Gap Year Tanzania
About the program
Briefing & Orientation
You will fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi from where you will need to take a connecting flight to Kilimanjaro Airport in Northern Tanzania. Here your AV representative will meet you on arrival and take you to a nearby hotel on the outskirts of Arusha – the base for your orientation course.
A chance to settle in, unwind after the hectic few days leading up to your departure and get to know your fellow AV volunteers. The orientation course is important to make sure you are fully prepared for the start of your project work. The course will be led by the AV in-country representative, giving you a chance to get to know them too, and will cover the following:
- History, customs and culture of Tanzania and its people
- Safety, health and security
- Advice on communicating with your students and structuring English or sports sessions
- Some language training in Swahili
- The education system in Tanzania
The orientation course for the Tanzania Venture takes place on the outskirts of Arusha, facing Mount Meru. You will stay in dormitory accommodation with your fellow AVs and have all your meals cooked for you. In between briefings you will have the chance to relax, explore Arusha and settle into your new surroundings.
At the end of the orientation course you will be taken to your AV houses, ready to start your project for real. Here the AV representative will leave you to settle into your new home, but remember they’re never more than a phone call away if needed!
What you do each day is partly down to you and what you have chosen to do; rarely are two days on AV the same!
If you would like to spend time helping children speak, read and write English you can do so through one-to-one sessions, small groups or in the classroom on a larger scale. All lessons are taught in English. If you are keen to do more, schools will also appreciate help with maths, science, art, drama, music and computers (if they have them). You can work with you partner, or on your own. Outside of this, you will need to spend some time planning for your sessions/groups and may have homework to mark!
For those doing sports coaching you will run all the PE lessons and arrange sports clubs. PE lessons may involve big classes and little equipment; they are a good test of you initiative and resourcefulness. Games such as tag or duck, duck goose are great for their simplicity and mass participation. Sports clubs involving football, rugby, athletics, rounders, volleyball, cricket and netball are all actively encouraged. There is also the option of introdcuing new games which you might know. Many AVs arrange fixtures or tournaments between the different AV schools or an inter school sports day.
In addition to helping with English, or on the sports’ field, AVs make a big impact by running after-school clubs – these include debating, French, modern dance, art, music or drama; AV volunteers have run talent shows, produced school newsletters and magazines or started a choir. Many AV volunteers choose to brighten up classrooms by painting them or decorating the walls with educational murals from the alphabet and numbers to world maps and the solar system – let your imagination run wild and leave your mark!
Each day you can spend time socialising in the staff room, usually over a cup of chai (sweet tea) or lunch. This is a great chance to get to know you fellow teachers and learn more about them. They will be keen to talk about where you are from, your family and life at home whilst you can practice your Swahili! The teachers will be on hand to show you round and advise where to shop, the nearest internet café etc. They will also be a good link to other work within the community, with the potential for helping at medical clinics or community centres depending on where you are and how much you want to do outside your responsibilities to the children.
At weekends and public holidays you can stay at home or travel further afield. You may want to continue work on projects you have started, such as painting a classroom or run an inter school sports competition. Alternatively you can go to the local town to do some shopping, check emails, catch up on news from home, or meet up with other AVs, visit their schools and travel to different parts of the country such as the Ngorogoro Crater. Tanzania has the longest school terms of all the AV countries, often broken up with a ‘half term’ in the middle. Many AVs use this to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or head to Zanzibar.
You will live in designated AV houses with fellow volunteers. An important part of the AV experience is living in local accommodation, shopping at markets, being invited to fellow teachers’ houses as well as entertaining the staff and fellow AVs. Depending on the size of the house you may be living with between two -six AVs. Other AVs from your group will be nearby, clustered around Arusha and Machame and there will often be a chance to meet up. Arusha is one of Tanzania’s most developed and fastest growing towns at the base of Mount Meru. It is the gateway to Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha National Parks. Machame is a small village about 20 kilometres from Moshi in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and one of the starting points for trekking the mountain. Both towns have access to internet cafés and banks for exchanging currency.
The house will probably have a bedroom(s), a communal/cooking area and somewhere to wash. Electricity is intermittent at best, you may not have running water or flushing lavatories. Instead there will be an outside pit latrine or ‘long drop’. You will need to collect water from a local source using jerry cans, or buckets, just like everyone else. You will quickly get into a routine of sterilising the water by boiling it. Whatever house you get, you will grow to love it and soon feel very much at home!
We encourage independence and so you won’t have someone cooking and looking after you – it’s a chance to step up and take responsibility for yourself. You will be given a daily food allowance and will be expected to shop at and cook for yourself. This is the best way of getting to know people, being involved in the community and gaining an understanding of living there – you are not a bystander watching from afar.
The AV representative is never far away and there whenever needed. They can be contacted by phone 24/7 and will visit you during your project.
As well as travelling at weekends, AV offers you the chance to include approximately four weeks of independent travel at the end of the venture, to ensure a good balance of volunteering and adventure.
Tanzania and other parts of East Africa have lots of exciting and beautiful places to explore which you won’t get a chance to do in your weekends or half term alone. Many AV volunteers want to stay on and travel but don’t know if others on the project will too. Therefore we include this extra time to ensure that you experience as much as possible and know that you will have people to travel with.
From our experience, travelling is often when problems occur, from lost passports to getting ill – that’s why we have the motto, ‘Once an AV, always an AV’ – we will still be there to help you, even though your project has finished.
Different travel options Tanzania AVs have done in the past include:
- Travelling down to Zambia to visit the famous Victoria Falls at Livingstone
- Going on a wildlife safari
- Trekking Mount Kenya or Mount Kilimanjaro
- Rafting the source of the Nile in Uganda or bungee jumping over it
- Gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
- Visiting the beautiful beaches of Kenya or Zanzibar where lots of water sports activities or sunbathing time awaits!
You will need to finish in Nairobi for your return flight home but until then it’s up to you. The only rule is that you don’t travel by yourself.
“I want to thank you and everyone else at AV who helped my son when I couldn’t be there to help him. Dan told me today that he would enthusiastically recommend AV to anyone interested in a gap year venture. I would too!”Mike
We do always ask our applicants why they have chosen that particular location as they might be missing out on a hidden, gap year gem! One of these hidden gems is East Africa.read more
It was with a swirling mixture of excitement and sadness that we boarded the Kenya Airways flight back to Heathrow but we all concluded that the slog of work had been totally worth it. We had made life long friends, seen so much and not wasted a minute of those 5 months.read more
He told me over and over again what a great help you guys at AV have been to him and the other members of his group.read more