For the first time in their young lives they are travelling to the vast southern African region.
Their destination is Zambezi, a small town in the west of Zambia – very different from Spokane, their home town in the state of Washington, USA.
Who are they and what are they doing? They are students of Gonzaga, a Roman Catholic University. The university has arranged trips to Zambia for many years now, visiting Zambezi in the North-western province for an intercultural experience.
The students offer classes to Zambians in computer, leadership, and health. At the same time they experience intercultural differences. They get to walk side by side with Zambians, learning about African culture. At the same time they empower Zambians to be self-sustaining.
This year 22 students and faculty arrive in Lusaka on Thursday afternoon. FMZ picks up their luggage with a small truck so that they can go into town to get phone cards and change money. From there they travel to the Guest House at Chilongolo for their first night before proceeding the next day to their final destination: Zambezi, in the northwest corner of Zambia.
Friday is the big day. Three pilots start preparing the three aeroplanes in the early hours, well before sunrise. The students make their way to the hangar before the sun comes up, to take off right after it gets light.
Two of the three planes need to fly twice to Zambezi to accommodate all 22 passengers.
After loading the first three groups, the planes take off, one after the other. They are off on a three hour journey. The morning flight is smooth. The cool air is not turbulent. When two of the three aircraft return six hours later, to take the last two groups of students, the air has warmed up. Now turbulence is inevitable but the roughness of the three hour journey is quickly forgotten when the Zambezi school children sing and dance upon arrival of each plane. The Gonzaga students get involved and learn the African dance moves quickly. What a joyful moment, filled with all kinds of new experiences.
Eventually the singing and dancing stops and the group move on to the Church house where they will be staying for the next three weeks.
Due to flight hour limitations, one of the FMZ pilot needs to stay overnight. He secures the plane and gets himself settled at the lodge. For dinner he joins the team and enjoys fellowship with a great group of young adults.
It is such a privilege for FMZ to be part of projects like this: all that youthful energy being channelled for good.
You can read about last year’s experience with the University team in ‘The Inside Story’ here on this site.