Photo of the Week
West Africa Semester, Fall 2008
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2009-01-26 00:00:00
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As a photographer—yes, I take the title in my juvenilia—this trip has been many things. Firstly, it has been an opportunity: an opportunity to expand my range, an opportunity to build my portfolio, and an opportunity to improve my skill with the camera. Secondly, it has been a test. Third and foremostly, it has been a learning adventure.

West Africa's plenitude of natural beauty makes you wonder if you're walking through God's personal gallery. Picturesque waterfalls, pink lakes, and paramount plateaus. Against all these unparalleled and often daunting vistas, stood a striking people. For the first time in my career, people have been the subjects of my photography. So many compelling faces, so many cute kids. And, as true great beauty is by its nature is trying, I did not partake of all this without challenges. The sand I got in my lens while filming the mystical moonlight retreat at Den—wasn't happy about that. The throngs of people begging me to photograph them at all times—I had no idea how to handle that. The disappointment on the faces of the village children when they discovered that they wouldn't magically appear at the back of my old, film SLR—felt bad about that. The first time that I, begrudgingly, let someone else take a picture with my camera—won't do that again.

Perhaps even more than any technical camera skills, I have learned the danger of reservations. That photo of the boy standing in front of the brush fire with the blazing blood orange sunset in the background; nope, didn't take it. The one with my feet dangling over the cloudy river valley; nope, didnt get that one either. These experiences have taught me a great deal that I can neither quantify nor verbalize but hopefully, someday soon, I will be able to use to capture and create.

One thing does stand out, however: Seize the day, take the shot!

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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Take the shot!

Kinnard Hockenhull,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

As a photographer—yes, I take the title in my juvenilia—this trip has been many things. Firstly, it has been an opportunity: an opportunity to expand my range, an opportunity to build my portfolio, and an opportunity to improve my skill with the camera. Secondly, it has been a test. Third and foremostly, it has been […]

Posted On

01/26/09

Author

Kinnard Hockenhull

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i miss you guys a lot

and as great as it is to be home sometimes it feels really overwhelming and i just want to curl up in a corner somewhere and eat rice with my hands

A fami?

awa

anyhow i created a flickr account for pictures

it is under ameliagoldsmith and the password is a7kist7a

once everyone has everyones e mail we can change the password to something that only the group knows but i will try to start uploading photos today

also i think i am coming back to west africa ( inchallah) in february to do that traveling adventure that i told some of you guys about with my friend lauren

so mbouille and babacar watch out.... i could be there at any moment... pestering you with language questions....

i love you all and can't wait to hear from you all so soon e mail/ call me

alhamdulilai for all of you

love love love love love love you amy

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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you guys me manque

amelia goldsmith,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

i miss you guys a lot and as great as it is to be home sometimes it feels really overwhelming and i just want to curl up in a corner somewhere and eat rice with my hands A fami? awa anyhow i created a flickr account for pictures it is under ameliagoldsmith and the password […]

Posted On

12/10/08

Author

amelia goldsmith

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DearAmy, Cameron, Cecily,Emmy, Kinnard, Laura, Scott,Shelby, Lizand families and friends,

I have been thinking of you since I got up this morning, knowing that you were still on your flight to New York and that many of you have hours of connecting flights before you will arrive home to your families, all of whom are surely anxiously awaiting your arrival.

It's an empty feeling sitting in our familiar cyber in Thies without you guys in the vicinity...Mbouille and I arrived back here late last night after dropping you off at the airport, and I am stillconvincing myself that this portion of our adventure has come to a close...that we were lucky to spend so many special moments, learning and growing and laughing together in West Africa and that our adventure will continue through e-mails and phone calls, visits if we're lucky, andthemanystories you'll have asyoutake the next big steps in your lives, continuing your travels or starting university.

Parents, just a note to you to say thank you--thank you for trusting us with your wonderful kids, for the support you provided them throughout the program, and the support that you will give when they get home and try and come to terms with what they've seen and done. Your thoughtfulness, patience, and compassion will help them readjust to America after 3 months in a different corner of the world. Please be forgiving if they are wearing 'strange' African clothes, have dyed their fingernails, insist on using Pular words in conversation, or haven't had a haircut in 3 months... :)

You'll be in our thoughts and hearts tomorrow as we celebrate Tabaski, and far far into the future. I miss you already!

love,

christy

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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A lonely day in Thies

Christy Sommers,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

DearAmy, Cameron, Cecily,Emmy, Kinnard, Laura, Scott,Shelby, Lizand families and friends, I have been thinking of you since I got up this morning, knowing that you were still on your flight to New York and that many of you have hours of connecting flights before you will arrive home to your families, all of whom are […]

Posted On

12/8/08

Author

Christy Sommers

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Hi everyone,
My flight out of Dakar (the capitol of Senegal) is currently delayed, but nevertheless I am homeward bound. We all got free passes into the VIP lounge due to the delay, so I can't complain. Free drinks, free internet, air conditioning, etc... basically heaven. Or the twilight zone, considering how I've been living the past three months. The whole process of leaving has been pretty overwhelming; from figuring out how to pack the African drums I made, to the long group discussions about culture shock and readjusting, to hugging my amazing Senegalese friends for the last time in who knows how long.
It's amazing how the hardest thing to leave behind is my vast new West African family (Father Diallo, Uncles Babacar and Mamoudou, Mamas Liz and Christy-- honorary Africans...), and yet the only thing I truly look forward to returning to is my wonderful American family and friends. What a clear reminder of the strength and importance of love.
I definitely will be writing again soon when I have more time, but I had to get something out at this very significant moment in my life. As every ending is a new beginning, we face challenges as yet unknown to us. But I believe we are all stronger than when we arrived, and I personally feel better equipt to face the challenges of life.

Thank you to my companions these past three months, American and Senegalese. You have made my experience everything it has been, and I'm so happy to have shared this life changing experience with you all.

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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Leaving home to go home

Shelby Campbell,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Hi everyone, My flight out of Dakar (the capitol of Senegal) is currently delayed, but nevertheless I am homeward bound. We all got free passes into the VIP lounge due to the delay, so I can’t complain. Free drinks, free internet, air conditioning, etc… basically heaven. Or the twilight zone, considering how I’ve been living […]

Posted On

12/7/08

Author

Shelby Campbell

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Hi all. At this moment ( exactly 16:03) some dragons students are busy packing some others are running their last errands; and as you may guess it's so sad to see that after having spent three months of wonderful moments together in a group of eleven people. I don't want to anticipate and tell you about how everything went in details... Actually, I can't ; knowing that each of them ( of us?) has had a great but probably different experience. During one of our closing ceremonies, last night I could feel how each of us was feeling about getting seperated but also extremely happy to tell about how rewarding this experience has been.

From the first day, when they got the chance to attend a senegalese baptism right at their arrival to their last day here in Dakar running errands, so many things have happened. I'm definitely sure, as I could feel it from each of them they are all so excited to tell you about ( especially those who have never gotten the chance to come West Africa) their experience and how much they have learned.

I know it's not an easy thing to tell about or listen to a three month experience that took place in a place so different from the U.S, but all what I can say is they have a lot to say and show. However, what I would suggest to you their parents, friends, relations etc, is to be patient and compassionate. For many reasons; but I would just mention the fact that you probably will see in some/all of them change, maturiy, open mindeness etc. And i think that's what you or they were looking for when they signed for this program. For, as the african saying goes: " the more you travel the wiser you become". I would not say that they are coming to teach or give and not receive; I just want to let you know that the more patient and compassionate you are with them the more you will hear from them; and the more you hear from them the more inspired you might be to exchange with them and at the end, I believe each of you will profit from it and learn a lot.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm really impressed by them. At times it was really hard; certainly some of you who kept on reading our yaks already heard about most of it. But I'm so proud to see that each of them has a feeling that any situation they went through or pushed in wasworth doing and that they've earned a big amount of treasure from it/them.

So, I'm sad today to see these great people leaving tonight, but at the same time I'm greatful for you their parents who gave them the opportunity to participate in this program but I'm also greatful for "Dragons" who've made everthing happen.

I wish everybody in the group to get back home safe and healthy.

Thanks.

Mbouillé

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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Coming back home

Mbouillé Diallo,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Hi all. At this moment ( exactly 16:03) some dragons students are busy packing some others are running their last errands; and as you may guess it’s so sad to see that after having spent three months of wonderful moments together in a group of eleven people. I don’t want to anticipate and tell you […]

Posted On

12/7/08

Author

Mbouillé Diallo

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    [post_date] => 2008-12-07 00:00:00
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Well its our last day, and I dont have words, really, excpet for I am sad sad sad to leave, but have found the apropriate mentality needed for returning to the states. Here is a last email I just sent to my mom, saying last thoughts, and congratulating her for taking a job as a Doula, a companion for woman giving birth. I figure as far as parting words go, this sums it up fair enough.

Its our last day and in just over 12 hours, we will be sitting on a plane to NYC. We are a little emotional and just had an amazing time at this beautiful beach and I am glad we have one more night together. And I am preparing to go for the next 24 hours without sleep. Should be fun. I am charging my cellphone now so I should be able to call you tomorrow when I land/when you wake up. I already talked to Anneke and we are going to meet up at about 1230 and grab lunch and she will lend me a jacket because Allah knows I will be freezing my African bum off. And then I will be home. Make sure there is money in my account. I am thinking I will need about 60-70 dollars, at the very most. And I have taken out about 50 since we last talked about it I think. I have to make some small purchases but I am just thinking taxi, and food... and a plethora of much-needed lattes. So there you have it. Yes, it will be weird, difficult and very emotional, but I am expecting all of it.. so don't worry about me, I will work my way through it all. And yes I have pictures.. 700something. Not really from this last leg because of lack of camera, but others will have photos, too.
And neene (mom in Pular),I just want to say that I think your new Doula undertaking is a wonderful thing. I am about to go share it with my group, because I am so proud and surprised and impressed, and I know they will feel the same way (just so you know, I have talked about you/described you so much, they always tell me that they can picture you perfectly in their head and that they would love you, etc. Its cute). And maybe its because of my experiences here surrounding birth, family, women, and cycles of life, I almost cried when I read you were starting that, and I hope it goes well.
Anyway, I have to go finish packing (slightly impossible), tell my diarrhea to take a hold for the next 48 hours, and cry. But I am ready to be back in America, although every cell in my body does not want to leave. Its tough, but I cant wait to see you and hopefully Dad, too in the airport in beautiful Portland, bouncing up and down with eager smiles. I will be wearing jeans, a Cubs shirt, brown earrings, and hopefully some kind of a scarf in my hair.
Love you, see you soon.
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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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Final Hours

Laura Chase,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Well its our last day, and I dont have words, really, excpet for I am sad sad sad to leave, but have found the apropriate mentality needed for returning to the states. Here is a last email I just sent to my mom, saying last thoughts, and congratulating her for taking a job as a […]

Posted On

12/7/08

Author

Laura Chase

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Overall, how would you rate your trip?

I have barely begun to put my experiences into the context of my life. | Adventures can be awesomely disjointing and disorienting and this one certainly has been so for me. Exploring the cities we visited has been one of the most rewarding parts of my Dragons experience, especially in the way that it has shown me the power of getting lost. Getting lost in Labé's bustling, sprawling market gave me the chance to grow in a new way.To the make the choice to press on or turn back, to choose to panic or remain calm, the choice to phone the instructors or to find my own way.To learnof a new way home, of new places to visit, and of newstrengths. So getting disjointed, disoriented, confused, and truly lost can be the knowledge, wisdom, and experience giving opportunity at the heart of life's biggest adventures. | I have yet to find my way home—really, I'm still in Dakar—so, I cannot truly rate my experience. I've just begun to catalogue the ways that Africa has changed me and I imagine I'll have to begin work on a new edition once I arrive in America: once I discover if I still find the air of my home sweet after breathing in the delicate, crisp air of Africa's mountains and the heavy smog of its cities. So maybe when I am old, and I've got the dust of a few more continents in my lungs, I can give yousome sort of rating.

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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Rating

Kinnard Hockenhull,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Overall, how would you rate your trip? I have barely begun to put my experiences into the context of my life. | Adventures can be awesomely disjointing and disorienting and this one certainly has been so for me. Exploring the cities we visited has been one of the most rewarding parts of my Dragons experience, […]

Posted On

12/4/08

Author

Kinnard Hockenhull

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Parents,

Below is the international return flight itinerary. We hope you are getting excited to see your kids!

December 8th

South African Airways FLight # SA 203

DKR - JFK

3:05am - 7:05am

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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Flight Itinerary

Dragons Admin,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

Parents, Below is the international return flight itinerary. We hope you are getting excited to see your kids! December 8th South African Airways FLight # SA 203 DKR – JFK 3:05am – 7:05am

Posted On

12/4/08

Author

Dragons Admin

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The instructors asked us to write a journal entry about how we will tell this part of our life stories...

To tell this part of my life story I will have to include the attaya, the overstuffed buses and the painted store signs. I will have to tell not just of the plight of the Talibe but also of their yellow bowls and naked feet. I will describe the smile on the face of the child, hisbelly swollen and tiny teeth browning. I will tell of the peoples' passion for Titanic,Maggi, and Barack Obama. I will tell of this trip as my ultimate perspective, my point of reference, my reality check. My greatest challenges and easiest laughs. The simplest pleasures and toughest questions. Sweet as Blue Cow condensed milk but also bitter as Senegalese eggplant. I will tell of how my constant state of surprise and disbelief made me surprised at nothing and believe everything. Of how its hard to remain unconvinced whenstanding inthedilapidated waiting area ofa city'smainhospital,or walking by school buildings still padlocked in late October. I will tell of the cars, motos, cows and West Africans that changed my perception of space, significantly speeding up my heart rate daily. I will tell of things mundane because theywere so far from being so, and of things fascinating because they were as abundant as green oranges or offerings of sweet attaya. I will tell of how my family and home were never replaced but rather introduced to my new families andmy new homes, until my heart was brimming over likemy kado-stuffed backpack. Of the old men in hats andscarfs,and the bikes they ride throughcities and villages alike. I will tellof howthis journey served as a reminder, a reminder that after the CNN special or HBO documentary goes tocredits the challenges remain right here where they are, the people remain just as they have always remained. I will tell that the kilometers I traveled, from the Big Apple to the tiny village, from the mountain base to the mountain top,via buses, planes and tiredfeetallowed me to see the stark contrastto the kilometers traveled by most here, from well to hut, farrow to cooking fire and back more times than seems possible. I will telleverything knowing that I am telling nothing. That it's merely the firstmeter of fabric, the first tasteof ceeb.

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West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

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This part of my life story

Emmy Masur,West Africa Semester, Fall 2008

Description

The instructors asked us to write a journal entry about how we will tell this part of our life stories… To tell this part of my life story I will have to include the attaya, the overstuffed buses and the painted store signs. I will have to tell not just of the plight of the […]

Posted On

12/4/08

Author

Emmy Masur

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