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From a YES student: Volunteering in New Orleans

April 13, 2010

Joseph Rutakangwa is a YES student from the Morogoro region of Tanzania. Joseph has been living in Monroe, Iowa, and attends Prairie City-Monroe High School through the U.S. State Department’s Youth Exchange and Study Program.

Over spring break, he went on a missions trip to New Orleans with Teens Encountering Christ (TEC).

TEC group in New Orleans

The New Orleans trip was the best experience I’ve had since I came to the U.S. It was the most fun and exciting thing of everything I’ve done or participated in so far.

The first fun part of the trip was an 18-hour drive. We traveled through Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi and finally, Louisiana.

Before entering New Orleans, we drove through a 24-mile bridge. That was amazing! Since I was born, I had never seen such a long bridge. Being in a van telling stories with friends was something I’ll never forget.

When we entered New Orleans, I was surprised because it was about 90% similar to Dar es Salaam’s wealthy wards such as Oyster Bay and Upanga. I felt like I was in Tanzania. [Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania.]
We arrived on Saturday of 13th March, and everyone was expected to be tired because of the long trip, but instead, we stayed up until about 1 in the morning!
The following day was Sunday, and we went to worship at a Methodist Church and then we went to the St. Patrick’s Day parade and went on a tour that lasted until that night.
The rest of the week was work. I did cleaning, painting, drywall, trimming, sidewall, cooking and worked at the thrift store. I didn’t know how to do any of these tasks before I started, and I was not the only one. So I learned the skills and did them by myself. That was awesome! I’ve always wanted to have some carpentry and construction skills.
The whole trip was a blessing — I met loving people, made friendships and met with other friends I met at TEC. We all had such a wonderful time. The group will go again this summer, and I wish I could go, but I’ll be back in Tanzania!
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