World Unite! Volunteering, Internships, Cultural Travel

Volunteering, Internships and Intercultural Learning in Tanzania, Zanzibar, India, Morocco, Israel, Nicaragua, Bolivia, China, Japan, Ghana, Galapagos, Ecuador


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An incredible solo traveling to discover unknown – Syahfitri’s internships in Tanzania and Zanzibar

Our participant Syhafitri, winner of our Weltenbürger scholarship, did a pre-medical internship in Tanzania and participated in our World Learner program in Zanzibar, where she learned about traditional medicine from a Zanzibari Herbalist. In our blog, she describes the differences between Zanzibar and Tanzania and tells us, why one can’t go to Tanzania without doing a safari and why her trip will always remain an unforgettable experience for her! 

TANZANIA 

It was a cloudy day on a cold winter, as I left Halle (Saale) to Frankfurt am Main by train. This is my first time to travel alone to a far away country and was kind of excited with what is going to happen when I finally arrived in Moshi, Tanzania. New people, new cultures, and all of the new things that I will face soon!

KARIBU TANZANIA! (Welcome in Tanzania)

The airplane smoothly touched down the runway of Kilimanjaro International Airport after 8 hours flying. It was in the early morning, as the passengers left the aircraft. The weather was nice. The air was fresh and warm. And I, at that moment, was so excited. I couldn’t stop to thank God to bring me so far from home.

After taking my first pictures of Africa I went inside to the airport building and applied my visa in the immigration office. I didn’t face any difficulties in the airport and got a visa for 3 months.

My first impression of Tanzania was, “Wow, the people are friendly and kind! I think, my 2 months residence here are going to be great.’“

A driver from World Unite! – the organization, which organized my volunteering and internship program in Africa – picked me up and brought me to my host family in Moshi. The journey from the airport to my host family’s house was quite far away. It took more than 1 hour by car.

The long road was empty, the birds sang nicely and the sun started to come out from the east. On my left and right side I could see many trees, various crops and an endless view of steppe. Not far from my sight, there was mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with 5895 meter high above sea level. I could see its snowy peak without any clouds which usually covered the top. It was incredible! One of my bucket list has been accomplished. The driver said to me many times, ‘’Oh Fitri, you are so lucky to see mount Kilimanjaro clearly!’’ And oh yeah, it was a nice day being warmly welcomed from both peaks of mount Kilimanjaro, Kibo and Mawenzi. I couldn’t hide my smile along the way to Moshi. It was a great start at the beginning of my adventure in Africa.

 

Syhafitri in TZN 6

My first day in Tanzania was cool. I met almost all of the coordinators in Moshi and few volunteers from Germany who had also an orientation and cultural briefing on that day. We had a city tour together and were shown few places by Joseph, one of our coordinators.

Unlike Germany at that time, Moshi was so warm with its busy town on that day. We could see daladala (minibus), bajaj (auto rickshaw), bodaboda (taxi bike) everywhere in the town. People in Moshi use it as public transportations. The town itself isn’t big, but the center is crowded though. Along the big road we can see a lot of shops, art galleries, supermarkets, local restaurants and hotels. There is also a market, in which people sell their crops, such as beans, maize, bananas, and many more. The local tailors sew their handmade clothes, wallets, bags and headscarfs from Kitenge (a traditional fabric from east, west and central Africa) and sell it with good price in the street.

After having a city tour I was introduced to my host family. Family Tesha. They belong to Chagga’s tribe (the most famous Tanzanian tribe in Kilimanjaro region). My host father is a taxi driver and my host mother is a housewife. There are eight people living in the house, such as my guest parents, their son and his wife, two grandchildren, a housemaid and a worker. The house is big and has front and back yard. They planted various types of flowers and trees in front of the house. On the backyard there are a cowshed, hen houses and hutch. Also a big plantation of banana, sugar cane, maize and mango trees.

Syhafitri in Tanzania 3.jpg

I still remember the time, when I came back from work and chilled under the mango tree in the garden. Or just went around the backyard and talked with people about life while staring at the view of Kilimanjaro mountain. They are warm-hearted people who treated me very well. They always cooked delicious local foods everyday and taught me about the agricultural system which is practiced for their livestock in this family. Besides it, I was also allowed to milk their dairy cows. It was a little bit hard but yet an unforgettable experience!

 

Anyway, this family has the best chai milk tea ever! I always got it every day for my breakfast. (P.S dear chai milk tea, you’ll always be missed!).

Oh yeah, about language barrier, actually my host father and his son can speak english fluently. But unfortunately, another family members can’t speak it well. So, sometimes it was hard for me to communicate or to tell what I want. At that moment, the body language played its role 😀

They also taught me some Kiswahili words (national language in Tanzania). It wasn’t that bad, although I had difficulties at the beginning because of the greetings. I was just confused, with which response I should react to the people if they greet me on the street. But, I could count from 1 to 10 without any problems XD.

On the second day I was picked up by Joseph to go to my placement. It was a health care dispensary and palliative care in Moshi, which is quite far away from my host family’s house. So, daladala for going there and back was required. It is a small hospital with a doctor in charge and five staffs, such two nurses, a pharmacist and two laboratory technicians. They were also kind to me and taught me patiently about how the things are working in that hospital. Even though I have been there just for a month, I already learnt a lot about medicine. My first two weeks were just for adaptation and overcoming the culture shock. I was longing for friends and missed Germany so bad. I had homesick.

But unlike my first weeks, on the next two weeks (my last weeks in Moshi), I could totally enjoy my work there. It was an unforgettable experience to take part in malaria and UTI (Urinary tract infection) test, giving injection to the patients and to learn about the various types of medicines. Another cool thing was, the doctor allowed me to assist her in the room and explained about the illnesses. At that moment I felt like I am a real medical student 😀

On the last day of my volunteering program we had a little farewell party in the hospital. We cooked chapatti (my favorite food in Moshi after rice with coconut milk), mchuzi (vegetables curry) and fried chickens. It was so nice but sad at the same time. It was a little bit hard to leave Moshi after one month volunteering.

 

Some people say, ‘’if you are in Africa but don’t take any safari tour, it means your trip is worthless and less nice.’’ So, on my birthday, I decided to take 2 days and 1 night safari in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It was cool to see four of big five african animals there and enjoy the beauty of Baobab and Acacia trees. Another bucket list wishes have already fulfilled!

The Safari tour was worthwhile though to do, at least once in a lifetime ☺ and this one became one of cool experiences of my life!

ZANZBIAR 

After having a lot of experiences in Moshi and learning about the cultures, I flew to Unguja, an island that belongs to Zanzibar archipelago, which is known as a spice island.

The anxiety came out as I landed in Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. It was in the evening after enjoying the sunset on the flight from Dar Es Salaam. I was worried, mainly about my new flat mates. Are they friendly? Will they accept me? Can I interact with them? And so on. There were a lot of annoying questions in my head as a driver drove me to Stone Town, western part of the island, where I will stay in for the next 4 weeks. I lived in a shared rent house with other volunteers. This time I had to take care of myself, because there was nobody who will prepare delicious breakfast, cook my dinner, give the hot water for me to take a bath and worry about me if I come home late.

Zanzibar is amazing!

I didn’t think before that, this time in Zanzibar would be the best time of the whole journey. As I had a city tour on the next day I felt like, I was in Indonesia. Everywhere I went, I could find most of the women and girls are wearing the hijab (headscarf). Also the moslem there used to say Salaam Alaikum (a moslem greeting which means, may peace be upon you) when they get in to daladala or when they meet people in the street. I was impressed! Besides it, the people are friendly and kind, the foods are super delicious, the beaches and sunset in Stone Town are amazing and I felt quite safe in Zanzibar. Living in Stone town reminds me a lot of Venice in Italy, because it is also like a labyrinth with a lot of small alleys inside. People can easily get lost during the first days in Stone Town.

 

While enjoying the evening in Forodhani Park we should not forget to taste the local foods (e.g Shawarma, Zanzibar pizza, urojo, seafoods, breads, chapatti) and beverages (e.g sugar cane juice with lemon and ginger, tamarind juice, avocado juice, passion juice and many more) in the night market. Most of the foods are expensive but it is worth to try ☺

In Zanzibar I had my agricultural internship for a month. I learnt about herbal medicine in a herbal hospital from the best herbalist in the island, who is famous as Mr. Madawa or in English, Mr. Herbalist. He is a great teacher, who taught me not just about the medicinal plants, but also about an important role of religion (in this case, Islam) in herbal medicine. During the lessons I used to have a lot of funs, because besides theory I had also practice for collecting herbs and making medicines. In other days we had spice tour in Kizimbani, which Mr. Madawa and the local people explained us about the herbs and spices in that area, and also visited ZARI (Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute).

 

Finally, this amazing journey is over. It was an unforgettable experience in my life to learn about many things from a far away country. Being a solo traveler and challenged to discover new things in the new places are not bad at all. I don’t mind to try it again in another opportunity 😀

Baadaye Tanzania! (See you later Tanzania!) ☺

 

Syhafitri in Tanzania 31.jpg

Here you can find all details about Syhafitri’s placements in Zanzibar and Tanzania!

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Hotel and Tourism Internship in China: Sebastian in Beijing

You’re in your gap year and are looking for a way to gain professional experience? You would like to reorientate yourself and would like to get a foothold in the hotel or tourism industry or start to study something related? Sebastian from Germany gained valuable experience in living and working in China during his 6-month hotel internship. Read more:

My internship in China was definitely a great experience! I worked as „Guest Relations Officer“ in a 5 Star Hotel in Beijing. I mainly worked in the lobby and at the reception. This included the concierge service (especially for foreign guests who didn’t speak Chinese), greeting guests, giving local recommendations, etc.

In addition, I answered emails and booking requests from guests in English and forwarded to my colleagues in charge in the hotel.

If there were language barriers between foreign guests and hotel staff, I was often often asked to assist and to translate.

Partly I also worked in the VIP service and in exceptional cases, I supported guests outside the hotel.

Part of my tasks, together with another intern, was collecting feedback from guests and sharing it with my supervisors.

In addition, in my hotel department I was responsible for the English training of the employees and the assessment of the English language skills of new applicants.

I would like to thank World Unite! and my local supervisors for the wonderful support during my time in China.

Best regards,

Sebastian

Read more about hotel internships in China!


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Internship with the Ama diving women at Ise Shima National Park in Japan

Are you looking for a very special internship or volunteer placement in the cultural or tourism sector? Then you’re in the right place at Ise Shima National Park in Japan! Our participant Shima started her internship with the Ama women this week, women who dive here in a traditional way and gather seafood without any diving equipment!

Our coordinators Chris and Julia accompanied Shima from Tokyo to the Ise-Shima National Park for her internship.

Ama women’s techniques of diving in a traditional way without scuba gear and collecting seafood in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way are recognized as a UNESCO cultural world heritage. The Ama women are also considered the inventors of pearl farming.

Interns and volunteers work in the management of the Visitor Center and they support guides with the tours and boat trips. There are tourism professionals who can supervise interns.

Here you can find all information about this internship in Ise Shima.

 


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Penguin and Sea Bird Rescue Center in Port Elizabeth: Volunteering in South Africa

Are you interested in animal and environmental conservation and do you have a special passion for penguins and sea birds? World Unite! participant Jan has volunteered in a penguin conservation project in South Africa for 7 weeks and made lots of great experiences! 

 

Howzit! I’ve chosen the Penguin Conservation Project because the idea of working with these little black and white buddies sounded awesome to me. Also, South Africa sounded like a very attractive travel destination.

However, I didn’t think that I was going to have such a fantastic experience here and that I would friends here, for whom I’d love to be able to stay longer.

My name is Jan, I’m 20 years old and a volunteer at the Penguin Conservation Project in Port Elizabeth. My job here is to feed the penguins, to prepare fish and other foods for them and to wash and hang many, many towels 🙂 Beyond me actual tasks, helping hands are needed anytime at the centre – whether to clean up or the help the staff with their various tasks and activities. The daily walk to the beach is definitely one of the best parts of this project.

For me, life outside of my volunteering project is also a very exciting experience: We live in a large house with about 17 volunteers, located only 5 minutes from the beach. Every morning at breakfast I enjoy the beautiful sea view. Together with the other volunteers I cook every night and do all sorts of things together and it’s a wonderful experience to meet all these people from different countries. In fact, in the past weeks I’ve gained at least three very good friends here, and the first plans for meetings back in Europe are already in place.

I’m here in South Africa during late autumn and yet there are days with over 25°C and we can enjoy our free time on the beautiful beach of Port Elizabeth. I cannot list all my activities here, but the best ones were probably a bungee jump from the highest bungee jumping bridge in the world, a safari in Addo Elephant Park with buffaloes, zebras and elephants just a few inches away from our car, various weekend trips (including a few sometimes challenging, but still amazing hikes and breathtaking views at the end) and ultimately many fun and unforgettable evenings spent together with my new friends.

All in all, I highly recommended this experience and I am very grateful to have made my decision of coming to South Africa. Since my placement is now over, I will spend my last week here in Cape Town and then start my journey back home.

Best regards from PE!

Jan, Germany

 

Visit us on our website for more information about volunteering at the Penguin and Sea Bird Rescue Centre in Port Elizabeth, South Africa!


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Music and Cultural Exchange: The Mapanya Band from Zanzibar excelled in Switzerland

We regularly introduce participants of our programs to our social media community  whose commitment reaches far beyond their actual volunteer or internship placement. Sarah from Switzerland, who did a volunteer assignment in the music academy in Zanzibar last year (you can read about Sarah’s experiences here) organized a musical cultural exchange program and brought her fellow musicians from Zanzibar to Switzerland! Read more:

Sarah reports:

From 06.-20. In April 2018, the Mapanya Band from the Dhow Country Music Academy (DCMA) in Zanzibar traveled to Switzerland as part of a cultural exchange project. The project included workshops with students in Hünenberg (ZG) and Eich (LU), concerts in Sursee, Friborg, Bern and Biel, a cultural exchange with students of the Zug University of Education as well as public workshops and a church event in the parish of Sempach (LU). Several times, the band was invited to spontaneous house concerts and jam sessions. Another highlight was the a short notice invitation to the „Bestival 2018“ in Bern, after a successful concert in Sursee the evening before. The seven young musicians were able to prove their musical ability and flexibility. They have touched people of all ages and thrilled everyone with their enthusiasm. For both sides, the project created countless unforgettable moments. AHSANTE SANA!

I had the idea for this project during my one-month volunteer assignment at the Music Academy in Zanzibar in July / August 2017. The aim of the project was to invite the student band to Switzerland and to offer workshops and concerts at various institutions for a duration of two weeks. In addition to expanding the band’s field of experience, the project also aimed to create space for musical and cultural exchange.

The interest and support for the project were overwhelming! The project was financed by the admissions to the band’s concerts as well as by private donations, which were collected through a charity concert by Sarah, among others. We thank Sarah and everyone involved who made this great exchange possible!

You can find all details about the music academy here.


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Cultural Exchange & Working Holiday in Japan

Would you like to meet local people in your host country and thus learn to understand the local culture better? We regularly introduce participants of our programs here who are committed to cultural exchange beyond their their job, internship or volunteer assignment in their host country. Meet Daniela in Japan, who participated in a cultural exchange of the Japanese-German Society in Gunma!

The Japanese-German Society in Gunma organizes numerous events for exchange between Germany and Japan. Once a month, members can meet with German-speaking people living in Japan and do cultural and other activities to get to know each other better!

In May, our participant Daniela participated in the German-Japanese event. Daniela is currently a participant in our Working Holiday program in Tokyo. After a guided tour at the famous Shôrinzan Daruma Temple and a nice Sushi lunch, Daniela participated in the „German Saloon“ from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, with about 30 Japanese attending. At each meeting participants will discuss a different cultural and practical topic about Germany, e.g. the public transport system, traditions, meals, the Oktoberfest etc.

Japanese skills are not mandatory for this event! The Japanese participants are very happy to practice their German language skills with you. For the participation you are even paid a small compensation. We think: A great opportunity to get to know Japan better and to share your culture with interested local people!

As a participant of our Working Holiday Program, our participants from Germany are cordially invited to join this event and to introduce cultural topics from their home country. Contact us for more information or visit http://www.world-unite.de/en for more information about our programs in Japan! 


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Incredible India – Alexandra’s Nursing Internship at a Hospital in Cochin

Have you always wanted to deepen the knowledge and skills of your studies or training and gain practical exposure? During a medical elective or internship abroad, you can get to know the medical system of another country and also expand your intercultural skills!Alexandra from Great Britain did a nursing internship in Cochin, South India with us. Read more about her incredible experience: 

 

I chose India as my destination to carry out my nursing elective as I had travelled in the Northern area two years earlier and fell in love, with not only the country but the culture and everything in between. So, when it came around to a choice where I would go it seemed obvious! I found World Unite online and they had links with a hospital in Kerala, so I started the process of booking it!

It is very hard to sum up a month spent in India, even after a second visit the country never ceases to amaze me and being able to work in a hospital there it allowed me to really understand the people.

My accommodation was a Guest House in the lovely town of Fort Kochi which I grew very fond of over the month. Antonio was the owner and the coordinator of World Unite! and the contact of the hospital. He really looked after me and the induction on the first day was very useful as it made me orientated to the area. He also took me to the hospital where I was first introduced to the director and nurses who I would be shadowing. The bus ride to and from the hospital was a crazy, loud ride and a bit of a guessing game to which one you should get on as the signs were all in Malayalam which is the local language. However, all I had to do was shout up to the ticket man “Fatima” and he would tell me. By the end of the month they recognised me, and we would always have a friendly chat on the bus.

From my time in the hospital, I have gained better listening, observational, communication skills and an amazing overall experience that I would not have gained if I stayed in the UK.

I was in the hospital from 9:00 till 17:00 Monday to Friday working across A&E, post-surgery ward, general medicine ward and occasionally in the operating theatres. It was interesting to observe the way in which everything was ran and to see patients being treated for illnesses like dengue fever, a tropical disease which you don’t see in the UK. The nurses were extremely friendly and would explain to me in English what was happening. They were also very keen that I kept eating and would constantly share their food with me which was delicious. I was mainly shadowing but could take observations on the patients and help with medications. It amazed me how resourceful the staff were with such little equipment. It certainly took a week to get used to the surroundings and the heat but after that you quickly feel at home.

Things didn’t always come easily to me in India, for example finding reliable food even though there are many choices on the street it was always tough to figure out what would be reliable, but you really just need to get out there and get involved, ask around, make friends with the locals. I learned to embrace the people and the country so much that there was never a dull moment. I miss the Indian food, the colourful clothing, the crazy transport, the smells, the people, the music, the weekends away and more than anything I crave the Indian tea (chai)! In between the cows lying on the streets, tuk-tuks and buses constantly beeping their horns, scooters and motorbikes driving in any direction on the crazy roads and the odd camel or elephant thrown in for good measure- I can honestly say there is nowhere I would rather be.

I will return to India again for my third visit as it is a place that truly has a place in my heart. Thanks World Unite for allowing me to have my nursing experience in my favourite country, it has been the experience of a lifetime, one I will never forget!

Best,

Alexandra (Great Britain)

Click on the Link for further information about Alexandra’s internship location and placement.