The British Council Families Association (BCFA) is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and we're talking to our colleagues who travel the world…with their families. We're starting with Angela Hennelly, Country Director Tanzania.
You're Country Director Tanzania – what else have you done?
I've been Director Operations East Asia Exams, and worked in South America, Spain, Cameroon and Middle East North Africa, mainly in English and Exams.
Who do you travel with?
These days, I travel with my family - Edward, my husband, children Lola and Ruaidhri, and Johnnie the dog.
What have you discovered in Tanzania?
The beautiful birdsong that greets you just before dawn. People tend to get up with the larks. I get up at 05.00am and arrive at my desk by 07.00am to beat the gridlock. I miss the worst traffic jams, and it's a great time of day to get organised before the meetings start.
Why did you choose Sub-Saharan Africa?
Our son was born in Cameroon, where we have very fond memories. We enjoyed that posting for the strong sense of community, the music, and the people we knew there.
Have you had any challenges, travelling with a family?
One difficulty was how to get Johnnie, our corgi, from Hong Kong to Dar es Salaam. None of the dog handling agencies in Hong Kong had ever taken this route. Only one airline would agree to take him due to the length of the flight. However, thanks to staff at Hong Kong airport, Johnnie arrived safe and sound. And by working directly with the airline we saved costs.
Have there been any benefits to your family, living an international life?
My son was born in Cameroon and identifies as African. When we moved to Tanzania, he was very excited to return to his homeland and immediately found himself a local sparring partner. He's into boxing. He really is a citizen of the world, and thrives on change.
My daughter is on the autistic spectrum and has been welcomed into the local community with open arms. We've been able to start a social group for her and she is enjoying her new experience. My husband is looking forward to walking up Kilimanjaro and learning how to garden. Johnnie is making waves and revelling in his new garden. I love Tanzanian tea!
Have there been any particular challenges for your daughter?
There's not much provision for autism in our current location, but we did some research as a family and we approached schools with our needs. The international school said they were unprepared to work with her for two or three years, but a local school welcomed her and said they'd work with us.
Now, Lola moves between schools, and has a routine. In the local school, she sits by the door so she can leave or go to the library when she wants – these are often important for children on the autistic spectrum. She has a local educational assistant who's been working with her for three months, and kids in the class recognise Lola. She's part of the community.
At the international school, two special needs specialists are working with Lola as a foundation for their future programme, and the kids are gradually getting to know her.
Tell us something you miss.
I miss the contrast between city skyscrapers and beautiful country parks in Hong Kong. The hiking was brilliant, and it's a nation of food lovers. The variety and quality of the food is unbeatable.
What do you want us to know about your office in Tanzania?
We have a hardworking team. We're a relatively small group, and sustainability is a challenge. There's a clear determination in the air to make things happen…and come out smiling.
What would you like to say to your colleagues?
I'd like to thank them for their warm welcome and their clear sense of purpose. I also appreciate their patience each morning as I struggle to find the piece of paper with my new Kiswahili words.