24-year-old Lea Verstl is a kulturweit volunteer at the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation. Lea has been very impressed with her mentor Nassra Nassor. The two are working on a documentary series together.
When I arrive to start work at state-owned Zanzibar Broadcasting Company, my new mentor Nassra Nassor welcomes me to the production department, and shares some cultural background about her homeland: "The principles of Zanzibari culture are love, peace and hospitality." I will come to learn that Nassra is a person who truly embodies her principles. From the very beginning, the 34-year-old producer generously introduces me to local culture outside the workplace as well.
Nassra helps me get to know and understand my new surroundings. I experience Islamic holidays and weddings. She takes me shopping for a headscarf, and confidently guides me through the colourful chaos of the streets of Stone Town, calling, "Twende zetu", or "Let's go", whenever I pause in confusion among the innumerable stalls in the food market.
Despite our different cultural backgrounds, we are similar in many ways. She, like me, has always dreamt of being a journalist ever since she was a little girl. "As a journalist I can speak out and express criticism," Nassra says. She is critical about the current state of reporting in Tanzania, for instance: "The media focuses too closely on politics and the parties. Social problems like women's rights, poverty and the health care system are ignored." These are issues Nassra plans to explore in more detail in future.