I could have spent my summer playing video games, trying to get the Orioles to the World Series in MLB the Show. I could have taken care of my goats, reinforced the fence they are so prone to escape through. I could have worked on my vegetable garden; spent my summer pulling weeds. I could have gone on several two and three day adventures with my wife visiting old friends and new places. I could have gone to family vacation and spent time with family. All of these "could haves" is what my summer would have been if I had decided not to go to Africa.
As I sit at home now back in America reflecting on my summer in Tanzania, I would like first to send out my love and gratitude to all those who made it possible for me to spend the past two months teaching in Tanzania. First and foremost my wife Emily who never wavered in her support of me leaving knowing full well what it would mean for her: increased yard work, taking care of the goats, chasing goats when they escape, taking care of any issues that come up around the house (I'm looking at you dryer!),and just not having my pleasant, charming, hilarious, and humble presence around her at all times. Secondly, I would like to thank my family who have made this trip so much easier with their financial support, a mother who never stops praying, parents and siblings who send me encouraging messages (and Oriole updates!) and a father-in-law who can take down a door jamb cause sometimes you just need to take down a door jamb (again, I'm looking at you dryer!). Thirdly, I would like to thank all of my friends who have supported me both financially and with prayer. I know there are many of you and your prayers are felt and appreciated. Thank you.
Tanzania is a country still developing and facing many obstacles. One of the most serious obstacles is education. The government in recent years has worked very hard to make sure more people are getting more education; the problem with this is though people are getting more education, they are not getting a quality education. The most significant detriment to a quality education is the lack of qualified teachers. (Do you see this cycle? Inadequate teachers teach children who in turn become inadequate teachers and teach more children and the cycle of inadequacies continues.) I worked at Village Schools International's college this summer in an effort to change that. I, along with others, guided 37 students in not only how to improve their knowledge in content areas like English, Math, Physics, and Chemistry, but also showing them teaching strategies that will make them more effective teachers. Right now, I'm convinced after teaching these Tanzanians, who are in the middle or just the beginning of getting their degrees, if we put them right now in Tanzanian schools they would be by far the best teachers in the school. And as these young men and women become quality teachers, they will produce better educated students who will then become better teachers, better engineers, better scientists, better supervisors, better professionals who will in turn help the development of Tanzania making a lasting difference here. Village Schools International has never been about changing just one life (though that happens all the time), they've been about making a lasting change for villages and the thousands of people in those villages. Their goal and vision is lofty but as their over thirty schools now stretching into 3 different countries show, they have a system that works and that is in fact currently changing thousands of lives. This college will play a significant role in making sure that the currently 30+ schools (the list seems to grow every time I look at it) will have a steady flow of qualified teachers to produce qualified students.
So yeah, I could have spent my summer playing video games (and goodness knows the only way the Orioles are getting to the World Series is if I take them there in my virtual world!). However Emily and I understand, or rather we believe, that a Christian is someone who cares and does something about it. And all of you who supported me in this trip spiritually, financially, and in a multitude of other ways like hanging out with my wife, or sharing with others about what God is doing through Village Schools International, or finding a way to get me sports updates (Durant to the Warriors, really?!), you also played your part in being a Christian, or just a human being, who cares about this world and feels called to make it a better place.