Sep 10 2012
Many people view travel as time with family and friends, exploring unfamiliar areas, or an opportunity to relax from a persistant routine. I recently returned from Africa, however it wasn’t under your typical label of “travel.”
I went with five others to volunteer to tutor street orphans (among other activities) who are taken in by an organzaition called Christ’s Hope. In Mwanza, Tanzania specifically, this organization is able to take in street orphans and help them to be safe and teach self-sufficiency. (They have to learn how to cook, do laundry, go to school, and so on.)
One of the best investments I had with me — at least bookwise — was Lonely Planet’s Swahili Phrasebook. As my Swahili is nowhere near fluent yet and many of these kids struggle with conversational English (though it is required in school that they learn it), this book was a gem. I could look up words and have a clear pronunciation guide in a pocket size book.
Sure, I could have asked someone else with better English-Swahili skills to translate or tell me the word, but when one isn’t around or I’ve already bombarded them with questions, the phasebook was a vital tool. For example, one afternoon I was helping Rachel — who was probably around 6 — with her math. We worked on counting and writing numbers. She couldn’t quite understand addition and often had trouble with double digit numbers. She also kept writing her sixes backwards. Beyond numbers, I quickly looked up words such as “add,” “equals,” “great job,” and so on. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to help Rachel write her numbers better as well as improving her comprehension of number sequence above 10.
I do not recall coming across any misused or mispronounciations within the Lonely Planetphrasebook either. With hundreds of words at my fingertips it helped make tutoring and conversing a lot easier. When next abroad I will definitly invest in whatever phrasebook language I need. I also love that this book had a small section on pronounciation of the alphabet and grammar — it was just enough to get me started and not feel overwhelmed as language books have a habit of doing.
Beyond phrasebooks, please consider some sort of humanatrain approach to travel. It is an experience you will not forget! Not to mention the closer taste of culture that any hotel or tourist trap would not be able to provide for you. Don’t let travel simply be a taking experience. Jump into the cuture and give.Read more: Africa, Book Reviews, General, Humanitarian, Phrasebook, Swahili, Tanzania, Travel, Travel Tips and Resources