Reflections on a Hyde Center trip to Tanzania

Aidan Gildea '19, Social Media Editor

From the moment I was born I was introduced to the notion of ‘worldliness.’ At only three months old, my family and I moved across the Atlantic to Luxembourg, leaving the comforts of Americana behind. The move was the result of my Dad’s job, and while it may have been easier for my parents to simply decline the offer, they were courageous enough to embrace the change.

For the first five years of my life, I grew up in a foreign culture. While I attended an International School, I was in the minority as American. My juvenile perspective was formed through connection with people of different backgrounds, and this seems to have immutable effects on my character today. In an inexplicable sense, my time in Luxembourg influenced my decision to join the Hyde Scholars program. Having spent a large part of my life outside of the US, I have always been inclined to travel and understand other cultures.

The Hyde Center made this a possibility for me. This past February I set off for Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania alongside BC High classmates, a trip I had never pictured myself going on. Despite my love for travel, I was definitely nervous leading up to the departure date. Going halfway across the globe – without my family no less – was daunting, but I knew it was something I had to try. I’ll save you from the cliché ‘life-changing’ spiel, but in truth, I learned a lot from my time there.

If I were to sum up the spirit of the Tanzania trip in one word, it would be ‘welcoming.’ From the moment we arrived from Loyola High School, the students were there, greeting us with smiles, ready to help unload our bags from the bus. They were genuinely proud to welcome us to their school and into their homes, and that instantly alleviated my anxieties. With each trip to a local site, each meal, and each and every conversation, I came to find that generosity and compassion were core to the Tanzanian identity.

Their disposition to give rather than to take creates a truly benevolent atmosphere, and I am forever grateful that I was able to experience it. Was I nervous? Yes. Did the trip challenge me? Yes. But do I regret going? Of course not. My childhood, along with my family, pushed me to take a chance on Tanzania – and I think you should too.