White cacao beans are very important because its very rare and they are 100% and give food different flavor profiles, and they grow in the mountains. Javier Wong know for ceviche and his guac, a national dish in Peru. In order to make ceviche it is important to have the best quality and the freshest fish and ingredients. Shaman’s are one of the only people who perform Spiritual baths to keep away negative vibrations and spirits. It’s important to rub water and rose on your neck and back. This consists of getting sprayed, rocks rubbed on your face and other important steps.

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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 →


It has been a thrilling and wonderful ride. My trip to Italy was incredible and I learned so much about not only the world but myself too. Every city we visited was special in its own way. I loved the scene of Milan and our bike tour of Romeo and Juliet’s home of Verona was one of my favorite moments. I loved the beautiful glittering water of Venice and wandering around the museums in Florence. Learning about the Palio races in Siena were very interesting and we even got to see a trial run. It was amazing exploring the historical city of Rome and seeing all the major monumental sites. Interacting with my other trip mates was fun and sometimes we had the most hilarious moments. I remember playing sharks and minnows (basically hide-and-seek) close to midnight in Florence and thinking we had really lost a friend because no one was able to find him. Fortunately, he came out and we played another round (we didn’t lose anyone this time). I really enjoyed the cuisine in Italy. The pizza exceeded my expectations and I ordered it multiple times a day. I will really miss the gelato. Every flavor I tried was delicious. It was crazy how I had read about a certain Italian dish and then there I was eating it, like Cacio e Pepe.

I think what surprised me the most was how much everything was different yet the same. I would be walking down the street and look at a building and there would be a centuries-old statue on a building but locals did not seem to see anything different. There it was, a piece of history right there in public and people walked around as if it was normal. I then realized that for them it was normal. I wonder if people from other countries come to the US and are amazed by some of the things that Americans pay no mind to. I think that every place has something that makes it special and unique.

My fellow Wandering Scholar, Ummara, said something along the lines of “Everything here is so rich in culture. It makes me want to learn more about my own culture and find out what makes it so great”. I couldn’t agree more. I would not have expected that going to another country and learning about their culture would make me want to know more about mine. That was incredibly surprising. What really surprised me about myself was how enjoyable being in solitude was. We sometimes had time to explore areas by ourselves and I felt so at peace and as if I belonged. I tend to love being surrounded by friends but in those times of solitude, I could connect with Italy so much more. My dad told me that more than a decade ago he worked in Rome selling bags. I had no idea that my dad was once in that same place and doing the same things as the people that I saw there. It gave me a new perspective and a deep appreciation on how hard my dad has worked for my family.

Global travel has enforced my passion to help others and increase the connection between different groups of people. While in Italy, I could see that immigrants were having the same problems as the immigrants in the United States. I understand that people are going through the same struggles everywhere in the world and we should unify to find steps to solve serious problems. I read the blog post, “Why Build Bridges, Not Walls” and I could not agree more with their message. People in today’s world, do not want to hear from another person who does not share the same viewpoint. They automatically shut off another’s opinion. If we could be patient and listen to what our “enemy” has to say we might find we want the same things or that we have more in common than we don’t. Back in Verona, we were discussing a topic over breakfast. Our tour guide, Devin, said that when trying to debate a topic to say “yes, but” instead of “no, but” because it makes sure it doesn’t cancel out another person’s argument. By listening to one another we can build connections and then bridges where change can come from. I think that’s an important message that I will take along me everywhere I go.

My trip to Italy was really a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful to have been able to go. I want to continue traveling so I can continue to experience new worlds, and build bridges. I think I now have an extreme case of wanderlust. Thank you for reading.

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Breathe in…. Breathe out

The trip was almost 20 days ago and to my surprise, the thoughts have been constant. They stay with me as I think about my past, my present, and my  future. The trip has contributed to a whole new outlook on my day to day life; the beauty in my own city surprises me. I see the city in a brighter color, and although, the skies aren’t as “lit up” in Shafter as they are in Italy, I do linger when I take my afternoon walks.This trip has changed little aspects about my life, but as we all know, the little things count the most (*wink).

It seems, that I’m more grateful for the present. I used to feel troubled when thinking about the future, but with this trip, surprises were on every corner(and I liked it). Literally, one of our tour guides almost sent us down the wrong path and into one of the canals. We were all kids, searching for more, whether it was freedom or souvenirs. The Walking Tree gave us time to explore ourselves while on the trip, and that time was the most beautiful for me. I got to interview people during that time, write my activities down/how I felt about them, and explore with my fellow wanders.

Picture this: kids, running around in a different country, hoping experiences turn into memories that last a lifetime, thats what we were. We all knew this trip would change us, but we didn’t know how close we would get to one another. The experiences were richer than chocolate, and that sentiment for exploring with someone else will never change for me.

Today, I decided to look through all my content of photos and videos. Like I expressed in my instagram post, the moments that I experienced in Italy were going to be a once in a lifetime experience, so my phone was always read for a photo/video depending on the occasion. I do believe in being present and experiencing the moment for what it is, but in those moments, everything was breathtaking and I couldn’t let that go to “waste”. I also had a lot photos of video chats with my family; I can’t express the love I have for all of them, and the admiration I feel towards each and everyone of them. They are the entire reason I have succeed in “life”- the little time I have lived. Through everything, they have been there for me; with the documentation, they have helped me come into contact with the people I need to converse with. I sincerely appreciate/am grateful for everything that has come into my life, and out off this experience.

Thank to everyone, and I can’t wait to have another experience like this one, that will help me better myself, my community and our world. Let’s all start this adventure. read more →