One year down!!!

So as of August 11th I have officially been in Senegal for a year. What a year it’s been, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs!! Thinking back to the beginning of this experience I didn’t know if I had it in me to go through with it. Also, I knew this experience would change me but how I had no idea. Here is a list of some of the changes in myself I have noticed:

– Appreciating the little things in life.

  • Water is one thing I appreciate on so many levels. For example, every time I turn on the faucet in my bathroom and I find that water comes out of it, I am happy. Before this I would have never thought twice about whether water would come out of a tap. Also, the temperature of water. How delicious and refreshing cold water (heck, even cool water for that matter) can be when it’s 110+ degrees; or how much cleaner one feels after a nice hot shower, in my case a bucket bath. At the beginning I would have never thought that taking a bucket bath is a luxury, but when you can heat up your water, it is a million times better then standing under a cold shower.
  • Electricity. Do you sit around your house and worry that when the lights flicker it means the power is about to go out? Probably not (and it’s probably because your lights don’t flicker on a regular basis). However, here I’m always happy when the power stays on.
  • Sitting around with friends and just not saying anything. I have realized in America we do not like silence and if we are among people we have talk or otherwise there is an “uncomfortable” silence. Here I can sit with my family and not say anything and it’s fine.

– Valuing my education

  • I thought that education was a right not privilege, but after living here I have realized how lucky we are to be given an education. I have seen girls who cannot continue with school because their families do not have the $10 tuition fee to pay for another year. These same girls are then forced to marry, usually at a young age, so that their parents no longer have to support them.

– Realizing that I live in country where I as a woman am valued for who I am and not just what sex I am

  • In Senegal I have watched girls get married at a young age. I have watched women denied education because they have to “take care of the house.” I have also had many conversations with men about gender equality and the fact that as women we do have a mind of our own and we are entitled to our own thoughts and opinions. I have also discussed the fact that women are not possessions that a man can have and that our only purpose is not just to serve our brothers/fathers/husbands.

– Not letting things beyond my control stress me out

  • Before, things had to go perfectly for me or otherwise I’d start to stress that things weren’t going accordingly. However, now I just roll with the punches.

– Learning to laugh at the random things that happen in life a lot more.

  • How can you not laugh when you’re in the very back seat of a station wagon, the engine starts on fire, and no one is rushing to get out thus leaving you as the last person to get out of a burning vehicle.
  • Or being in a station wagon with 8 adults, 4 children, and a chicken.
  • Or, almost getting into a head on collision with a motorcycle while on your bike because you’re trying to dodge a group of goats lying in the middle of the road and the motorcycle is dodging a random cow.
  • Or, having to bring a mattress out every night so you can sleep on your roof with the rest of your family because it’s 105 degrees in your room.
  • Or, cheering for yourself every time you go to the bathroom and you DON’T pee on yourself.
  • Or, realizing you just ate food off the ground because “Hey, even though it fell it’s still food from America!!”

These are just some of the apparent changes that I have noticed, I am sure that there are others that I am not aware of. And as my time continues here I know that there will be more changes!



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