Our semester wrapped up in fitting fashion in Dar es Salaam. Alongside the scuba diving off the coast of Zanzibar or the tanning sessions on the beach, we were regaled by the top ten moments of our semester by Eric; Dayle and Chris provided cards and gifts with unique quotes and memories; Nikolle, Natalie and Kristian awarded the perfect superlatives for us all; and Sarah, Gus and Nikolle talked us through our semester, from acceptance to closing ceremony, with humor and grace. As for Gwen and myself, we loved seeing everyone truly ‘seize the day’ in our last week, as individuals and as a community.

Bringing together ten students beholden to the peculiar inspiration to explore the lesser marked path, who are not just strangers to each other but also to their new found traveling alter-ego, is an exciting experiment that has a similar atmosphere to the one surrounding a game of dice. In the same manner that it is ill-advised to wager on the die if one is prudent of their finances, so too is it a risk to gamble with expectations by assuming this, that or the other about people one has not met or about a region one has never explored. The magic of the experience is not in being proven right or wrong, but in surrendering to anticipation and being caught in the wonder of the unexpected. Of the numerous things that our group excelled at, it was this that amazed me the most. Whether it was the ambivalence everyone had for checking each-other out online before the semester or the casual understanding of the semester outline, the smooth adjustments each made in response to those sudden swings of fortune that a trip abroad so often provides, everyone continually demonstrated the talent for absorbing the experience, good or bad, without expectations, that the mindful so often seek. Without a doubt, all of the students are going home well-prepared to travel (and with a growing list of destinations to boot!), to thrive with the vagaries of life, and to transform their hopes and visions into a concrete life. It is going to be a pleasure to watch this process unfold in the years to come. As for the next few months, most will be going abroad to some corner of the world and all will be reaching out toward their dreams with the confidence and mindfulness we have come to expect and appreciate throughout our shared journey! As for Gwen and myself, we will be continuing our exploration of Africa, one small step at a time.

Safari Njema, Rafiki’s!

And one last inside joke… See? The blond kid does smile!
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