Photo of the Week
West Africa
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2014-12-07 19:24:26
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-12-08 02:24:26
    [post_content] => Salaam Alekeum,

I hope this Yak will find you all doing well.  We are happy, my I-team and I, to inform you that all students took off safely from Dakar today, going to their different destinations.  In fact, after Claire yesterday, Alice, Elise, Alexis, Megan, Anna-Karin, Nathalie and Daniel left Senegal today around 2am.  We wish everyone good and safe travel back home.

Personally, I feel very happy and blessed that we started and ended this course safely and peacefully, and yet tonight I find myself suffering a lot as during the last three months we were connected as a family.

To you my students, I will always be your uncle.

Much love,

Samba and your I-team
    [post_title] => Yak Bu Moujj
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Yak Bu Moujj

Samba Sow and I-team,West Africa

Description

Salaam Alekeum, I hope this Yak will find you all doing well.  We are happy, my I-team and I, to inform you that all students took off safely from Dakar today, going to their different destinations.  In fact, after Claire yesterday, Alice, Elise, Alexis, Megan, Anna-Karin, Nathalie and Daniel left Senegal today around 2am.  We […]

Posted On

12/7/14

Author

Samba Sow and I-team

Category

West Africa

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-04 11:33:47
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-12-04 18:33:47
    [post_content] => Howdy Families,
Here are some things you should know:

When I get home I will want to sleep. And watch TV (though I'm already caught up on Rosario). And then sleep more.

And then watch all the movies from the list Claire gave me, which may take the rest of my gap yuh.

To me, 75 degrees is cold. I did not pack for December in a temperate zone, so please bring blankets, hot chocolate and snow boots to the airport (Megan wants Tim Horton's and Elise's shoes are in her closet).

When I follow 'See you in the morning' with 'Inshallah', I'm not plotting to run away, I'm just not assuming anything.

Plan to get up five minutes earlier so we can greet appropriately. I can't start my day without knowing you slept in peace.

I will expect my younger siblings to make a slight bow when in my presence.

Don't feed me rice for the first week (except Alexis wants jasmine rice bes bu nekk).

I will respond to 'toubab', hissing or any of my three Senegalese names better than to my own.

Please leave space in the day for my four hour attaya sessions. The third service is the best.

If you hear weird splashing from the bathroom, it's just me taking a refreshing bucket shower.

I don't have Ebola. Neither does anyone else in Senegal.

If you see me downing sugary porridge, accept it. I'm working on my jayfonde shape.

Alice has sworn off all material possessions but requests a new wardrobe, a facial and a mani pedi ASAP.

When you hear 'Ana sama yaay?' shouted in the airport, I'm talking to you, mom.

I may speak a strange combination of languages, commonly known as Frolaarf (French, Pulaar, Wolof).

Just a head's up, Anna-Karin's hair looks different now.

Megan will only drink her beverages from a plastic bag or a clean gasoline tank.

Don't freak out when I use my sheets to set up a tangana outside our house.

Are my face and feet tanned or just dirty? To be determined.

Guard your towel at all times. Daniel's been taking the sharing culture a little too seriously.

Sorry for spending too much money in Dakar. I was told 'c'est pas cher'.

Get ready to welcome home my Senegalese spouse. I could only say deeeeedet so many times.

We're all very excited to see you, and a cheeseburger (except Natalie, who never wants to see meat again).

Ba ci kanam,
Senegal 2014

 

 

    [post_title] => What To Expect When You're Expecting Your Senegalese Student
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What To Expect When You’re Expecting Your Senegalese Student

Gabe,Picture of the Week, West Africa

Description

Howdy Families, Here are some things you should know: When I get home I will want to sleep. And watch TV (though I’m already caught up on Rosario). And then sleep more. And then watch all the movies from the list Claire gave me, which may take the rest of my gap yuh. To me, […]

Posted On

12/4/14

Author

Gabe

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    [post_date] => 2014-12-01 16:48:34
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    [post_content] => Dear West Africa semester families,

It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in Senegal! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families:

Returning Flight:
December 8th, 2014
South African Airways #207
Depart: Dakar (DKR) 2:05am
Arrive: Washington, DC (IAD) 6:25am

If you have any questions or concerns about the return – and you’re calling outside of our normal office hours – please leave a message at 800-982-9203 x 130.  Should you need to reach our staff during students’ return travel days (outside of normal office hours), please call our Admin cell phone for assistance: 303-921-6078.

Many thanks,

Dragons Administration
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West Africa

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Return Group Flight Reminder

Dragons Administration,West Africa

Description

Dear West Africa semester families, It is hard to believe that 3 months have passed since embarking on this incredible adventure in Senegal! It won’t be long and students will be boarding their plane back home. Below is a reminder of the return group flight information for eagerly awaiting families: Returning Flight: December 8th, 2014 […]

Posted On

12/1/14

Author

Dragons Administration

Category

West Africa

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-19 17:32:46
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-20 00:32:46
    [post_content] => Our two week village stay ended early Tuesday morning as we sadly bid our host families goodbye and headed to the city of Kolda, stopping in Samba's hometown village for a visit on the way. This morning we visited an NGO that focuses on providing free access to reproductive health education and contraceptives, and we are now making final preparations for the student led phase of our journey, which will begin tomorrow. We will try to keep everyone updated on our progress along the way, however, outlined below is our tentative itinerary for the next two weeks.

November 20 - We'll be leaving Kolda early travel to Kaolack where we'll have the opportunity to explore the city's famous covered market.

November 21-23 - On the 21st we'll move from Kaolack to the Serrer island of Niodior where we'll again be staying with host families. In addition to spending time at home with our families, we have planned a pirogue ride through the delta and a talk from a guest speaker on microfinance in the area.

November 24-26 - On the 24th we will travel to Joal, an city known for attractions such as the largest Baobab tree in Senegal and a Muslim-Christian cemetery.

November 27-December 1 - We'll continue on to Dakar where we'll be able to further explore Senegal's capital city. This includes group day trips to the Île de Gorée and the Île de la Madeleine. On the afternoon of December 1st we'll be traveling from Dakar to Toubab Diallo for transference, where we'll spend our last days together before flying home. [post_title] => X-Phase Itinerary [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => x-phase-itinerary [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-11-19 17:32:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-11-20 00:32:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=112710 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 132 [name] => West Africa [slug] => west-africa [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 132 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 239 [count] => 75 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 7.1 [cat_ID] => 132 [category_count] => 75 [category_description] => [cat_name] => West Africa [category_nicename] => west-africa [category_parent] => 239 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/fall-2014/west-africa/ ) ) [category_links] => West Africa )

West Africa

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X-Phase Itinerary

Elise Silverstein,West Africa

Description

Our two week village stay ended early Tuesday morning as we sadly bid our host families goodbye and headed to the city of Kolda, stopping in Samba’s hometown village for a visit on the way. This morning we visited an NGO that focuses on providing free access to reproductive health education and contraceptives, and we […]

Posted On

11/19/14

Author

Elise Silverstein

Category

West Africa

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-19 17:31:02
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    [post_content] => I'm sitting in my room (hut). I can hear nothing but crickets and the sound of metal clacking against itself at random intervals, always followed by a high pitched scream. The only light in the room comes from a disassembled flashlight nailed to the wall as a make-shift lamp. All the women of the compound have retreated into the boumba, the women's hut, but not before pushing me into my own and locking my door behind them. We're all hiding from a machete-swinging forty-year-old man dressed in a straw ghillie suit. He goes from compound to compound terrorizing women and children with his own army of whip-yielding teenage boys. They call him the kancouran, and he's all anyone in the Seydi compound ever wants to talk about. He's not always scary, either. Sometimes, if you're lucky, at around 2 a.m. he'll put down his machetes and start dancing.

Unfortunately, this isn't a year-round occurrence. It's not even an annual one. The kancouran only graces Manthiankani-ans with his presence during circumcision month. He's only around because seventeen lucky five to eleven-year-old boys are becoming men, a process that takes about a month and involves the boys wearing only togas and living under a tree for a month, where they take a crash course on Senegalese manhood. During this time the boys are not to see or contact any woman whatsoever, so when they return home from their tree every night they need an escort as terrifying as the kancouran to make sure neither the women nor the boys dare to break that rule.

Most of my nights at Manthiankani were spent either hiding from or discussing the next appearance of this masked man, and despite the brevity of my two-week stay, I became as enchanted with him as any of the locals. And on the boys' graduation day, when Manthiankani danced, ate, greeted distant relatives, and celebrated for a straight 24 hours, I was almost sad that the kancouran's reign of terror and mischief had ended. However, the surprise addition of four new host-brothers to my already enormous family quickly made up for his absence.

In the beginning, I could only describe my family here as a tightly wound rubber-band ball or a hodgepodge of wires, each with its own name, story, personality etc. These 25-30 wires (every time I tried to get an accurate count I got distracted because the Seydis feared that if they left me to my thoughts for even a minute I would get lonely) spanned three or four generations. But slowly, the ball began coming undone and the wires untangled. Their names and the relationships that bond them became clearer; although, on a few occasions, mothers felt the need to pull their breast out of their shirts and shake them to explain who mothered whom. The Seydis went so far as to make up songs to make their names a little easier to remember, and their hospitality can only be described as classic Senegalese terranga. They showed me the joys and the struggles of village life and made me feel at home in a place where "home" could not have felt farther away.
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West Africa

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The Seydis of Manthiankani

Daniel Buchman,West Africa

Description

I’m sitting in my room (hut). I can hear nothing but crickets and the sound of metal clacking against itself at random intervals, always followed by a high pitched scream. The only light in the room comes from a disassembled flashlight nailed to the wall as a make-shift lamp. All the women of the compound […]

Posted On

11/19/14

Author

Daniel Buchman

Category

West Africa

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-14 15:21:39
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    [post_content] => Hello from Mathiankani!

Our adventure in Mathiankani  continues and   we have settled into our families and adjusted to the rhythm and pace of rural life in southern Senegal. It is sadly almost the end of  week II in Mathiankani. We started off with this ending week with  more pular lessons and discussions on  development and service, Independent Study Projects. We also visited  a school within Mathiankani to learn about educational issues in rural communities. Earlier today, we visited a small beekeeping co-op in  Sare Koli, another village  20 minute walk from Mathiankani. The co-op is run by eight women and two men and they have gone from just harvesting honey to  making byproducts like candles  and  body moisturizer.  We wrapped up our day with a visit to a “Case de Santé” to learn about health issues that our host families face. While “La Case de Santé” provides basic malaria tests,  few are patients who can afford  the  cost  of   malaria medications which  varies between CFA 600-1000 ($1.3-2). One of the goals of the “Case de Santé” is to purchase at least one thermometer for relatively better malaria testing -they haven’t had a thermometer since the founding of the Case de Santé in 2009.

Aside from these experiences we are having as a group, some of us in their families are learning how to make corn mill porridge for breakfast while others have been introduced to new family chores such as milking cows, fetching water from wells every morning and evening, making traditional “tea” or ataya, and so much more. We are all looking forward to an upcoming party of “lavage des circoncis” , where a group  of young boys who were circumcised   a month ago will be taken to a river to be “washed”. After being circumcised those boys have been staying at the village “initiation hut” learning how to become responsible adults . For the boys, this Sunday will mark the end  of a four week time period without seeing  their mothers and sisters (only their fathers or  male relatives were allowed to visit them at the initiation hut). Also, for the circumcised this Sunday puts an end to their rite of passage and marks the beginning of a “ new life”.  We are all excited to see how that “ lavage”ceremony unfolds and will give you a full report as soon as we have a more reliable internet access next week.

More soon,

West Africa Fall-14
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West Africa

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Mathiankani, Sare Koli, and Sare Ilo

West Africa-Fall 14,West Africa

Description

Hello from Mathiankani! Our adventure in Mathiankani  continues and   we have settled into our families and adjusted to the rhythm and pace of rural life in southern Senegal. It is sadly almost the end of  week II in Mathiankani. We started off with this ending week with  more pular lessons and discussions on  development and […]

Posted On

11/14/14

Author

West Africa-Fall 14

Category

West Africa

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    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2014-11-08 19:52:13
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-09 02:52:13
    [post_content] => 10 dollars. That's the price of a basket of organic strawberries at Whole Foods, of a cheap T-shirt, a bottle of nail polish; it's the price I grudgingly pay sometimes for a Venti Chai Tea Latte at a Swiss Starbucks. 10 dollars is also what Seraphina charges for having sex with a stranger.

A prostitute's earnings in Kedougou haven't always been that low, but with the recent closing of the gold mining camps due to Ebola, business has dramatically decreased. It's been three months now since Seraphina has last been able to send money home to her family in Nigeria and she worries about her four brothers, whom she single-handedly puts through school. Seraphina's family depends on her salary for it is currently their only source of income. And yet are her loved ones ignorant of the way in which their daughter and sister assures their well-being. "I told them I'm selling clothes" Seraphina says and laughs a bitter laugh. While she fears her father would reject her if he knew she was working as a prostitute, Seraphina hopes to one day confide what she was forced to hide to her mother. One day, when she can sit opposite from her mom again, when she has returned to Nigeria, when all of this is over.

For the first time since Seraphina has begun sharing her story with us, I manage to think about what I just heard. I have been hanging on the young woman's lips, trying hard to make sense of as many of her hurried words as possible, completely stunned to listen to a story I can in no way relate to any personal experience. And yet, the life she is describing has a terrifyingly close resemblance to the horrible accounts of human trafficking and modern day slavery I have learned about in a classroom setting. In that sense, the sad and unfortunate chain of events that brought Seraphina to Kedougou almost seems familiar. I cringe when she recounts, step by step, the happenings that led to her misfortune because I recognize in them the pattern of false promises that tempted so many women into the industry. It is incredibly frustrating to imagine how Seraphina would never be in this situation had she only heard of the story of one of them. But because nobody told her, the Madame promising a better life in Mali seemed to Seraphina like a savior and because nobody told her Seraphina didn't think twice when she gave up possession of all of her papers.

Even though I had learned about sex trafficking in school, the issue has never felt tangible. I never expected to personally be faced with the reality of modern slavery, to meet someone who fell victim to this horrible industy and I certainly never expected to be turning the pages of someone's document attesting monthly negative results to HIV tests. But now that I am faced with the unexpected I am completely shocked. How can it be that she's alone? That she has no help or support at all? Her family isn't aware of the weight she is carrying, she's alone in a country whose language she barely speaks and whose authorities try only to fine her for having a forged passport and the police isn't willing to come to her aid at 2 o'clock in the morning when she's being beaten by a client. How can it be that someone like her has fallen through all of the holes of her safety net? It is frustrating to feel like there is nothing I can do to change that. I feel guilty to know her intimate story that she has told with so much humility and to simply look the other way once she has left.

What I can do, is feel nothing but respect for her, a woman younger than myself, who I admire for her maturity and perserverance. Seraphina's wish is to earn enough money and aquire all her papers until next year when she hopes to go back to Nigeria and enroll in Med school. She has wanted to be a doctor since she was a little girl that wished to cure her mother who often fell ill. I hope so much that these dreams come true. Inshallah
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West Africa

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Seraphina

Alice Zimmerli,West Africa

Description

10 dollars. That’s the price of a basket of organic strawberries at Whole Foods, of a cheap T-shirt, a bottle of nail polish; it’s the price I grudgingly pay sometimes for a Venti Chai Tea Latte at a Swiss Starbucks. 10 dollars is also what Seraphina charges for having sex with a stranger. A prostitute’s […]

Posted On

11/8/14

Author

Alice Zimmerli

Category

West Africa

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-08 19:49:44
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-09 02:49:44
    [post_content] => Uma carries herself just like all the other mothers. Her one and three months year old Boubacar constantly tied on her back with a piece of white cloth. She always wears a tee shirt and wrap skirt that are either red or orange tyedyed . From her ears hang gold balls that match her necklace, a present from her husband. She does everything along with the other women, waking at the call to prayer, pounding millet in the giant mortar and pestle, breastfeeding her child, scrubbing the dishes with hay and a bar of soap, she has the same back and forth sway in her body when she gaathers water from the well, and she kindly and lovingly serves her thirty year old husband each meal. Her case is not uncommon, and she is not unhappy, but I cannot see her the same as all of the other women since I found out that she is eighteen.

On our first full half day in our homestays I was led to what I assumed to be the boomba (womans hut) of my village, Saarekoly. My host sister Kadi led me in with her three year old Hawa on her hip. I immediately felt out of place, and not because of my age, or the color of my skin but because I have neither a gorko (husband in pular) nor a baby crying for me. The small hut has about twelve women in it, ten kids, and at least seven tiny babies. As soon as I enter they thrust into my lap a tiny baby boy. They tell me he was born a week ago, but for all I know he could have been born yesterday. He has lots of curly black hair and cant really open his eyes. I am petrified to move an inch with the warm tiny bundle on my lap.

On the bed next to where Kadi and I are sitting, is Uma. There is not much attention on her because her baby  is not that young, but my attention focuses mainly on her. She listens attentively to the rapid conversation and has a voice loud enough to be herd in the crowd. I cannot shake out of my head that she is the same age as me. But while I clumsily hold this baby boy she expertisely cares for Boubacar, her whiny husband and helps maintain the cleanliness of our huge compound.

To me eighteen has become the beginning of my life as a more capable young young adult. My milestones have been graduating high school, working my first job and spending an extensive amount of time away fom my family. Between seventeen and  eighteen Uma moved out of her house, married Moussa, gave birth to a baby boy and only sees her mother on the one day a week that she comes to visit.

Maybe when I am thirty I will have half as much life experience as Uma has now.
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West Africa

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Eighteen

Nathalie Ingersoll,West Africa

Description

Uma carries herself just like all the other mothers. Her one and three months year old Boubacar constantly tied on her back with a piece of white cloth. She always wears a tee shirt and wrap skirt that are either red or orange tyedyed . From her ears hang gold balls that match her necklace, […]

Posted On

11/8/14

Author

Nathalie Ingersoll

Category

West Africa

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    [post_date] => 2014-11-07 05:18:12
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-07 12:18:12
    [post_content] => Greetings from Manthiankani!

We would like to update our families and friends about our rural stays in Manthiankani. We have  settled into our new families and have been given new pular  names. Aside from socializing with our host families under the moonlight, we’ve been learning   Pular and discussing various approaches to doing service in rural communities. We are are busy working on service simulation projects where in small groups students have to assess the needs of the community  of Mathiankani and will design a project  to address any issues. We are all happy, excited and grateful to be enjoying this experience with our generous families. We’ll update you about our adventures here when ever our limited internet access allows. Much love from Manthiankani.

More yaks soon,

Team West Africa
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View post

Voices of Mathiankani!

Team West Africa,West Africa

Description

Greetings from Manthiankani! We would like to update our families and friends about our rural stays in Manthiankani. We have  settled into our new families and have been given new pular  names. Aside from socializing with our host families under the moonlight, we’ve been learning   Pular and discussing various approaches to doing service in rural […]

Posted On

11/7/14

Author

Team West Africa

Category

West Africa

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 111978
    [post_author] => 26
    [post_date] => 2014-10-31 20:04:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-01 02:04:06
    [post_content] => "What I love most about..."

"Okay guys, so silence from here until we get there," interrupted Alice, the week's leader, reminding us that we had decided to make the day's hike to Dindefello's famous falls a silent one.

"Seriously?!" I mumbled to myself, a little peeved about not getting to finish my sentence.

Silence isn't something that comes naturally to me. I'm a big fan of talking. Meditation and long hours of silent introspection aren't generally my cup of tea. Nothing makes me happier than a good conversation, and nothing makes me more anxious than an awkward silence. But what frustrates me even more than silence is an enforced silence for an unspecified amount of time.

At first, I simply repeated the sentence that I had been about to say over and over in my head, so as not to forget it when the ban was lifted. Then, when that got boring, I started trying to think up a song to sing in my head. After failing to remember the lyrics to a single one, I switched to the one thing that I did have completely memorized: Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII--I had prepared it this past May as part of an elaborate promposal plan and never forgot it. After ten minutes, I began repeating "Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day" like a strange religious mantra and continued in this trance-like state until the path closed in on us. We were quickly surrounded by tall stone ridges and humongous mangroves obstructing our view of the sky. Suddenly, the natural echo-chamber filled with the songs of thousands of birds and the sound of wind rushing past tree branches.

My mind went blank. I stopped chanting Shakespeare and listened. There was no longer room for frustration or anxiety. There wasn't much room for anything anymore. The birds took over my brain. The smell of mint filled my nose. My eyes frantically circled looking for the source of the chirping. I stopped minding the silence. I became engulfed in the moment. I got dizzy. It was an overdose of sensation. Soon the chirping was replaced by the crescendo of rushing water. And that's when I saw it.

It was beautiful. I didn't have too many expectations going into this experience, but I certainly never expected this: a 100-meter-high waterfall trapped in a tight clearing, covered by trees, leading into a cozy five-foot-deep pool with a rock covered floor. Before I realized what I was doing, I wound up in the water, taking a shower under the falls. It was the first taste of running water that I'd had in a while and one of the best showers of my life. I didn't even notice that another 30 minutes had gone by and I hadn't said a word.

In fact, I surprised myself by not being the one to break the silence. Our instructor Rebecca was the one who surprised us when she asked to have her picture taken under the falls. After that, we spent the rest of the time laughing, talking, swimming, and taking pictures, but the silence that had preceded it made everything feel so much sweeter. As for What I love most about..., I'm not really sure where I was going with that; it probably wasn't that important, anyways.
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West Africa

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I forgot what I was going to say.

Daniel Buchman,West Africa

Description

“What I love most about…” “Okay guys, so silence from here until we get there,” interrupted Alice, the week’s leader, reminding us that we had decided to make the day’s hike to Dindefello’s famous falls a silent one. “Seriously?!” I mumbled to myself, a little peeved about not getting to finish my sentence. Silence isn’t […]

Posted On

10/31/14

Author

Daniel Buchman

Category

West Africa

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