Photo of the Week
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    [post_content] => We all remember the basic plot of "The Karate Kid," right? Mr. Miyagi tells the Karate Kid to wash his car and paint the walls of his back yard and the whole time the Karate Kid is like what the heck am I doing this for? All he wants to do is train to fight so he can crush his rival in the big fight. It turns out all those random exercises that Mr. Miyagi makes him do is the best training he could of ever asked for and he wins in the end.

Our Expedition Phase was our big fight - what we had trained for -and the two and a half months leading up to it was washing our instructors' cars and painting their walls (but obviously more fun and less mindless). We spent our previous long car rides watching Samba handle border crossings and annoyed Gendarmes with patience, grace, and just the right amount of appeasement. We listened to Laura and Angelica discuss logistical issues flawlessly and open-mindedly. We stood by Samba while he desperately tried to get Sept Places for a fair price while all the drivers crowded around him and shouted. We experienced Angelica and Laura's breath taking ceremonies that made every new transition feel exciting and reflective.

We did all these things by ourselves during the five day period of Expedition Phase. We made border officials laugh and ask for our hands in marriage. We found the best Tangana with the best omelette sandwiches in all of Cap Skirring. We were honest about our feelings towards each other in a VOMP session and had a breakthrough. We scheduled a boat tour and ordered many taxis. We were stressed at times and laughed at the same times. We grew closer as a group and our individual sense of capability and knowledge sky rocketed.

In the end, we won the big fight. We took some more punches and and our muscles got sore more easily than our instructors but we did it. Thank to our instructors - our Mr. Miyagis - for teaching us skills of a lifetime.
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Fall: West Africa

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The West African Karate Kids

Julia Kelly,Fall: West Africa

Description

We all remember the basic plot of “The Karate Kid,” right? Mr. Miyagi tells the Karate Kid to wash his car and paint the walls of his back yard and the whole time the Karate Kid is like what the heck am I doing this for? All he wants to do is train to fight […]

Posted On

12/27/16

Author

Julia Kelly

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-06 14:10:26
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    [post_content] => Dear Friends and Family,

The West Africa group has arrived in New York on schedule. Thank you for an amazing semester and enjoy the homecoming!
    [post_title] => West Africa Is Back States Side!
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Fall: West Africa

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West Africa Is Back States Side!

Eva Vanek,Fall: West Africa

Description

Dear Friends and Family, The West Africa group has arrived in New York on schedule. Thank you for an amazing semester and enjoy the homecoming!

Posted On

12/6/16

Author

Eva Vanek

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 16:45:36
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    [post_content] => And they are off!

Sans Espoir who is staying to travel in Senegal for another three months.

After a beautiful day in Dakar wrapping up tasks, last-minute shopping, and a rendezvous with the Princeton Bridge Year squad, the West Africa semester gap year students are en route to New York.

We shared our final moments with our favorite meal, eating together out of two giant bowls, oily ceeb dripping off our hands. We shared a circle of thoughts, laughs, and memories on our favorite balcony under the Dakar sunset, and we said our goodbyes amidst taxi drivers and other travelers, only to be reminded that it's just a "see you later."

We miss our group of strong, independent women already! See you sometime, love you long time.

-the I team (and Espoir)
    [post_title] => Ba Benen Yoon! (Inshallah) - West Africa Group is on their way back to the US
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Ba Benen Yoon! (Inshallah) – West Africa Group is on their way back to the US

Laura Chase,Fall: West Africa

Description

And they are off! Sans Espoir who is staying to travel in Senegal for another three months. After a beautiful day in Dakar wrapping up tasks, last-minute shopping, and a rendezvous with the Princeton Bridge Year squad, the West Africa semester gap year students are en route to New York. We shared our final moments […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Laura Chase

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-05 11:33:26
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This morning, back in Dakar, we gathered on the rooftop of our guesthouse – the same one that we stayed in on our very first night in-country, three long months ago – and we expressed our wishes for what we hope to take home with us as we leave Senegal and each other, and what we hope to leave behind. With our cowry shell bracelets in one hand and a handful of Senegalese sand in the other, we promised ourselves to continue to be selfless, patient, flexible, community-minded and connected, and we promised to leave behind perfectionism, fear, self-doubt, and more. To reaffirm our promises to ourselves and to each other, we let the wind carry away our handfuls of sand and fastened our cowry shell bracelets to our wrists as a reminder of this community, and of all we’ve learned.

This has been the theme of our Transference – discussing how to bring what we’ve learned and experienced home, how to continue to travel and to live as the confident, capable, intelligent, curious, and engaged young women (and Samba!) we know ourselves to be. The majority of our Transference activities took place in Toubab Dialaw, a gorgeous, secluded cliff-side spot an hour outside of Dakar. We reflected on all of the fond memories and moments we shared with one another and practiced how to share something of our experience back at home. We discussed American and Senegalese values, learned about each others' ISP projects, spent a creative morning designing prayer flags to send our wishes for the earth and for ourselves out into the world, shared what we’ve appreciated and admired in one another, and played in the ocean waves.

The young women that we send home this evening are brilliant, strong, fabulous women, and we feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend three months learning with them and from them, teaching them and watching them grow and change and challenge themselves. We are so excited to see what they all will go on to do, in the next few months and years. We all have unique and different adventures that await us, and even though our time together is coming to an end, we hope each student will continue to travel, wherever they may be – continue to observe, to ask questions, and to connect.

Endings are always bittersweet. We will miss this community, but we know that we will all carry something from it with us, on our wrists and in our hearts. In many ways, this is just the beginning; the beginning of what will be a lifelong journey of discovery, adventure, and growth.

With love,

The I-Team -- Angelica, Samba, and Laura

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Notes and Lessons from Transference

Angelica Calabrese,Fall: West Africa

Description

This morning, back in Dakar, we gathered on the rooftop of our guesthouse – the same one that we stayed in on our very first night in-country, three long months ago – and we expressed our wishes for what we hope to take home with us as we leave Senegal and each other, and what […]

Posted On

12/5/16

Author

Angelica Calabrese

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    [post_content] => Today is our second day of transference. In three days, we will be getting on the plane to go home. I am nervous, and I think that a lot of the other girls are too. We're wondering what it will be like to go home to a place so familiar when we ourselves have become so different. It's frightening! Thankfully, we've been having many conversations about reverse culture shock, what it might look like for us, and tools for how to cope with it.

In some ways, I think we have allowed ourselves to rely on the safety of the program. What will it be like to have our phones back, constantly getting notifications and streams of information instantly? What will it be like to go from intensely packed days to needing to get ourselves up and decide what to do? What will it be like to no longer be with our friends and support systems every hour of the day (and who will be there to check in with us every morning about how healthy our poop is)?

Yet, though it will be extremely hard, this may be the part of the trip that proves to be the most conducive to intense growth. We will need to put the skills we have gained here (like independence, self advocacy and flexibility) to use. We will begin to apply all of the things we have learned to our own lives and find ways to share our experience with those around us. I know that for me personally, there will be hard days when I wake up frustrated and confused at the world around me without knowing why, but I also know that the patience that it takes to deal with those days will make me more self aware, more understanding of others, and able to approach the world with an open heart.
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Fall: West Africa

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Going Home

Sarah Luettgen,Fall: West Africa

Description

Today is our second day of transference. In three days, we will be getting on the plane to go home. I am nervous, and I think that a lot of the other girls are too. We’re wondering what it will be like to go home to a place so familiar when we ourselves have become […]

Posted On

12/2/16

Author

Sarah Luettgen

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-01 16:50:36
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    [post_content] => Dear Fall 2016 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 (all times are in local time zones):

Monday, December 5th

Air France #719

Depart: Dakar, Senegal (DKR) 11:40 PM

Arrive: Paris, France (CDG) 6:20 AM (+1 day)

Tuesday, December 6th

Air France #022

Depart: Paris, France (CDG) 8:35 AM

Arrive: New York (JFK) 11:25 AM

We will have a Dragons Administrator on call for the duration of the travel day. Starting on Monday, December 5th, should you need any assistance after regular office hours, please call our “on-call” number at 303-921-6078.

We wish all students a great trip home!

Sincerely,

Boulder Admin
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Fall: West Africa

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RETURN FLIGHT INFORMATION

Admissions Team,Fall: West Africa

Description

Dear Fall 2016 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 […]

Posted On

12/1/16

Author

Admissions Team

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    [post_date] => 2016-11-28 09:27:41
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    [post_content] => I hope you enjoy the photos here and I will try my best to describe each one.

"Je veux aller et reussir a l'école" translates to "I want to go and succeed in school"- We saw this sign and many others like it on the road to our village homestay we finished 2 days ago in Temento Samba. Taken on Nov 23

TAPALAPA! In our journeys in southern Senegal we have eaten Tapalapa, a local bread of the region. In Temento Samba we had the immense priveledge to learn how to make it and get to cook it in a earthen oven that was in the village. This image shows the oven and some of our delicious masterpieces during the whole day process. Taken on Nov 22

During many of our journeys we have been covered in the red dust that exists on all roads, well all unpaved roads which ends up being most of the roads we've traveled. Though the image is blurry you can tell that as travelers on these roads we can get covered in the dust. Taken on Nov 14

Beautiful Guinea. We loved the 2 days we spent in Douki in the seemingly untouched valleys we explored through hikes, we got to swim in the cold waters and relax in the sunshine and incredible natural beauty around us- we even saw monkeys scramble on the cliffside! Taken on Nov 13

La Dame de la Fallaise, or the Woman of the cliff. We hiked to this view spot during our stay in Maliville, Guinea and heard the intense folk tale revolving it before returning back to our auberge and feeling the coldest we've felt in our time in West Africa. Taken on Nov 7

The drive to Maliville from Kedougou was long, and the road was many things including dusty,rugged,filled with water at times and all around a challenge. Taken on Nov 4

Even though its belated, nasty insect halloween picture! Found on the trail of our day hike through Daande and Afia from Dindefello. Taken Oct 31

This is a picture of one of our more sketchy rover crossings during our trek from Ibel to Dindefello, it was ingeniusly created and the river it crossed provided the perfect resting snack spot before we pushed for Dindefello before it got too hot outside. Taken Oct 29

We had an early morning on our hike from Ibel to Dindefello and being out in the tall grasses before the sun was fully up and before the heat was incredibly beautiful. You can see us and the loaded packs but what you can't see are our dust covered legs and the songs we sang at the top of our lungs. Taken Oct 29th 6:53 am
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Photos!

Espoir DelMain,Fall: West Africa

Description

I hope you enjoy the photos here and I will try my best to describe each one. “Je veux aller et reussir a l’école” translates to “I want to go and succeed in school”- We saw this sign and many others like it on the road to our village homestay we finished 2 days ago […]

Posted On

11/28/16

Author

Espoir DelMain

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    [post_date] => 2016-11-26 18:17:15
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-27 01:17:15
    [post_content] => I have found many languages in Témento Samba. My Pulaar is a struggle and my family speaks about as much French as I do so common words are negligible. But leaving I feel that I understand the life and heart of my village. I have found a language in the way the stars over my house hold the world in an embrace of enchanting stoic wisdom. And I have found the same enchanting stoic wisdom in every generation of women in the rhythm of their lives. The knowledge and skill of these women is a story that speaks the same words every day but the mystery always sounds unique. There is a language in the pounding of corn and the strength of my Neene who every day transforms the corn from kernels to couscous. Their is a language in the sounds of the animals, the braying of donkeys and the roosters in the early morning. I have found understanding also in the rhythm of life. The song of community sings as I pass from one home to the next and in every family their love and warmth feels as present as their words. There are words in the peanut fields and in the cattle fields.

And so I have founds language in all of these places but the communication that has spoken to me beyond all others is that of human touch. The feel of my Neene holding my hand in her own two is a memory I hope never to forget. For that is where I felt her love. In the strength of her hands I felt the warm ways in which she was a mother to me and I felt protected. The other pair of hands that gave me a love I can never truly articulate are those of my grandmothers. Her constant concern for my wellbeing was spoken in the hands she extended to me every time I sat with her. We spoke a language that I could never have learned. Upon my leaving she held both my hands in hers, she looked into my face and I could feel her seeing more than the lines of my smile. And with a sure intent she pressed her forehead against mine and silently we held each other in this space. There were no words only the love of someone who no matter where I go will always be a pillar of strength in my memory.

These were the languages of Témento Samba, these were the stories and the songs spoken only in my understanding and these were the words that will live with me in little ways forever.
    [post_title] => The Words of Témento Samba
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Fall: West Africa

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The Words of Témento Samba

Claire Lindsay,Fall: West Africa

Description

I have found many languages in Témento Samba. My Pulaar is a struggle and my family speaks about as much French as I do so common words are negligible. But leaving I feel that I understand the life and heart of my village. I have found a language in the way the stars over my […]

Posted On

11/26/16

Author

Claire Lindsay

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In the morning, she gets up quite early, before 7am (which is when the sunrises). She rouses the children, then goes and makes a fire to boil water for coffee. She sweeps the courtyard of goat poop and peanut shells, dumping them into one of the trash heaps. She then takes the topalopa bread she aquired the night before and gives it out to the kids, along with some very sugary coffee, before they go to school.

She starts lunch next. She takes corn or grain to the machine in one corner of the village, where she pays a man by the kilo to grind it into powder. She makes couscous most days. She serves lunch early, around 1:15, as soon as the kids get back from school.

After lunch, she hangs out for a few hours, talking and watching the kids. She might send one of them to buy something from the boutique for dinner. She spends a lot of time with her baby, nursing and playing with him.

Time to start dinner. It's late by the time it is ready, around 8:30. She usually brings some to the neighbors before we start to eat ourselves. The dishes are left to be cleaned in the morning, and the rest of the night is spent chatting and stargazing.
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Fall: West Africa

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Nénés

Sarah Luettgen,Fall: West Africa

Description

Rural village life is much different from what we experienced in Thiès. Our homestay in Temento Samba was pretty eye opening as to how different life can be throughout all of Senegal. One thing that was extremely interesting to take note of was the habits of the nénés (mothers). My néné, as with most of the […]

Posted On

11/25/16

Author

Sarah Luettgen

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    [post_content] => Walking slow in the village

You can't go too fast

Or you'll miss it all

I sit

I am given attaya and delicious food

Handshakes and smiles

I try to constantly engage

And to see over the language barrier

Standing on my tip toes is tiring

But so worth it when I can see eyes on the other side trying to see me just as well

The eyes I see smile back

They laugh and offer

I sing and dance and they laugh

It's good to feel like we can all laugh

Even though we don't understand each other's words

 

 

Home can be as simple as a place to sleep

Where people care about you

Wherever it exists in the world

Certain things are the same

People smile, they eat, and they enjoy what they have

Like all humans

I learn by imitation

And find myself at home as soon as nenee shakes my hand and smiles with her eyes

 
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Village Life

Espoir DelMain,Fall: West Africa

Description

Walking slow in the village You can’t go too fast Or you’ll miss it all I sit I am given attaya and delicious food Handshakes and smiles I try to constantly engage And to see over the language barrier Standing on my tip toes is tiring But so worth it when I can see eyes […]

Posted On

11/21/16

Author

Espoir DelMain

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