Archive for Mara Johnson-GrohPage 2

Sit! Stay! Roll Over!

Puppy chow, catnip and hamster wheels. Americans are obsessed with their pets. They feed them gourmet food, buy them little outfits for cold days, and leave them messages on the answering machine when they are away. Coming from a culture like that, it can be hard to understand African’s adversity to dogs and other animals. […]

Ready, Set, Remember!

Of all the subjects offered in school, physical education is the one students take least seriously.  Gym is the ‘fun’ class where you receive little or no homework, play games most days and are guaranteed high marks if you just come to class.  Most days, at the beginning of class we would do some exercises […]

Five Stars

Some of the most surprising differences in life here versus in the States are from the more common things that you normally don’t think about.  One example would be movies.  Acquiring and watching movies in Tanzania is quite different than in the States.  Movies can be bought in small electronic shops or just off the […]


If you were to ask someone of the street what words they would use to describe Americans, chances are the word ‘ingenious’ would be among the resulting list.  From founding fathers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Edison and Bill Gates, we believe we hold a strong lineage of ingenious minds.  But I […]

The Ascent

I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  I did it.  Well, I didn’t climb to the top, but I’ve climbed a little.  The college at Mweka is just a few kilometers downhill from the park gate.  We’ve walked up to the gate a few times just for the fun of it. Setting off under marshmallow clouds, we […]

Send the Ark

Living on a mountain, I never would have though I would need to worry about floods. However, life has a funny way of dealing out the unexpected. One day, coming back from the Secondary School, I thought, “A nice, refreshing shower will be nice when I get home.” Ten minutes later, hot and sweaty, I […]

A Winter Solstice in the Summer

Today is the first day of winter at home, and though those seasons don’t apply down here, it is still hard to think that it is mid-December.   The countless inconstancies with the current season have me wondering what time of year it really is.  When you’ve lost your time-markers, time seems to stand still. In […]

Dar es Salaam

Last week, business called us to Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is a big port city on the Indian Ocean and though it isn’t the capital of Tanzania, it is home to many government buildings and embassies. While in Dar es Salaam we needed to get a research permit approved, pick up 90 kilos […]

What’s in a name?

As would be expected, names here are different than ones you might find in the United States.  I’ve compiled a short sampling of some more common and unique names of my students bellow.  Philbert Wilbard Baraka Godlove Mary Restituta Amani Goodluck Norberth Heavenlight John Novatus Chrispin Lukresia Frida Innocent Peter Khalid Urbani Emmanuel Happy Boniphace […]

Pass the Turkey

Consider that Thanksgiving festivities you enjoyed last week. It probably included getting together with family and friends for a big home-cooked meal, maybe some card games and parade viewing or football playing or watching.  Now what would you do if you had half of a kitchen (the half without an oven) your friends and family […]