A Norwegian In Tanzania: Ayla Visits A Secondary School

From February 20-28, Ayla–by way of mutual acquaintances (and Minnesota’s connections to Scandinavia)–visited the school in Tanzania where I volunteered in 2014. Our organization Change it Forward-Tanzania as well as the leaders at Magulilwa Area Secondary School made arrangements for Ayla’s arrival.

The adventurous 20-year-old from Norway came to Magulilwa as part of her global trip to many parts of the world: China, Italy, and here in the US. In fact, she’s still on her journey as of this writing, on her way to Cuba. (Perhaps we’ll hear more about her other destinations in future weeks.)

For now, let’s see what (and how) she did in Tanzania, East Africa. The following is taken from her online journal and my interview with her.


My goal was to learn about a school like yours in this part of the world, Ayla told me as we visited at a coffeeshop in Minneapolis (pictured above).

“I got a feeling of how they lived, of some of the stories,” said Ayla.

On February 19 of this year, Ayla flew in to Dar es Salaam, and waiting for her at the airport was Magulilwa school’s librarian, Caroline.

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Caroline would serve as Ayla’s guide.
View from their Dar es Salaam hotel
View from their Dar es Salaam hotel

The next day, they set off for Magulilwa.

Magulilwa Map with africa

“We went through the national park on the bus ride. I saw monkeys, antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, eagles and giraffes!” Ayla wrote in your journal.

After an 8-hour bus ride to Iringa, and then 45 more minutes by car, Ayla had arrived to Magulilwa Area Secondary School.

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“My new home.  Have my own small apartment here in Tanzania at the school. Caroline is making food for us now, and then it’s bedtime! Going to explore my new environment tomorrow.  (I’m super afraid of malaria. People have made such a big deal out of it, and now I’m here and can see bugs.  Why did I only bring 2 bottles of bug spray?!?)”
So this is my toilet here in Tanzania. I'm so going to fall in to it! You flush it by taking a small bucket of water and poor into it The other picture is my shower. Caroline boiled me some water yesterday and told me to mix it with the cold water to the perfect temprature. Think I realised that I don't really need a shower or a toilet. I now understand how Clem can live on a roof with his solarshower. I did tell you about Clem? Hmm, maby I didn't. I'm gone write a post about him It's a funny story I'll put the post with the Maltastuff, so you have to scroll to find it. Won't make sense to put it with the Tanzaniastuff.
“So this is my toilet here in Tanzania. You flush it by taking a small bucket of water and pour into it.”

The following days, Caroline showed Ayla the school, village, and countryside.

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“Just going around exploring right now.”
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“Met the students. They keep calling me ‘madam’, and I can’t get used to it!”
“Out walking with Caroline. Found these kids playing by the river.  This place is just beyond beautiful!”

One day they encountered the area primary school.

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“We got to a school and all the kids just came running!”
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“We were completely surruonded! Everyone just kept shouting ‘mzungu! mzungu!’ which means white person. Caroline told me it was probably their first time seeing one!”

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On another they explored the farming.

Todays adventure! We walked to this huuge field! I think it’s awesome that all the animals are free. The cowboys are often small boys around 5-10 years old. They take their animals around and meet up with friends. They go and play, but always keep a close eye on their animals! I saw 2 chameleons today!!! And a green snake that was hiding in the road! We came past and it jumped out, pretending to attack before it ran away. It wasn’t poisonous, but still scary!”

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She also shared about dining.

“They told me we were going to buy a chicken, and I was like okay, let’s go! Then the farmer gave them a live chicken! Rashidy (Caroline’s husband) just carried it by it’s legs! The chicken was just like totally calm, sitting on his hand! It didn’t even put up a fight! We are going to eat it for lunch. Rashidy just killed it. I feel soo bad for the chicken. It really feels wrong to eat it. It was alive like two hours ago!”

Back at the school, Ayla spent time working with the students in an unexpected way.

“I had a self defense course with the kids,” she said to me at the coffeeshop. “I learned it in the scouts.”

A group of teenage boys attended, and afterward, she instructed them to help teach the rest of the students. (We’ll see if Ayla returns for follow-up instruction.)

Through all her interactions with our students and staff, Ayla was impressed by the hospitality, the way staff made her feel comfortable, and the students’ interest in her.

“They ask tons of questions,” she said.

Ayla said she did the best she could to answer questions about technology and her home country. She had just as many questions for them, though.

“They just seemed so happy to be there. They just loved this place,” said Ayla. “I thought it was so nice. People don’t usually love school. It was just so beautiful and all the people were kind and nice and friendly.”

When asked what her biggest takeaway was, Ayla said it was the opportunity for students at Magulilwa Area Secondary School and the attitude the students and staff embody.

“It gives them possibilities. Teachers are so interested in the students. People care about each other.”


Ayla is a 20-year-old Norwegian backpacker, currently running around the wold on the hunt for new adventures. She loves to learn new things and study new cultures. She’s Christian, and in her more normal life (when not eating donkey sandwiches in China and taking trains across Italy), she does dancing and karate. For any questions for Ayla or about Magulilwa school, please comment below. 

And if you’d like to share your story on The Periphery, please email me at Brandon@ThePeriphery.com. We’d love to hear all about your adventure.

6 Responses

  1. I’m not sure why my comments aren’t getting on the blog, but I’ll try ONE more time to get it in here! I really appreciate the stories you share (from you and also from guests), because they get me out of my own sphere of understanding and influence.

    Thanks so much! Peace!

  2. What a delightful entry again, Brandon. One of the the things that I appreciate about your blog is that it “takes me outside of myself.” Namely—your posts (and great guest posts such as this one from Ayla) let me see the world from a different angle than I would normally experience in my day-to-day life.

    I especially appreciate that you always accompany your posts with great photos. To me, I feel like I’ve experienced vicariously what you (or your guests) have! So thank you!!

    Dan Maurer

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