haul mobile camp supplies and camp resupply vehicles.
Ally began working with Thomson Safaris in 2006 as a Camp Manager and has since been promoted to Manager of Camps. His tasks include overseeing staff and ensuring quality control of our Nyumba camps. During this visit, our past guests graciously invited Ally to California where they hosted his stay in San Francisco for four days.
As Assistant Equipment Manager, Albert ensures our camps’ equipment is in good working order and oversees logistics of camp resupplies for guests and staff. You can’t miss Albert’s bright, friendly smile. He is, however, a force to be reckoned with on the football field, where he has brought Thomson some big sporting victories as the team’s goalkeeper.
Hashim, Ally and Albert’s enthusiasm seemed palpable from the moment their plane touched the tarmac at Logan. From the get-go, our friends were eager to learn and absorb as much as they could about American culture. During their trip, their schedules were packed with activities and sightseeing excursions.
Hashim, especially, seemed to embrace the experience by taking photos every step of the way…we’re talking every step of the way! Rick commented that whenever they were in the car, Hashim had his head out the window, snapping one photo after the next! It is apparent from his final collection of images – which consist of snapshots varying from the Boston skyline to the aisles of Home Depot during an errand – that he was particularly moved by each experience. Michael, in our marketing department, said, “They were so excited about things we may take for granted. It really made me think differently and feel grateful for everything we have!”
During one of their first evenings in town, we gathered for a welcome dinner at Rick and Judi’s. The men enjoyed mingling, learning more about our lives and telling us about the sights they had seen thus far. That night, we also learned they had never tried shrimp or wadudu wa bahari(direct Swahili translation: bugs of the sea). Eliza, who recently returned from an extended stay in Tanzania and was eager to introduce them to a new experience, said, “When I was in Tanzania, everyone wanted to take me out to very Tanzanian places, to try new food, and to speak Swahili. It was really fun to be on the other side and to be a host.” Although wadudu wa bahari probably wasn’t at the top of their list of American cuisine to try; they did and they loved it! When asked if they would try lobster in the future, however, they responded with a resounding absolutely not!
The men enjoyed more American experiences during an evening of bowling with the staff. Even though Hashim had never bowled before, he was a natural! We all wondered if there was a bowling alley in Arusha we didn’t know about! We’re not sure how he did it, but he beat all of us!
In addition to exposing our friends to American culture, we also spent time learning more about their specialized day-to-day activities and challenges in the field. Special Interest Safari Consultant, Evan, said, “I loved hearing them speak about the work they do in Tanzania and how our jobs, here in Watertown, relate and coordinate with their jobs; it brought things full circle.” The men agreed with this sentiment and especially appreciated learning about the recent efforts of Focus on Tanzanian Communities.
Megan, in Guest Relations, summed it up by saying, “We learned about their families, education, which cultural tribe they come from and a bit about how they try to balance their work and family life. They experience the same work/family life balance issues that we all do – their jobs include time spent away from home to be in the bush for weeks at a time! It’s evident that despite our cultural and geographical differences, we all tend to face similar challenges.”