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Article updated: 2/7/2013 7:25 PM

Travel to Tanzania with DeKalb group this summer

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By Tricia DeBoo

Every two years Tanzania Development Support (TDS), based in DeKalb Illinois, leads volunteers to Tanzania to work on construction projects that help support development in Tanzanian communities. Opportunities are still available for volunteers to join TDS on a Work-Study Safari to Tanzania in July 2013.

This work-study group will join NIU's Tanzania Study Abroad students to help the Nyegina Community construct its first library and community resource center, which will serve primary and secondary students and surrounding communities. "The people directly benefiting from the work are right beside you working as hard as you are and so obviously pleased that you are there," explains Tracey Swanson who was a member of the group in 2009. He went on to say, "They want to get to know you and they fully appreciate that what you are doing together will make a big difference in their lives and in their community."

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In addition to the construction project, TDS volunteers can also attend seminars with local NGOs working on various aspects of community development. These seminars are led by TDS President Dr. Kurt Thurmaier, an NIU professor of public administration. "The TDS volunteers are given an optional reading list that provides background for meeting with the Tanzanian NGO leaders and enriches the seminar experience," Thurmaier said. He added, "The engagement of students, volunteers, and local NGO leaders in fascinating discussions really helps give everyone involved a new view of our world and how it works under conditions of deep poverty."

During the middle weekend of the 2 week program, the group will take an overnight safari in the Serengeti National Park during the Great Wildebeest Migration. "I could never have imagined the awe I experienced in the Serengeti. I was speechless with wonder." said Barbara Eckblad, a volunteer with the group in July 2011. "In the Serengeti the animals depend on themselves for survival. They must protect themselves from predators while searching for prey. Being in the midst of the animals' natural habitat is much different from seeing them at a zoo."

This year's volunteer group will depart from the US on July 4th, and return from Tanzania into US airports on Saturday, July 20. The cost of the TDS work study program is $1,500 plus an additional fundraiser challenge. The $1,500 fee includes the safari trip, meals, lodging and in-country transportation. The cost of the international air ticket is not included in the TDS program fee.

The deadline for signing up for this adventure is March 15, 2013. Additional information and an application form are available at the TDS website at www.tdsnfp.org in the Travel Programs section. Questions can also be directed to Brandi Smith (bsmith@tdsnfp.org) or Dr. Thurmaier (kthur@tdsnfp.org).

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