4-H’er visits Tanzania
Church Hill 4-H’er Quinn Williams, 17, a senior at Queen Anne’s County High School, earned her way to take a trip to Tanzania, Africa, July 23 to Aug. 3, to learn and meet 4-H’ers there
— Teachers used to get to know their students at the beginning of a new school year by asking them to write a letter about what they did for the summer. If that was still in practice today, 4-H’er Quinn Williams, 17, of Church Hill, a senior at Queen Anne’s County High School, would have an amazing story to write.
This past summer, Quinn earned her way to take a trip to Tanzania, Africa, July 23 to Aug. 3, to learn and meet 4-H’ers there. Tanzania is on the east coast of the African continent, far below the equator, south of Uganda and Kenya, north of Zambia and Mozambique. The Indian Ocean boarders Tanzania’s east coast. Most of its lands are found in tropical/ savanna climates.
“I learned about this trip years ago,” Quinn said, “when I watched an older 4-H member give a presentation about when she went on it. Ever since then, I wanted to go. I’ve always wanted to travel, and I love learning and helping people, so traveling to a third world country sounded perfect to me.”
The term “third world” is today generally defined as “undeveloped nations, especially with widespread poverty, many in Africa and Asia.” That’s what Quinn found in Tanzania, a level of poverty she had never seen growing up in the U.S. It was a life-changing experience for Quinn to see it firsthand.
She doesn’t dwell on the poverty, however. Quinn saw her experience there as being an ambassador of the U.S., 4-H and Queen Anne’s County. She traveled with one other 4-H member, Sabina Mantle Torres of College Park, and three chaperones, Mar yland 4-H officials Rebecca Gunderson, Chris Anderson and state 4-H director Dr. Jeff Howard.
Quinn raised all her funds to pay for the trip using a GoFundMe account. The trip cost $2,900.
“That did not include vaccinations and other travel essentials,” she said, like her passport, which she received in April.
“I want to promote this kind of experience to travel and learn in other countries through 4-H,” she said. “I want all 4-H’ers to know these educational opportunities exist.”
Quinn said, “It was especially amazing learning about 4-H in Tanzania. 4-H creates a good future for the youth there. It helps them to support themselves and their families. One of them, Side Zungu, showed us his multiple projects. He is only a few years older than I am, and he was living on his own with his herd of cattle, many goats, and chickens, and his gravel business. His parents moved away to one of the large cities looking for employment. He remained, deciding to earn his living in agriculture.”
It was meeting people like Side Zungu that Quinn saw poverty close up. She described the “makeshift shacks” he had built for his livestock made of sticks and mud.
“Most houses people live in there are made of sticks and mud,” Quinn said. “That’s the way life is there. That’s all they know, as most farms have no running water. The closest water Side had was two miles away. He had to carry it to the animals. The people are very proud of what little they have. They find happiness even in their poverty. They find joy in the most simple things. They are truly grateful for what they have.”
Quinn said, “They accept donations gratefully, but they don’t go around begging, in general. Only once while I was there did a man ask for money from us, and even then, he was grateful for whatever he received. My impression was that Tanzanian people think all Americans are rich. But, we have a lot we can learn from the Tanzanian people about being happy. We, as Americans, seem to be so consumer driven and define that as happiness.”
Rebecca Gunderson, who serves as Maryland 4-H equine and shooting sports coordinator, said, “I agree with Quinn 100 percent about the happiness of the Tanzanian people, even though they have little in material comforts. Everyone there lives in a hut made of sticks and mud. Many places we stayed at while there had no hot water or showers, and many places had no running water at all. At bus stops, restrooms had no toilets as we know them, but holes in the floor — that was a very humbling experience for all of us. Most areas in the nation are very rural.”
Quinn also was exposed to isolated segments of Tanzanian subcultures. She visited the famed Masai tribe of northern Tanzania and learned about their way of life. The Masai practice polygamy, marriage to more than one woman. The Masai men have traditional attire, wearing what appears to be a colorful robe, and carry a wooden staff. The men of the tribe sang and danced for the 4-H visitors, and so did the Masai women. Each group sang a capella and jumped as they sang. The men and women danced separately in organized lines.
While in Tanzania, Quinn and the others got to go on a safari, cave exploring and even to a beach. While there, she bought several Tanzanian bracelets, traditional fabrics and woodcarvings to bring home. She said she felt her tour was complete and worthwhile.
4-H sponsored tours also exist to Japan, Costa Rica, Korea, Finland and Norway.
Gunderson said, “4-H does offer scholarships and grants to 4-H’ers who may not be able to raise all the funds needed, so they can investigate that, if needed. Applications for each trip can be obtained from the Cooperative Extension office, and are due back before Dec. 1.”
Quinn is a member of the Farm to Market 4-H Club. Her project animal has always been swine since she began her 4-H experience when she was 8. She is a member of the Future Farmers of America Club at QACHS and also a member of the school’s National Honor Society.
She returned from her Tanzania trip just before the 2018 Queen Anne’s County Fair began in August. On Friday, Aug. 11, Quinn was honored when the pig she had in the annual 4-H livestock auction was purchased by the Kent Island Safeway, which has been supporting the fair auction for more than 30 years.
Quinn has been invited to visit other 4-H clubs in the area to give presentations about her trip to Tanzania and answer questions about her experiences.
4-H’er Quinn Williams of Church Hill, center, is surrounded by school children in the Tanzania during her visit in July. Children there wear uniforms.