Before I had even boarded onto the plane to Senegal, many thoughts ran through my head. What would the people I care most about be doing back home without me? What would life be like upon arrival home from Senegal? Would anything really even change? Eventually I came to the realization that the more I thought about the trip and the future, the more stress I was putting on myself. So I decided I was going to just pause life, and go into the trip going with the flow and soaking up as much as I could. Doing so, my experience throughout the trip was nothing short of amazing. Meeting generous locals opened up opportunities for me to take a look at my “inner self” in the mirror for the first time ever, and this eventually helped me to recognize what parts of me needed work.

Global travel has truly helped me to meet face to face with issues in the world that I had never really paid mind to previously. I would say that going through such an experience is playing a role in my newfound interest to educate and be educated on problems occurring not just in my country, but all over the world. I wish to keep up with such problems, and hopefully act on them in a way that will help somehow.

Reading the “Why Build Bridges, Not Walls?” blog post, I agreed with the idea of building bridges. With today’s reality of separation in our country, I believe that putting up “walls” only causes problems. Being that we are all human, it only makes sense to me that we all be treated the same and learn to work things out with each other, rather than block others out and treat everybody differently.

One thing I will take from my experience in Sengal and apply to my life, is the idea of hospitality. I have never been the type of person to offer help or peace to individuals without getting to know them first. Looking at it now, I was treated with an immense amount of hospitality based primarily on respect. So with this, I wish to do the same and treat everybody with respect and offer open arms to people in need of my help.

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With only two days until departure, it’s very hard to describe my exact feeling. I’m excited for the things yet to come, most of which I would probably never have experienced if it  weren’t for my opportunity to go on this trip. I feel butterflies in my stomach for the nervousness of knowing I will be put into situations that I have never been in before. I feel a sense of worry for the family and friends that will stay here while I go away for a month. Overall, my main feeling is ready; ready to dive in, ready to soak in as much as I can about my surroundings and experiences, and ready to make memories and open my eyes to everything in a deeper sense than I do at the moment. My last day home will definitely be with my family, as I say goodbye until late July and receive words of courage and good wishes for my trip. read more →

Of all things I am most excited for in Senegal, I am especially excited to try the food. While doing research on different types of dishes Senegal has to offer, I found many that I would definitely try. One that I found appealing was a dish called “Pastels”, which is a deep fried pocket that is stuffed with fish and spices, and dipped in tomato sauce. One dish that I found that is eaten on a daily basis in Senegal is boulettes de poisson, which is a dish of fish balls fried similarly to a meatball, but seasoned with garlic and chili powder. A dish I found that is typically served for desert is Banana Fritters. Banana Fritters are usually cut up banana slices battered and fried, and then topped with powdered sugar. The food that the people of Senegal prepare is fairly easy to prepare, mostly consisting of fish and meats and spices and rice, not really requiring much hard labor of any sort. I found that breakfast is usually eaten from 6 to about 9 a.m in Senegal, while lunch is between 12 and 1:30 p.m, and dinner between 8 and 9:30 p.m. The most interesting thing I discovered about the cuisine was how food is eaten. I found that depending on how many people are eating, many eat from the same bowl using only the fingers on the right hand or a spoon. The children are taught to eat only from the part of the bowl that is directly in front of them, and to avoid contact with persons still eating. With etiquette being very different from here in the United States, I’m sure I am bound to find more proper ways of eating in terms of the Senegal dining values. read more →

In the three videos, one thing that always seemed to catch my attention was the food. Being that I have a big taste for all kinds of foods and spices, I find myself trying to compare foods that I’ve tried that may taste the same based off of appearance. Interestingly, I found that common tradition among the people of Senegal is to not allow children to speak when eating, and only allow the children to eat around the center. This has a meaning, as it teaches children things like  proportional values and to be patient in life. read more →