REL 675: Experience Tanzania: Religion, Society and Culture
January 8, 2020
Today was day one of three dedicated to pre-trip classes. We had two different readings, on the religious traditions and cultures of Africa and cultural values. My homework before class was reading them and writing two questions per reading for class discussion, as is the homework for two of the three pre-trip classes. Since I recently finished a class on Christianities of the Global South, many of the basic descriptions of Christian theology in Africa was familiar to me. So… I found myself more drawn towards the cultural aspects of the readings and discussions. Community is a HUGE center of culture in Africa. In more rural areas, apparently, people are more open to talk and discussions don’t require one side convincing the other to join their viewpoint. The idea of time is also a bit different than here. In Tanzania, social conversations are important to the community where talks of family matters, business, etc. are conversed with friends on the street for 10-15 minutes. From my understanding, people are generally interested and vested in the lives of their friends and acquaintances. This thought reminds me of what I call Southern “porch talk” culture where friends talk on the porch (or area) as they are departing and yet they keep talking, usually unconsciously delaying the depart through conversation. I’ve found myself deep in this “porch talk” before where I want to talk with friends I haven’t seen in awhile for extended periods of time. Colombia also has a different view of time where punctually cannot be relied on in the rural areas as they are mainly of two-sided dirt roads. I wonder how time will change for us. Will our community, our class, come back with a new perspective of time? Will we be more open to social and flexible time? I am sure many of us will come back with new-to-us concepts as we will be confronted with a culture different from ours. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the new time and new ideas. For a new day tomorrow to learn about the general African and specific Tanzanian culture. For now, I am excited for tomorrow’s reading which includes thoughts on the music culture.
— Ainsley Grey ’20
About the Tanzania Study Tour
THE TRAVEL DATES
Jan. 11-27, 2020
Religion Prof. Andrea Ng’weshemi
This trip is set to accomplish many goals. There will be discussions from several speakers such as Tanzanian professors, religious leaders, and the local folk, along with plenty of opportunity to explore the diverse cultural and physical aspects of Tanzania by visiting contemporary sites and national parks. The learning focus will touch on topics such as religious tolerance and inter-faith cooperation.