The food here is good. But then again, when have I not enjoyed what I’m eating lol. We’ve settled into a real routine with our food. We eat Chips Mayai (egg omelette with fries), pilau (brown rice) and chicken, vegetable samosas from the Royal Oven (literally a god-send), fruit from the pizzeria, and down about 1 jar of peanut butter a week (I think I’m slowly starting to hate peanut butter). Let me tell you though, I don’t feel satisfied.

I realize I have been utterly spoiled growing up. Everyday, I come home to my parents’ cooking, and they make some fabulous food (most of the time – when mom’s not experimenting…)!! I miss their authentic homemade dumplings, and how the dumpling juice explodes in your mouth when you bite into it. I miss their eggplant and potatoes, and how they perfect the meat sauce every single time. I miss their spicy boiled fish, and how I would need to drink a glass of water when I eat a bite. I miss their soups and noodles, and how it would warm my belly every time.

I think this feeling is more than “missing”. Honestly, I think I’m having some major Chinese food withdrawal, where I literally FEEL THE NEED TO EAT CHINESE FOOD, like now. Is this an addiction? I don’t know man… All I know is that in the future, I’ll never separate myself from Chinese food this long, ever again…

i got malaria and typhoid

I’ve been quite inactive on my blog for sometime now, and it’s mostly due to the fact that I got pretty sick. But before you freak out, I AM TOTALLY OKAY!!

So around mid-June, I felt not at my 100%. I was a bit weak, tired all the time, had a bit of loss of appetite, had diarrhoea, sometimes had fevers and a stuffy nose, and felt really cold at night. But these symptoms came and went and I really didn’t think much of them. It wasn’t until maybe 2 weeks after I started feeling these symptoms that I finally went to the hospital on June 29th. We chose a hospital called CF Hospital here in Mwanza. Apparently this was one of the best hospitals in the city.

Everything went by pretty fast! We had to pay to see the doctor and pay to test my blood and stool. I honestly did not think of anything and Samira and I thought that I might have had a bug in my stomach. When they took my blood I cried like a baby (haha đŸ˜„ I’m really scared of needles). The worst was that the normal area that nurses take blood from on the arm wasn’t working because my veins were apparently too thin, so they had to prick my hand. THAT ACTUALLY REALLY HURTS. My left hand is still a bit bruised from it…

Ok so after the test, we went back to the doctor’s office and he said the results from my stool were clear, but I had malaria and typhoid. I honestly was so shocked I started laughing. Keep in mind I’m really careful of protecting myself from mosquitos (malaria) and drinking tap water (typhoid). I slather on bug repellant, sleep in a net, and eat my malaria pills every day. I only drink bottled water, never eat fresh salads because it would have been washed with tap water, and I even brush my teeth with bottled water. My ability to protect myself like this is a privilege.

Still! I was super surprised that I ended up getting the 2 illnesses. After a talk with the doctor, I purchased 3 days of malaria medicine, and 10 days of typhoid medicine and went home to obediently stay in bed to rest and eat my medicine on time.

After I got the results, I told my family and friends and a lot of people were freaking out. I had to reassure them many times that these 2 illnesses were only scary because we don’t deal with them often back at home. However, these 2 illnesses are very common here and it should be no surprise that I got it. The hospitals are well equipped to treat the illnesses, and I didn’t even stay in the hospital because it’s not that big of a deal!

The weird part about the experience was that before I ate my pills, I was walking around, going to work, eating fine, and had sufficient energy – which was why I really didn’t believe that I was sick. Many people said that when you get malaria, you know that you got it because you can’t even get up from the bed, but I was totally okay!

That changed though after having the medicine. After 24 hours, I had a super high fever that lasted 6 hours. This was rough because my body was using the medicine to battle the bacterias, and it made me super weak. I really really really couldn’t get out of bed because I was so exhausted. As well, I had up and down temperatures. One second I was freezing to death and the other I was sweating like a pig. I had a grand total of 5 blankets on my bed trying to eliminate the chill… 5 blankets!! In Tanzanian weather!! Isn’t that crazy?

The worst part of it all was that I completely lost my appetite. Nothing was appealing to me and I had to force myself to eat because the medicine requires that I eat “fatty” foods like meat and heavy carbs. I was super nauseous because the medicine reacts negatively to an empty stomach and in turn prevented me from eating a lot… What a horrible cycle.

Luckily, after 3 days of dealing with the fever, and each day the fever was less and less in length, I gradually started feeling better. No more fevers meant I gained a bit more strength, and encouraged my appetite to come back. But it took around 3 more days of bed rest for me to have enough strength to walk outside my room… Sad eh? I was honestly becoming SO bored because all I did every day was sleep, eat, and watch movies. I also hated the fact that I was postponing the project because I was sick, but health comes first eh?

July 4th was the first day I went back to work. The after effects of malaria and typhoid are still with me :(. On July 4th, we had a total commute of 2 hours and a 2 hour meeting, but as soon as I got back I collapsed on my bed from exhaustion. I’m still currently very weak in that I get very tired really easily. If I walk for a long distance, I start losing my breath. But my appetite has returned in full and I’m just happy because I can eat again

So this basically concludes my tale of me being sick… A big S/O to my parents for sending funny messages and pictures while I was in bed and to all the friends who checked in on me. Your girl is healthy again!! 😀

the video that is way too overdue

The Serengeti video is finally online!! Click the link below:

*you know the drill, watch in HD and with sound pls!* FB wouldn't let me upload this vid b/c they recognized the song…

Posted by Iris Wu on Saturday, June 25, 2016


I’ve been so busy this past week that I haven’t had a chance to blog đŸ˜„

Here’s a quick little update before I’m off to a meeting at SAUT.

Saturday June 11th, 2016: we went piles shopping! Piles is short for second-hand clothing shopping. It’s called piles because clothes are literally in piles on the floor and you have to dig to find some goodies! I did find a lot of stuff, though. I bought 10 items to an equivalent of around 12$ CAD. Then, we went to our new friend Susanne’s house for a nice dip in her pool. She had the prettiest view of Lake Victoria! We had dinner at a BBQ hosted by one of Susanne’s friends. It was so delicious.

Sunday June 12th, 2016: we participated on a charity walk for an organization that rehabilitates tortured children and their families. It was such a heartwarming day! I was the main photographer and videographer of this event, and at first the kids were extremely shy and didn’t know what to do in front of the camera. As we walked, I held on to the hands of a couple of the kids and they started to warm up to me. They are all so cute and it’s hard to imagine that while they are so young (4 years – 8 years) that they have endured so much more pain and hardship. At the end of the event, the kids were climbing on top of me, wanting to sit next to me or on my lap, offered me their snacks. It was hard to say goodbye for the day! I hope we can come back and visit often because they are such a ray of sunshine.

Monday June 13th, 2016: we held interviews for students at SAUT who were interested in working with us for the probiotic yogurt kitchen. It was a long day of interviews, and the feel of interviews is totally different than what it would be like in the West. It must have been difficult for the students too because the interviews were conducted in English, and I think some of them had difficulties translating their thoughts to words. Also… There was an interviewee named Hitler. Ya, you read right. His parents named him after the dictator! :O

Tuesday June 14th – Thursday June 16th, 2016: these past few days have been very chill where I have been mostly working from home, coordinating the to-dos of the kitchen. We chose the team that we wanted to work with from the students that we interviewed and I’m so excited to finally get this project on the ground running. We also recently found a burger food truck super close to where we live, so it’s been a treat having something close to home!! The burgers are actually the best I’ve ever had – they’re life changing. The patties are all homemade, and everything tastes so fresh!! The hostel housed a group of people from Florida. They are here for a mission and they have been so nice and kind! They are leaving today and left us a bunch of goodies (medicine, toiletries, insect repellant, candy, etc) for us! I’ve been so amazed at how nice and kind everybody we’ve met have been 🙂

PS: June 15th was our monthaversary! We’ve been in Mwanza for a month now… time passes way too fast…

That’s it for now! I’m rushing to get out of the door so we can take the dala dala to go to SAUT. I’ll write more often!! Promise.

milele means eternal

The Maasai were the first to name the land that is now known as the Serengeti. The name “Serengeti” means the “endless plains.” This name is perfect.  When we were driving through the Serengeti, I felt like I couldn’t see anything but the land. It stretched out so far that it seemed connected with the sky!

We saw the Big 5 Serengeti animals (lion, elephant, leopard, hippo, and rhino). And even better, we saw a bunch of animals up close (like suuuuuuuper close). So, I got some amazing footage of the wild animals, although most of them very shaky since we were travelling on a bumpy road. I wanted to emulate just how close we were to the animals in the video. For example, in one of the scenes with the lioness, you can see her fur move with the wind. I also wanted to show the animals in their beautiful natural habitat. One of my favourite scenes of the video is a shot of an elephant with the sun setting in the background. The meaning eternal also has a connection to Ngorongoro Crater. This crater has animals living naturally in it, and they roam freely – they are not scared of humans at all!! The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater were so visually stunning and I hope I relayed some of that beauty through the video.

Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

  • We saw a lot of herds! It is migration season, the animals are moving up north to Kenya in packs. We saw a lot of zebra, wildebeest, and impala herds.
  • The Serengeti sunsets and sunrises are some of the best I’ve ever seen. During the sunrise, the sun was coming up from the distant plains. The sun came up fast, so you can actually see the orange ball move up in to the sky.
  • At night, the sky is so clear that we got a 180 view of the stars. There were SO many. We were also able to see the Milky Way!!
  • We saw lionesses hunting for prey! Once, a lioness was hiding in the tall grass waiting to hunt on a herd of zebras. Another time, a lioness was on top of a tree and attempting to hunt on a herd of zebras as well.
  • This might be gross, but we saw a wildebeest carcass. A lioness just finished hunting and eating and left the carcass super close to the side of the road. It was pretty gruesome but at the same time really cool. The lioness stayed close to the carcass so she can claim it as hers and scare away the hyenas, vultures, and other animals who would try to steal her food.
  • We were literally 2 meters away from a lioness. TWO METERS. If this lioness wanted to prey on humans, she literally could have just jumped into our car and attacked us (thank god she didn’t). We ended up watching her for like an hour haha… We could see her fur super clearly, see her breathing, and hear her growling. She was making this super weird noise for a while, and then we realized that she was actually calling her cubs! So we saw super cute lion cubs!! They actually look exactly like Simba from the Lion King lol (I mean duh, what else did I expect). The cubs were adorable because they were so curious about humans and our car. They kept turning their heads to stare at us, and sometimes tilt their heads in confusion. It was the cutest thing.
  • We saw a hippo running for its life! We were following the lioness and the cubs for a bit while they were walking in the tall grass, and then from NO WHERE, a hippo comes out and runs in full force. (BTW, hippos actually move SUPER fast – I was surprised). At first, I thought the hippo was going to hurt the cubs, but hippos are actually herbivores and are hunted by lions. So it was running to save itself!
  • 2 (baby) elephants crashed our campsite at Ngorongoro! They were looking for food and water, and knew that there would be food and water at the human campsites. I got a pretty cool picture with them somewhat close to them but that was quite dangerous because they are wild animals, and they too move faster than expected!
  • Hyenas roamed our campsites at night. Yup.
  • We saw a rhino and 3 cheetahs! They are actually very hard to spot and usually safari goers leave without seeing them. We got super lucky 🙂
  • A leopard was walking in the grass about 3 meters away from us. I think it liked the attention because it was posing for us, haha.

After the trip, I actually feel super satisfied and content because we actually got to see and experience so much. The only downside to the trip was during the night, it gets extremely cold. I was actually freezing even though I was wearing 3 sweaters and a jacket, and 2 pairs of pants! For someone who has endured Canadian winter, it was definitely weak of me, but eh whatever.

For a full list of the animals at the park, here is the link:


we’re going on a safari!!


If you don’t know what the Serengeti is, PLEASE search it up. Your eyes will thank you.

We’re going for 4 days and 3 nights and we’ll be camping in the wild. Apparently there will be hyenas at night :O WOAH (pray for me lol). We decided to go now rather than wait for August when our internship is almost up because right now we are entering peak season, so the prices are still a bit lower than August. We thought we might save some money and just go now.

We really talked the price down with the Safari owner (thanks liver!!), and we are paying 600 USD for the entire thing + a 30 dollar fee for using the credit card (every transaction here is done with cash). 630 literally includes everything – from park fees, to food and a personal chef, to tents and sleeping bags, to a driver and a safari car, and even bug spray. But thanks to the Canadian dollar being weak a f, the trip costed around 850 CAD. BRB while I cry because my bank account is dead.

Pictures and videos will be up when I come back Monday night!!

what is a good teacher?

Today, we went back to SAUT to give a presentation to the class again. This time, I felt a little bit conflict and even mad about the situation. Our presentation went well, but I was upset as to how the Professor treated his first year students. This professor was an old white man, and it made me upset because I think he is not respecting his students. He cuts them off when they are speaking (keep in mind that students learn in English exclusively when they study in post-secondary, and so this is their second language and they need time sometimes to fully express themselves), he yells at them and treats them like they share 1 brain cell, and he base the students’ intelligence on whether or not they can guess what word he’s thinking (he will say: what is a word that starts with D in a specific context, and he will keep on repeating the letter until students guesses it). It was so cringe-worthy to watch because this would definitely not fly back in Canada. As well, there are power-relations involved as he is a white man teaching students who are black. I wasn’t sure how to deal with the situation. To be honest – I even wanted write a letter explaining the situation to the Vice Chancellor. But, I decided to first cool off and remind myself that this is the first class here that I have attended. Maybe this type of situation and teaching occurs too to black professors to black students.

I came back from the university totally drained, and so I took a nap before meeting Maimuna. She took us to Malaika Resort to inquire about the space for the event she is hosting. The resort is totally made for expats, and I felt that it was inappropriate for an event which is catered to the locals.

After our meeting, we bought 2 pizzas and went to Saaiqa’s house for a girl’s night potluck dinner. She invited a bunch of people from the expats community for a sit down dinner of great food and wine. Usually, I hate these dinners because the conversation is awkward and I’m usually trying to not spill food on myself. But everyone was super nice and chill!! The conversation flowed easy and I did not spill any food on myself!! It is really nice that the entire expats community just takes you in and make you feel a part of belonging. I had a great night!

turning 20 away from home

Woah! It’s my birthday!!

This birthday is quite big for me. I am turning 20 (no longer a teen!) and I am turning 20 away from home. I’m really close with my parents, and they have been by my side every year for my birthday. My mom would cook me noodles in the morning for breakfast as noodles signified a long life, and my parents would think of some quirky way to make my day special. This year, I am with my 3 new friends alone here in Tanzania, but my birthday was one of the best I’ve ever had.

I woke up feeling really great, and went down for breakfast. I got a super cute card from the interns!! They are so sweet and I almost cried (lol)!!! The entire day, I couldn’t believe that I’m 20. Saying: “I am twenty now” was so foreign to me.

Even though it was my birthday, we still had to work. Today, we had to give a presentation to class at SAUT to recruit students to work on the probiotic yogurt kitchen project with us. So we rode the dala dala and we went to SAUT. When we were giving the presentation, the Professor of the class played a super weird name game. He asked the interns to stand in the front and have the class guess who was who. He put my name last, and so by process of elimination, everyone knew that I was Iris. When I waved to say hi, the entire class sang Happy Birthday to me! It was so sweet!! We gave our presentation during the middle of their exam too, and it was so heart-warming that they were singing so loudly, even though we were interrupting their class. The class also gave me a really cute pouch, which I now use as my money bag.

We gave our presentation, and I was really startled by the fact that the Professor ripped someones exam paper out of her hand so she would listen to us present rather than continue to write on the paper. That was scary! After, we went to go see Mary, the Vice Chancellor of the University, and saw Jacob – a new friend that we met at the party on Saturday.

We checked the progress on the yogurt kitchen on campus. It’s almost built! Everything is coming together and we are SUPER excited. After this, we rode the dala dala back to town. We stopped by U-Turn – a grocery store catered to expats. They have Nutella, cereal, cheese, ice cream, and etc to lure the expats in when they crave a bit of home. We bought some snacks for this weekend, and I saw some peanut brittle. I bought a few packets to share with the staff at St. Dominic’s.

The interns retired to our respective rooms and we rested. I felt really exhausted and wanted to take a nap, but the internet happened and I ended up watching YouTube videos for like 3 hours… LOL

We made dinner reservations at the Tilapia, and so we started walking to the hotel at 4:30. We had Teppanyaki!! It was so good!! We had a couple of courses starting with potato pancakes, shrimp, calamari, fish fillet, and chicken with fried rice. It was definitely so worth and the food was A++.

While we were still eating, some Chinese people started to sit next to us. We didn’t mind at all. I heard them speaking in my dialect, and so I was pretty excited that these people came from the same region as China as me. What are the odds that I would meet a group like this in Tanzania, of all places. I said a couple of greetings in Mandarin with them, and continued on with my own dinner. However, it got really weird a bit after. They started talking about how one of their sons beat his girlfriend, who was a black woman while they fully knew that I could speak Mandarin. It was really hard to listen and I couldn’t tune them out. They were talking about the black woman like she was some time of unworthy object or scum. I was actually really disgusted by that conversation and shocked that people would say those things. I didn’t have the courage to say anything to them, and so, we left the Teppanyaki and went upstairs to the patio.

We saw chocolate cake! Since we are celebrating a birthday, we each had a slice of cake. TBH it was totally mediocre. We stayed and chatted for a bit, and then one of our new friends Luqman came! It was totally a surprise too! He came and immediately bought me an entire actual cake. I couldn’t refuse his Tanzanian hospitality. People here are honestly so nice. Luqman came to celebrate my birthday even though I just met him 4 days ago. He told me that he was looking for a birthday present for me, but didn’t know what I liked, and so he thought that he will just buy me food (I’m ok with this). Luqman invited Colin (the host of the party on Saturday) to come too! So, we had cake… TWICE. I’ve never been so full in my life, and I vowed that I probably will never eat again, haha.

We chatted for quite a while with Colin and Luqman. They are super sweet people and I’m still so surprised at how nice people here are and how they will treat you as one of their own.

Colin also said some really interesting things about the Chinese people’s impact here in Tanzania, in terms of a business perspective. The informal economy is huge here! Colin said that approximately 90% of business is in the informal economy. This includes people selling fruit and gadgets on the market, people offering piki piki (motorcycle) rides, and some people in the service industry. However, the Chines has bee totally disrupting the informal economy because they are bringing in cheaper goods and selling them. This causes direct competition with the locals. Because the Chinese are backed by the Chinese government to come and in do business, they have a lot more power and ability to adapt to the market, and offer lower prices. This totally undercuts the locals and their ability to be self-sufficient in the informal economy. Colin said some really interesting points, and I think I might even consider this topic for my final research essay!

Anyways, today was absolutely wonderful and I am so grateful for Andrea, Nuri, and Samira for taking care of me and making sure that every moment, I felt special during this birthday away from home! Thank you 🙂

not my graduation // malaria symptoms

One of the organizations we’re working with is called Education for Better Living (EBLI). This organization focuses on providing education to young mothers, and giving them a second chance in life. Here in Tanzania, women who become pregnant are kicked out of school, so EBLI strives to help these women finish secondary school in this institution and find them job opportunities. It’s honestly a really great organization, and the lead – Bernard is such a passionate, caring, and charismatic leader.

We attended the graduation as guests, and I was tasked of video graphing the event to make a video out of it. The graduation was really amazing! The graduating mothers all matched by using the same Maasai cloth and they each designed their own dress/apparel. The young mothers also put on different shows, like dancing, singing, poetry, acting, and even a fashion show! The mothers were very talented and it was great to celebrate the occasion with them.

We were there from 10am – around 2pm. Because I was taking videos, I was moving around a lot in the really hot sun. I think I became super dehydrated and started to feel sick. All the interns so far have felt unwell, and we automatically assume for the worst, and we think it’s Malaria. Malaria symptoms are like typical flu symptoms (fever, chills, no strength in the body) plus symptoms like diarrhoea. My symptoms matched these exactly, and I was like crap – I have malaria. We left the graduation then and I went back into my room to rest. However, I bounced back pretty quick, so I think I was just dehydrated (thank goooooodness).



The stunning young mothers about to perform a dance:


becoming more independent

We went to Maimuna’s today! She is one of our project leaders and we met to report to her our findings. Again, I can’t really share her project because it’s top secret 😉

We also took the dala dala, which is a really small bus (kind of like a mini van but it has like a billion more seats than it is probably safe to put in). It is the main form of public transportation and definitely very cheap. One way costs around 500 TS, which is close to 30 cents. Can you imagine if the TTC only charged 30 cents??????? I think us taking the dala dala really surprised our usual taxi driver Jane. We think the year before, the interns were not as independent and relied on her a lot, but we are venturing the city and going to different districts of Mwanza by ourselves! We know the routes to the different dala dala stops and we know how to get ourselves to many places now!! Very happy with our progress.

We met Maimuna for a couple of hours where we really furthered our discussion and her vision for the big idea she has. I also helped with a couple of things related to graphic design! Weird that I got put into this position because honestly I only know how to use paint L O L. It’s ok though, the designs turned out not bad!

For dinner, we went to a pizzeria in the city. We really craved the taste of home so we wanted something we were familiar with. The pizzas were actually SO good! The place handmade everything, and it tasted SUPER fresh. I didn’t have much to eat the entire day so I managed to eat an entire pizza by myself :)))))