Life in Senegal

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I’ve been living in Senegal, Africa for about 3 months. When I first arrived I was asked to write down what I wanted to gain from this experience. I came here wanting to grow and wanting to help. I desired to know myself and the world better.

“Trying to help the world without knowing yourself will be just like a blind man trying to treat diseases of the eyes of others. First, clear your own eyes.” – Ramana Maharishi

After writing down my long list of hopes I wished to achieve during my stay in Senegal my coordinator told me “Now, Whether or not you get what you want out of this experience is completely up to you, we got you here, and now you determine the rest. Good luck”

With that, I was sent off to live in the rural village of Potou with no instructions on what to do or how I would be spending my next 7 months.  After 12 years of being part of an educational system that never failed to have set expectations and deadlines, this was a bit of an adjustment for me. I spent the first week sitting around the house with my family trying to adjust to the completely new lifestyle and attempting to learn Wolof. I was feeling useless and discouraged.

I learn

“The best day of your life is the one which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours- it is an amazing journey- and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” – Bob Moawad

By changing my perspective, I gained an incredible amount of motivation. I remembered the magic power of gratitude. I began to see the beauty in everything once again. I now have a constant craving to learn. I started going off on my own and observing programs that have already been established and seeing ways that I could help to improve them. The potential of change I can make here finally began to excite me. I am living in a state of observation and in doing so I am able to really get to know the people and the lifestyle. I am immersing myself, I have found it easier to distinguish specific problems and come up with effective, resourceful solutions. I am getting to know myself better. I am recognizing and improving my strengths and weaknesses. I am growing, and I am learning that in time, I can help.

  I am grateful.

 Every single day my gratitude grows more and more. I am so grateful for being born and raised with so much privilege and opportunity, grateful for being able to be here, in the magical continent of Africa. I am grateful for being able to see the infinite beauty of this country and its people. I am grateful for the huge support system that my family has been for me throughout my entire life. I am grateful for my family here and their willingness to open their home to me and teach me the ways of the Senegalese. 

I love waking up every morning to the surreal realization that I am living my dream

I love the 4 mile horse cart ride to the gorgeous fishermen's village on the beach

I love sitting behind my house watching the huge African sun set against the rice fields and palm trees

I love the transportation. I love meeting people on the buses, I love sitting on the backs of trucks, having the the wind blow on my face and feeling like I belong in a movie, speeding through the plains on an African safari

I love sitting on the mat outside at night looking at the mass of stars and listening to the melodic Muslim chants and crickets

I love that music and dance are such a huge, huge part of the culture  

I love the overall friendliness of the people, I love having so many small chats with friendly strangers

I love how the bright, colorful clothing of the people contrasts against the red dirt roads

I love the tremendous sense of community, everybody knows everybody

I love the kids. I love, love, love the kids. I love how they laugh, I love their creativity, I love how they play with my hair, I love how they teach me to sing and dance, I love their patience, I love their kindness,  I love learning from them, I love playing with them. I love them, I love everything about them. I love the kids

1 comment:

  1. Oh Kaya - your name means "I can do it" in Tagalog, remember Rowena telling you this when you were a child! What an experience you are having. I admire your courage, optimism, faith, and beautiful ability to uplift and inspire the people around you. Wonderful girl. You are in our thoughts and prayers every day:)