Travel Journal

Setting Off

(Friday 3 June 2011) by Taylor Young
All right y'all, I'm ready to go. My jet-plane will leave in just a handful of hours. My bag is packed and I'm crossing my fingers that it makes it with me all the way to Dar es Salaam. With two stopovers in Zürich and Nairobi, the first of which is only an hour and a half (!), I'm a bit anxious that one of these transfers might go awry and make for a frustrating arrival in East Africa. I also hope that writing about these fears will somehow obviate the possibility of something going wrong. . . . I guess we'll just have to wait and see!

My itinerary over the next three months is relatively straightforward. I'll spend two months in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, a port city on the Indian Ocean coast. During this time my home base will be the Institute of Kiswahili Research at the University of Dar es Salaam, where I will learn as much Swahili as I possibly can. At some point during these two months I will make two side trips, one to the island of Zanzibar (a major historical hub of the spice trade, which, lest we are tempted to exoticize the spice too much, also involved human enslavement), and another to Arusha and Ngorongoro Crater in the volcanic highlands.

At the end of July I will travel with a few colleagues to Nairobi, from which we'll make our way to the small rural town of Kuria, Kenya (by way of nearby Nakuru). For the month of August we will work on a theater-for-development project in Kuria that includes two components. The primary element seeks to use theater as a mechanism for promoting HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment education, and also attempts to understand and to undermine the social stigmatization associated with having the disease. This project serves as an extension of Prof. Mahiri Mwita's (my Swahili professor) dissertation research conducted while he was a grad student at the University of Dar. When we are not involved in the theater outreach projects, we will spend our time helping students who are preparing for their university entrance exams. These are challenging and competitive national tests that determine the limited few who may advance to undergraduate study. We will be helping local students with English, literature, and mathematics.

After all of this I'll be heading back to Princeton to prepare for one last year of coursework. I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post on this humble blog during the trip (particularly during the latter portion), but I hope to find time regularly to visit the internet cafes near the university campus while I'm still in Dar. Until then, I hope this finds you all well.

Kwa heri,


  • Have Fun. by Abbey
  • Salama Safari!! by Claudia
  • howdy by Mandy
  • Good voyage ... by Cathie & Mike
  • travel well dear man... by daniel
  • by now................ by mom
  • Looking forward to following your travels! by Conrad

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