In about 24 hours, I’ll be at our farewell dinner for my time in Senegal. A few hours after that I’ll be flying out, on an extended trip to get home. I’m truly amazed that it’s been more than 3 months, for it feels like a week ago I got here. I went back to my journal from before I left and the first month I was here. The only thing I was scared of was the heat, and to be honest, thats really the only thing I never got used to. (Sure I complain when its 75, but it is chilly)
As I prepare to go home I find my self struggling with how I portray my time here. Before I left the trip was all I could talk to people about. I was so excited, and I had no idea what to expect. I know that this will forever be a part of my story, and I want to reflect it as honestly as possible.
Sure there were downs. Really there were a lot of them. And I know those are the stories that friends and family, and strangers at dinner parties, will want to hear. I also know that a lot of people will have already painted a picture of ‘Africa’ when I tell my stories. Thing is, the the Africa of your 79¢ a day ads, your safari fantasies, your mission trips and starving children, that ‘Country of Africa’ isn’t a reality. I’m not sure how to tell the truth of what I’ve experienced knowing that deep rooted biases, and colonialism have shaped your perceptions of the story I tell since day one.
But I will be sharing, both in ways indirect and direct. Cliche as it is, but this study abroad experience has been life changing. The ways that I interact with others, the ways I look at and advocate in global and local issues, and the ways I experience and express creativity have fundamentally changed. I want to be conscious about these changes, and I hope these changes are able to come through positively.
As I was thinking about my trip I started to list all of the unlucky things that same upon me, and others on the group. But I want to share a list of all the things that might not make as good of a story, images that stick in my mind, and made me feel all sorts of ways. I learned from this beauty, the stillness, and the confusion. I don’t want moments of excitement and drama to make up the stories I tell my self when they are only a small part of my time here. So here is a list of small things.
- Being constantly blown away by everyone’s style. Seriously, I’ve given up, because I cannot compete with the level of beauty and attention that goes in to every outfit.
- The speed and connivence of delivery fast food.
- The absurd number of taxies that make cross city transport a breeze.
- The fact that rain is an excuse to not go outside (will be using this one in Bellingham)
- The days where the evening light makes the whole city seem like its being viewed under a polerized lens.
- Skilled attaya pours, and the foam that comes with it.
- Being able to buy a shot of coffee any where for not more than 50CFA (10¢)
- The smell of fresh baguettes at the bakery down the road from our host family, and the subsequent transportation via moterbike.
- Fresh roasted peanuts and cachoettes
- The alarming but melodic horn of the car rapid.
- Being able to buy anything from a car window while stuck in traffic. Cashews, books, tissues, toys for the kids, pants, brooms, bags of water, limes, bundles of mint, oil cloth, shoes, sunglasses, phone credit, and almost anything else you could ever need.
- Greeting everyone, and being greeted by everyone when entering a room.
- Spicy food, and lots of laughs, and the friends that I made here
So tomorrow when I leave I begin to reflect. Begin to reprocess who I am and how does this experience become a part of that. There have been parts of my identity I’ve had to hide being here, because they’re illegal, inaccessible, or just never came up. There are parts of my identity that I’ve leaned into, new experiences have shed new light and opened new doors. This process is an ever changing, ever flowing, life long process. I remain positive, looking for beauty and peace in all things.
It is with great privilege that I have been able to come to learn in Senegal. I have unlearned so much, and I have learned even more, so please ask about my time and let’s talk about it, and try to have an open mind. I’ll be signing off from blog posts for now, as I take some needed time to reflect and reaclimate to the cold. With love, and always beautiful tomorrows, Sage.