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Volunteer Interview Tracie Thorson

Tracie Thorson, a 29 year-old marketing executive from Seattle, Washington, decided to take a break from career and travel to Tanzania to volunteer for Cross Cultural Solutions. Although she only volunteered for three years, Tracie has many great things to say about her experience.

Below is a short interview with Tracie about her experiences, thoughts on volunteering and how she made the best of her experience.

1) Tell us briefly about your volunteer experience in Tanzania. What do you do?
I taught english, specifically grammar, and marketing which is my profession in the states. I worked in a school outside Arusha at the base of mt. meru. it was a very basic school, no electricity, no toilets. I taught the vocational students, ages 13-20. i had a class of 75 teenagers – eek!

2) What is the most difficult thing about working in Africa?
It was difficult to get the right type of supplies I needed to teach and create lesson plans with. It was difficult to see such poverty and the need of my students who so want to learn, have a career – but they are faced with huge challenges. I just wanted to stay and try to make it better in anyway I could.

3) What is the easiest thing?
The people. They are so wonderful and thankful that volunteers are there with an open heart sharing all the knowledge we have.

4) What is one word of advice you could give for someone moving to Africa to volunteer?
Try to find out your placement ahead of time so you can prepare and bring supplies from your hometown. Also keep an open-mind and try to understand their culture to curve your behavior and teaching that fits their needs.

5) What type of skills are needed for volunteers?
Patience, motivation, a lot of energy, open heart and mind.

6) Do you have anything else to say?
I highly recommend volunteering wherever you are, but if you have a chance, Tanzania was incredible. The most rewarding volunteer experience I have ever had.