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    [post_date] => 2014-01-12 16:31:16
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    [post_content] => The list we all complied of ways to continued to be inspired back on the home turf.
With much love, from all of us, to all of us......

Please read:
  • Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemmingway
  • 3 AM Epiphany
  • As Told by Garb
  • Grapes of Wrath (This is directed at Stephan)
  • American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau is an awesome collection of environmental essays I 100% suggest looking into
Please listen to:
  • Ryan Montbleu Band
  • The Head and the Heart
  • Jake Bugg
  • Matt Costa
  • Josh Ritter
  • Ben Howard (Specifically Old Pine. Seriously haven't turned it off)
  • The Nice Ones (They're my friends back home and seriously deserve some lovin'. Just put out their second album! Get on that, kids.)
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
  • Avett Brothers
  Please watch:
  • Train Spotting
  • All of The Office (best if done in close to one sitting, with cereal. Trust me.)
  • Adventure Time (I'm dead serious)
Aaaaand thats all of our list [post_title] => The Master List [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => master-list [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-01-12 16:31:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-01-12 23:31:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=96491 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 200 [name] => West Africa Fall 2013 Semester [slug] => westafrica-fall-2013-semester [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 200 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 240 [count] => 115 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11.1 [cat_ID] => 200 [category_count] => 115 [category_description] => [cat_name] => West Africa Fall 2013 Semester [category_nicename] => westafrica-fall-2013-semester [category_parent] => 240 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2013/westafrica-fall-2013-semester/ ) ) [category_links] => West Africa Fall 2013 Semester )

West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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The Master List

Rachel Richads,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

The list we all complied of ways to continued to be inspired back on the home turf. With much love, from all of us, to all of us…… Please read: Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemmingway 3 AM Epiphany As Told by Garb Grapes of Wrath (This is directed at Stephan) American Earth: Environmental […]

Posted On

01/12/14

Author

Rachel Richads

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    [post_date] => 2013-12-10 08:56:15
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    [post_content] => Here is a picture of the returning group  - 5 of the 6 students came in to Dulles on the same flight.
    [post_title] => Returning Group at Dulles (minus Rachel)
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Returning Group at Dulles (minus Rachel)

Michele MacDponald,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Here is a picture of the returning group  – 5 of the 6 students came in to Dulles on the same flight.

Posted On

12/10/13

Author

Michele MacDponald

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    [post_date] => 2013-12-09 09:03:11
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-09 16:03:11
    [post_content] => Dear Dragons,

Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for what your organization and instructors have created for our son, Stephen. We picked up a young man (a very stinky, hairy young man) at the airport yesterday who is clearly more contemplative and thoughtful about simple things- like his first bite of pizza or sharing an apple with his mom.

The weeks to come will bring wonderful stories, photographs and emotions, but this voyage will forever be his first hero's journey and we could not be more thankful and pleased that it was with your organization. Please give our love and thanks to Samba, Kempie and Jenny.

With sincere gratitude,

Steve and Nancy Babbitt
    [post_title] => Dear Dragons, Love Mom & Dad
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Dear Dragons, Love Mom & Dad

Nancy Babbitt,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Dear Dragons, Words cannot express the gratitude we feel for what your organization and instructors have created for our son, Stephen. We picked up a young man (a very stinky, hairy young man) at the airport yesterday who is clearly more contemplative and thoughtful about simple things- like his first bite of pizza or sharing […]

Posted On

12/9/13

Author

Nancy Babbitt

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    [post_date] => 2013-12-07 21:20:50
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    [post_content] => Dear West Africa Friends and Family,

We received an update from the instructors that the group boarded their flight out of Dakar and are on their way home. We hope you are excited for their arrival and please let us know what we can do to support. Warm regards,

Dragons' Admin
    [post_title] => West Africa Semester in the Air
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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West Africa Semester in the Air

Tim Hare,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Dear West Africa Friends and Family, We received an update from the instructors that the group boarded their flight out of Dakar and are on their way home. We hope you are excited for their arrival and please let us know what we can do to support. Warm regards, Dragons’ Admin

Posted On

12/7/13

Author

Tim Hare

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    [post_date] => 2013-12-07 18:29:33
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-08 01:29:33
    [post_content] => Our trip is coming to an end right now. I never had this in my mind since at the beginning I thought three months would be so long. Who knew it will go by this fast. I have been thinking about what I learned and what I have done to grow as an individual. There is just so much to process at the end of it all. I just know that I will take home and for the rest of my life my experience here. One thing I know that will live on forever is Omar Balde. I have become Omar Balde and everything that he learned and experienced is now a part of Alexei O'Brien. Long live Omar Balde! Omar has left an impression on everyone around him. I talked to a friend who is from and communicates with Mancankani, Mamadou Djembe. He told me that my homestay little brother misses me. His name is Sayo and him and I were always hanging out and going on long walks having deep conversations and he is only 13 years old. I even have left a mark on my homestay in Thies. Omar Balde will live long in their memories there. Now is the time to also have Omar live long back in my everyday life back in the United States. I must bring him along with me and not leave him behind in Dakar. What Omar has learned I will need in my every day life back in the States. It's all I will ever need in life. They are my life long tools that have no expiration date.
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Long Live Omar

Alexei O'Brien,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Our trip is coming to an end right now. I never had this in my mind since at the beginning I thought three months would be so long. Who knew it will go by this fast. I have been thinking about what I learned and what I have done to grow as an individual. There […]

Posted On

12/7/13

Author

Alexei O'Brien

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-12-07 18:28:07
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-08 01:28:07
    [post_content] => One of my first yaks was about the fact that I felt a stark contrast between being Zach Witkin, and Salif Camara. I wrote that during my first few days of my home stay in Thies, days after receiving my new name. With three months of experience in Senegal, more familiarity with the ins and outs of this culture, a greater ability to speak Wolof, Pulaar, and French, and a better understanding of the socioeconomic infrastructure of Senegal, I feel as if I am better equipped to be part of this amazing, welcoming, and warm society.

Over the course of the semester, our greater focus was examining the expression of identity. While we did not use that phrase, word for word, when discussing the political situations in Senegal and Guinea, or meeting with an animist Marabout in Mbour, that focus drove all of our activities, discussions or excursions.

In a community as ethnically diverse as Senegal is, it has been an enriching experience to see how people from different groups interact and intermingle in society. One observation I had was in the ritual of greetings. Each last name has ties with one or two ethnic groups. Everyone knows their ethnic identity, and can assume each others. For example, my last name is Camara. It can be ether Bambarra, or Pulaar; my family, specifically, is half Pulaar, and half Bambarra. When I tell that to shop keepers they either light up with sort of a familial bond, and give me a big embrace, or politely shake my hand and crack a joke about Pulaar people having large butts (Jay Fonde, in Wolof) because they eat too much, or stealing Biskrem from boutiques. As time progressed, I started to catch on to which last names correspond with which ethnic groups, and would joke with people of the last name Diallo, Ba, or Sow. Expressions of identity come in all forms, whether someone's primary expression of identity is through faith, ethnicity, home village, or clothing choices, to name a few.

For me, a toubab student trying to assimilate into life for a brief period of time, I see the ability to be better able to express who I really am—not who my family or community wants me to be, the most important thing that has gotten my personality and expression of self when I am Zach Witkin and when I am Salif Camara to more or less meld into one person. Over the course of the home stay in Thies, I started to have a better understanding what my role is in my community, and continued to find my niche from place to place.

I will always be grateful for my time in Senegal and Guinea. All the people I have met along the way have shaped my experience into being one that I will take with me wherever I go. Whether it was Alpha, the boutique owner near my house, or Babacar Mbaye's father, an imam in the intentional Sufi community of Dene, they have had an impact on my that is indescribable. The Senegalese community has instilled in me, teranga, the unbridled hospitality and care that everyone exhibits, compassion for each other, and a willingness to go out of one's way, to make another person's day.
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Comparative Identities

Zach Salif Camara Witkin,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

One of my first yaks was about the fact that I felt a stark contrast between being Zach Witkin, and Salif Camara. I wrote that during my first few days of my home stay in Thies, days after receiving my new name. With three months of experience in Senegal, more familiarity with the ins and […]

Posted On

12/7/13

Author

Zach Salif Camara Witkin

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-12-06 09:34:22
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-06 16:34:22
    [post_content] => Dear West Africa Semester Students & Families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival!

Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

December 8th, 2013
South African Airways #207
Depart: Dakar (DKR) 1:55am
Arrive: Washington, DC (IAD) 6:25am

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Friday, 12/6, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 760-709-0848.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Return Group Flight Information

Dragons Admin,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Dear West Africa Semester Students & Families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their planes back home. We are sure you are anxiously awaiting their arrival! Below is a reminder of the return group flight information […]

Posted On

12/6/13

Author

Dragons Admin

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2013-12-06 05:47:58
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-06 12:47:58
    [post_content] => 
These image capture the essence of our transference - the playfulness and fun as well as the depth of thought and reflection. The first image unveils our band - WAFALL! Music video to come. The second represents the core values we have cultivated during our journey together and the final images are of Tapalapa Land the board game - dreams can become realities!
 Photos courtesy of Stephen Babbitt.
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View post

Introducing WAFALL and Tapalapa Land!

West Africa students and I-team,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

These image capture the essence of our transference – the playfulness and fun as well as the depth of thought and reflection. The first image unveils our band – WAFALL! Music video to come. The second represents the core values we have cultivated during our journey together and the final images are of Tapalapa Land […]

Posted On

12/6/13

Author

West Africa students and I-team

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2013-12-06 04:02:35
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-06 11:02:35
    [post_content] => “The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.” –Ivy Baker Priest

Last night, we sat in a circle. We sat together just as we had three month ago when we began our journey and reflected on who we are now, who we’ve become as a result of the opportunities we’ve had, the experiences we’ve created, and the people who have enriched our journey. In the darkness with the sounds of waves crashing almost overpowering our voices, we shared our fears and anticipations for our journey home. While there is a tangible feeling of sadness, we also feel the excitement of beginning our journey of applying the skills we’ve learned and sharing the knowledge we have acquired – sharing the person each of us has become.

We express sadness to leave behind a country we have begun to understand on a more profound level and even call our home, Senegalese and Guinean people who have given generously of their time and energy to educate and share their lives with us, and our Dragons travel community that has become our family – a family that has challenged us and supported us during our hardships and praised us in our victories.

We spent the past four days in the small seaside town of Toubab Dialaw. Protected in a mermaid castle-esque hotel along the Atlantic Ocean, we have filled our days preparing for this “beginning” by looking back, looking in, and looking forward. We have reflected on our powerful time together and the values we have cultivated. We have given thanks and appreciation to each other and the people who have made our experience more than we could have ever imagined. We have anticipated the questions you may ask us when we return home and tried to find ways to share our experiences with you all that honor our experiences as well as represent the multi-faceted stories of those we have lived, laughed, and cried with in Senegal and Guinea.

As you eagerly await the arrival of your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends back onto U.S. soil, the students want to begin to share their new perspectives and discovered expressions of their identities:

What should my friends and family know about me now? How am I different?

I am less afraid of the world and myself.
I have learned to be more independent & on my own.
I am aware of how strong I am.
I have discovered a passion for experiential learning and travel.
I am no longer afraid to ask for what I need.
I am more open to talking about bodily functions.
I am more confident.
I feel better equipped to relate to people who come from different backgrounds and cultures.
I am more confident taking care of myself and getting my needs met.
I am more flexible.
Sometimes I like to eat communally and with my hands.
I understand “waaw” as yes in Wolof.
I might be awkwardly outgoing to strangers and greet everyone I see on the street as well as invite strangers to come eat with me because I have adopted Senegalese teranga (hospitality) and greeting culture.
I am more confident to speak a language other than my native tongue without fear of making mistakes.
I am more considerate, compassionate, and empathetic.
I am more patient with challenges, with others, with myself, and with transportation.
I can eat spicy food now and have a bottomless rice belly.
I only need a bucket to shower.
I can wash my clothes with my hands.
I know myself better.
I have more questions than answers.
I am more comfortable with challenging my assumptions and changing my mind.

While we have mentally prepared ourselves to return to our home culture, re-entry is a process and takes time. At times, reverse culture shock into one’s home culture hits harder than initial culture shock into a different culture. Aspects of our life that used to be in our comfort zone may not be anymore. We must now learn how to respond to our home community with our new perspectives. As such, we would like to ask for your support in our process and learning to be the person we have become in a familiar, yet fresh environment:

How can my friends and family support me in my re-entry into the U.S. and home community? What would I like to ask of them?

Please be gentle with questions.
Please be patient and allow me time to process.
I want to share with you but not all at once and on my own terms.
I won’t be able to express all my experiences.
I may be indecisive at first.
Please support my desire to eat “comfort food.”
Please ask specific questions about my time in Senegal and Guinea.
Please be patient with my transition back into U.S. culture.
Please support my need to observe and reflect during the beginning of re-entry.
Please be open to the person I have become.
Allow me space and independence.
Empower and enable me to share the skills I have learned.
Know that I may be sensitive to things in I used to be accustomed to in U.S. culture (grocery stores, hot/running water, domestic animals/pets, prevalence of English, everyone understanding me when I communicate, holiday consumerism, material wealth, multiple options/choices, cold weather).
Know that I may be overwhelmed at times.
Please allow me to have my spectrum of feelings and emotions as I process my experience.
LOVE ME.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this journey!

To the families and friends of Stephen, Alexei, Grace, Moira, Zach, and Rachel,
Thank you for sharing your son, daughter, brother, sister, and friend with me! I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know and grow with these amazing individuals! I am overwhelmingly proud of the accomplishments of each member of our traveling community! These students have stretched their limits of compassion, empathy, and courage well beyond what they thought they were capable. Each one of them has also challenged me and taught me in unexpected and delightful ways. For this, I am infinitely grateful! While it is time for me to let go of the daily presence of these amazing people for now, I am sending them to you, knowing that they will brighten and enlighten your lives as the people they have become. This is just the beginning…

With love and gratitude,
Kempie
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Preparing for the Beginning

Kempie Blythe,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.” –Ivy Baker Priest Last night, we sat in a circle. We sat together just as we had three month ago when we began our journey and reflected on who we are now, who we’ve become as a […]

Posted On

12/6/13

Author

Kempie Blythe

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    [post_content] => Waves are crashing on the shore outside my window, and the piercing music of seagulls floats in through the window. Wind ruffles the palm leaves and I feel completely relaxed. This has been a week of stepping back for the instructors as we watch our students leap forward and take charge of our small traveling community.

I hear the question a lot when we show up to a new place as a group of strangers from the US: Qui est la responsable? Who is the person in charge here? And it becomes a reflex to step forward and say: C'est moi. Ca va bien? No tuddu? It's me. How are you? What is your name?

Our traveling community has shared an incredible journey together. We have lived in peoples' homes, hiked mountains, spoken new languages, worked alongside a village, danced with strangers, had our hearts captured by an entire village, climbed canyons, asked tough questions, and learned to navigate unfamiliar lands. I watch my students find the way to peoples' hearts in minutes. They show up at a new place and within minutes know the names of the staff and have everyone joking and smiling. They know the words to say in Wolof, Pulaar, and French to make people smile, to inspire people to go out of their way to help us find the best ceboujen, the best omelette, the best music, the best sept-place driver. 

As often happens here in Senegal, I met a woman today who was selling something on her head. Crevettes, fresh from the ocean. She asked me if I wanted some. No thank you, I said, but my eyes must have said otherwise because she took the plastic container of shrimp off her head to show me. Sure enough, the shrimp looked large, delicious, and fresh on blocks of ice. Do I want to buy any? Kind of...

I call Zach over and he starts talking with the lady. He asks her how her day is going. I go to find Rachel, who is charged with the formidable task of feeding the group during the student expedition. She and I come back to find the shrimp woman still chatting with Zach.

"Elle est la responsable," I say, pointing at Rachel, who smiles and steps forward. 

"Ca va? No tuddu? How are you? What is your name?" asks Rachel.

The shrimp lady's name is Aisatou.

"Kajatou Seydi la tuddu," replies Rachel. Aisatou grins and starts weighing out shrimp for our dinner. Mamadou, the manager of the hotel, taps me on the shoulder.

"Vous etes la responsable du group?" he asks (are you the one in charge of the group?). He has something to tell me about the rooms.

"Non," I reply. "C'est lui la responable." I point him in the direction of Zach.

As an instructor, there is no feeling more gratifying than the feeling that your own students have put you out of a job. Tomorrow, I look forward to a day exploring Joal, the Island of Shells, and seeing the largest baobab tree in Senegal , all planned by the students. With less than ten days left of the program, our minds and hearts often return to the thought of leaving this place and what that will mean. We feel ourselves becoming more deeply invested in our small traveling family and in the new people we meet. We know we are going to leave and yet our feet are sinking deeper into the sand of a land we have all come to love. And that's the only way to live-- to let yourself love it more each day, even when you feel the end rushing toward you like the last page of the best book you've ever read.
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West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

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Stepping Back

Jenny Wagner,West Africa Fall 2013 Semester

Description

Waves are crashing on the shore outside my window, and the piercing music of seagulls floats in through the window. Wind ruffles the palm leaves and I feel completely relaxed. This has been a week of stepping back for the instructors as we watch our students leap forward and take charge of our small traveling […]

Posted On

11/30/13

Author

Jenny Wagner

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