Adventuring Abroad with AVC

Hannah Pantaleo is an intern with Africa Volunteer Corps. She is spending three months in Tanzania, learning about nonprofit management and leadership in the developing world. Here is Hannah’s reflection on life and work in Tanzania so far.

“We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.” I came across this quote a few years ago and although I don’t know who first said it, the idea has stuck with me. As a senior in college, I’ve been thinking more and more about the future and life as a post-graduate. I want to challenge myself and learn more about the world. The philosophy of adventure as means to acquire self-knowledge has motivated me to travel to Tanzania and intern with Africa Volunteer Corps.

In my final year at Seattle University, I’m studying International Studies and Nonprofit Leadership. I’ve always had a passion for global affairs and for helping people. I wanted to take this opportunity to intern abroad as a way to combine my university education, my personal interests, and my goals for the future. Interning with AVC has been a highlight of my education– giving me real-world experience in the realm of international development and allowing me to live in and learn from a new culture. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to put my interests and passions to use in the field.

Hannah at the AVC office in Moshi

I love Tanzania for the relaxed nature of the culture and the incredibly passionate people I have met. The individuals I work with take pride in where they live and what they do. AVC has reminded me of the importance of having a deep passion for my work while Tanzania has taught me to take the time to slow down and truly enjoy where I am.

I am thrilled to be interning with AVC. My favorite thing about AVC is their faith in the communities in which they work and the emphasis on the ability of local people to create their own solutions and build their own futures. They look at the famous proverb — “teach a man to fish” — and take it a step further. AVC does not want to teach people how to fish because they recognize that local people already know how to fish, grew up in fishing communities, and are standing by the lake, but just simply lack the tools to get on the water and start fishing. AVC’s mission is to provide those tools. I believe in this philosophy and see it as a sustainable and effective model in the field of development. I hope to share it with organizations I work with in the future.

I’ve been working on a lot of cool projects as part of my internship, such as drafting content for social media campaigns, participating in grant research and writing, and designing a student activism program, but one of my favorite activities has been going on site visits to check in with the AVC Volunteers. I started at AVC just as the 2014 Volunteers began their orientation. I sat in on a few training sessions to hear what they were learning and I was even there the morning they left for their host organizations. Now that they’ve been at their placement sites for a few weeks, it has been exciting to see what kind of progress they’ve made. Each Volunteer speaks with pride, ownership, and confidence about their work. While visiting Philemon at Elsheddai Student Center, I asked him how he was enjoying his time as a volunteer. His entire face lit up as he told me about what the organization does and what he was working on. I could feel his excitement. Seeing the Volunteers thrive in their new work environments makes my work in Tanzania come alive.

Hannah and AVC Volunteer Philemon Alexander at Elsheddai Education Center

I’m still figuring out my exact plans for after graduation, but I know that if I can work for an organization as inspiring and empowering as AVC, I will be living my dream. I hope to continue to take risks, push myself as an individual, and do good in the world.