March 24, 1997 - News Herald: Clay Bazzel served for two years in Tanzania, in east Africa

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: The Peace Corps in Tanzania: March 24, 1997 - News Herald: Clay Bazzel served for two years in Tanzania, in east Africa

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Clay Bazzel served for two years in Tanzania, in east Africa

Clay Bazzel served for two years in Tanzania, in east Africa

P.C. man learns value of volunteering

Young teacher views a 'different world' on Peace Corps tour

Troy Espe

The News Herald

Clay Bazzel is 28 years old but a recent tour with the Peace Corps made him feel like a child again.

Bazzel served for two years in Tanzania, in east Africa. He learned a new land, new culture and new language.

``It's just completely different,'' Bazzel said. ``It's a different world.''

Now Bazzel has returned to Panama City, where he is substitute teaching at his alma mater, Bay High School. He's spreading the values of volunteering, hoping young adults will take stock in helping others.

Bazzel arrived in Tanzania in June 1994. He and other Peace Corps volunteers took a 10-week intensive course in Swahili, which is Tanzania's native language.

Bazzel remembers waiting for his host family after he arrived.

``It's kind of like being an orphan,'' Bazzel said. ``You don't know where your home is. You don't know who your parents are. You feel like a little child.''

Bazzel taught chemistry at an advance science high school. He instructed 75 students at a time in a 45-person-capacity classroom.

``It was like teaching at a small college,'' Bazzel said. ``I've always been interested in helping developing countries and helping people who haven't been as fortunate as me.''

Bazzel gained a new perspective on education. Most Tanzanians don't go past primary school. Very few make it to advanced high school or college.

``It's an ideal environment to learn to be a teacher,'' Bazzel said. ``The students are well-motivated. In Tanzania, education is the way to the future.''

Although Bazzel felt like an orphan when he first arrived, Tanzanian people welcomed him.

``They love foreigners,'' he said. ``They want to know everything. I lost my voice many times talking to them.''

Life is primitive in Tanzania. Most people are without electricity. You can't drink the water without boiling it. The toilet consists of a hole in the floor. Tasks like preparing a meal can take hours because there is no refrigeration.

``Everything is survival,'' Bazzel said. ``If you don't do this, you're not going to make it. It makes life so valuable.''

Bazzel enjoyed the simple pleasures of Africa. People communicated well. There was no noise from machinery. In fact, it took awhile for Bazzel to readjust to the rapid pace of America.

During school breaks, he traveled around Africa. He ran into bush men who hadn't seen a white man in 10 years.

``Africa is a wonderful place to visit,'' he said. ``The rewards from traveling, you really can't measure.''

Bazzel returned to Panama City in August. He keeps in contact with his students.

``The students, they write me letters,'' he said. ``They keep in touch with me. We lived together for two years. I miss the friendships.''

Bazzel encourages other to join the Peace Corps or other organizations that serve the third world.

``It's a program that put you immediately in contact with people in need,'' he said. ``You have an immediate impact the minute you get there. There's a sense you're building something.

``As a volunteer, you're a critical importance. If you're not there, nobody else would be.''

© 1997 The News Herald

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Story Source: News Herald

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