Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Left My Heart In Dakar: Post Resurrection

I've spent time in Senegal the last two summers and I am feeling extremely homesick(?) because I won't be there this summer. There just aren't any resources for me to make a trip happen.

I say "homesick" because Senegal is a place where I feel welcome. I've never met cooler people. I miss the food, the heat, the Chocopan (Senegalese equivalent of Nutella), speaking Wolof, listening to Wolof, the music, the students, Africulturban, the smell of the ocean... I even miss the occasional goat herd narrowly missing you as you try to get into a taxi.
View from a taxi window.
In honor of my homesickness, I'm going to resurrect some posts from the trips in 2010 and 2011. I hope to get enough money together to volunteer with 10,000 Girls next summer or to scrape together enough French and Wolof skills to work with students from Pikine again. I wish, wish, WISH there was a way to bring them over to Michigan. I WISH I was going to Senegal this summer. I miss everybody and I hope they haven't forgotten me.
I wear these bracelets (that I bought after about an hour of bartering at Soumbedioune Market) when I miss Senegal the most.
I'm crying under my glasses because I didn't want to leave the kids I met in Senegal last summer.

The rest of this post is filled with my memories from the last two summers. Please read, enjoy, and message me with any questions. I would love to talk to you about my experience and guide you towards the best things to do/eat/see in Dakar.

Lastly, I invite you to visit this website: Clean Water for the World. I worked with Clean Water last summer and I absolutely love everything about everyone involved in this organization. 

Senegal 2010: Fulbright-Hays Fellowship Research Trip
This was my first experience traveling abroad. I was away for 5 weeks on a research trip. This is the trip that made me fall in love with Dakar. Although I'm mouthy and outspoken I'm also very anxious. However, being in Dakar brought out my adventurous side and helped me set aside my anxiety. Thankfully, I had some great travel buddies who made this trip extremely enjoyable and the best learning experience I've ever had in my life.
Just a couple of my travel buds.
2. What to Bring People in Senegal? I decided on t-shirts and school supplies.
5. Daily Marriage Proposals... Sorry dudes, I can't be any man's second wife.
6. One of my favorite posts from the trip: Yoff, Kids, and Mangoes
7. Road Trip to Thies... Imagine 5 hours in a van on the bumpiest road ever. Worth it.
8. Another favorite post: E'cole de la Rue (The School of the Street). Inspiring.
9. What I did in my off time: Hunting for Live Music
10. My third favorite post and the coolest pictures I got on this trip: Student Protest on Campus- It looks worse than it was.
11. So frustrating! Language Barriers
12. This one makes me miss my friends: Teraanga, or Senegalese Hospitality
13. My last favorite post, where a relationship started that continued the next summer: Africulturban
14. The one where I got pissed about being a woman in a Muslim country (those marriage proposals started to get to me): Why?!
16. Decompressing: I made it to Paris!

Senegal 2011: Urban Youth for Africa Student Trip
I still can't find the words to articulate how I really felt about last summer's two week trip and I don't know if I ever will. I do know that my experience on this trip was one of the best-worst in my life. I don't really know how else to explain it-- it's been almost a year and I thought I would have the words but they are yet to be found. Until then, here are some of my words from last summer:
1. An introduction to the students.
5. Language and Cultural Barriers: This will happen anytime you travel with students.
6. An introduction to the students of Mame Yelli Badiane
7. A post about Amelia, one of my students. I consider her my niece and I still mentor her.

8. A post where I (politically correctly) let go of all of my frustrations in dealing with teens abroad.
9. The Art of Graffiti in Senegal
10. One of my favorite posts and experiences from this trip: Hanging with Binetou's Family

11. Letters and Language
12. The reason for the trip and my favorite post from last summer's trip: Working With Clean Water for the World
This organization is very near and dear to my heart. Please visit Clean Water for the World's website for more information.
13. The End?
14. Something I didn't write about last summer-- When we arrived home, my best friend picked me up at the airport and when I got into the car I cried and cried the whole way back to my house. I think her favorite part was when I started sobbing after I saw a guy mowing his lawn. My shoulders shook as I cried, "Oh. My. God. I can't believe we just have lawn mowers here! Why do we live like this?" I was delirious. She couldn't stop laughing.

I feel an ache when I think of what I might be missing this summer. Sigh. Time to batten down the hatches and finish my master's degree course work. Until then, I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs from Senegal:

I want ceebu jen and mad fruit...


Unknown said...

Senegal is a beautiful country and wonderful invite you to visit me I am waiting for you.

Lied's Blog said...

Dear Jen, as a Dutch lawyer I am helping african refugees, normally in my OWN country. But now one of them via-via found back his mother living on the streets in Dakar. I'm sorry this has to sound so dramatic you'd think it is the thousandth Senegalese scam. Google me, I'm just an 59-year old Dutch woman. Anyway, if you mail me I can be more specific if you want in the gory detail how my client (now nationality Dutch) and his mom have been tortured in a Conakry prison in 2010, after which hè thought she was dead. After getting asylum in the Netherlands (2011) he built his (simple) life here. With his mother being found back in januari this year all the spectres of the past returned, especially since, in a way, she is dying in front of him for the second time:. when found, she was sick with a melanome on the foot and living on the streets. He found her a place to stay, which hè pays. Also, hè paid all his savings (4000 euro, I have proof) for an operation on her foot. But the foot won't heel and she seems to have a beginning cancer in the liver as well. in my opinion she will die in a year. No use operating on, no money either. The woman (sorry, complicated story again) is originally an analfabetic from SierraLeone. She speaks only pidgin-english and Pular, so she is very lonely in french-wolof speaking Dakar where she fled because of political danger in Conakry. She is Christian. Now I am trying to find english-speaking people who can visit her a bit. A priest would be best. Maybe you know people who know people who can help? If you do, I can ask the client for his mother's address.. maybe, like this we can both help a sick person in Dakar a bit. I hope my e-mailadress comes through the way I gave it. Sincerely,
Lied: lvandeloo@kpnmail.nl

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