International School in Tanzania Forging Friendships Via Varsity Athletics


The IST swim team jumps into the pool to begin a competition

When people think of being part of a varsity athletic team, they think of the work it takes, the training that goes into it and the time management skills students will master; these are all indeed crucial elements. What some people don’t consider is the friendships varsity athletes make with their teammates; these friends become a second family, a home away from home as you often spend more time with the team than you do with your actual family.

Seventeen-year-old, Marina, explains how being part of two varsity teams at the International School of Tanganyika (IST) was one of the most rewarding experiences and was what ultimately helped her transition into her new home. She was on both the swim and the volleyball team.

“Being on a swim team [and the volleyball team] made the transition easier as I made new friends and got to travel around Tanzania,” Marina said.

She tried out for the swim team when she first enrolled in the school in Grade 8, being voted as team captain shortly after her first year.

“Being part of a swim team is like a small family,” Marina said. “Everyone is super nice and caring because it is a team sport and effort. Spending up to 10 hours in the pool every day and 6 am practices made everyone much closer since we were all going through it together.”

Originally from Croatia, Marina and her family moved frequently, and even though she was familiar with the process and the feelings that came along with it, the transition into life in Dar was a scary one.

“The transition was not too bad, but scary of course. I lived in Croatia for 10 years and then in Kenya for 3, so I was beginning to get used to moving around,” Marina said.

Once arriving in Dar, she knew she needed to look for ways to get involved. The answer to her search was an easy one once she saw IST had a varsity swim programme, which included team travel and intense competitions.

Some schools in Tanzania, including IST, compete in the International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa (ISSEA). ISSEA is a prestigious international league of eight schools who compete on a wide range of activities from football, basketball, swimming, and volleyball to robotics and STEM projects.

Focussing on how the team has done this year, Marina was quick to respond.

“I think the ISSEA went well,” Marina said. “I think it was terrific overall and I am proud of the team.”

Marina promotes varsity athletics as what made her time at IST an exceptional one and recommends any new family moving to the area to encourage their children to get involved.

“I would encourage them to join a sports team as it provides you with another family,” Marina said. “At IST, we get to travel all around Africa and bond with the team as well as the rest of the school as sports as are very important at IST and Dar in general.”

According to Marina, moving can be stressful as it’s hard to make each place feel like a home initially. With that in mind, she was quick to say one thing she found extremely helpful with each move her family made:

“Put [yourselves] out there as much as possible and try out new things, that is the only way we find out what we truly enjoy.”

Are you and your family moving to Dar es Salaam? We know this can be a scary transition both for you and your children. We have developed an eBook which takes your through familiarizing yourself with Dar and focuses explicitly on best practices of picking the perfect school for your children. Click here to give it a read!

The eBook in an iPad on top of a water background

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