4-H’er vis­its Tan­za­nia

The Star Democrat - - FRONT PAGE - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­times.com

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY QUINN WIL­LIAMS

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.

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