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Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14


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    [post_date] => 2013-12-06 10:06:29
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Dear family and friends of the Bridge Year Sene-guys and gals, After returning to Yoff and our daily routine from the volunteer life in the desert, we’re busy packing our bags again. This time, we’re adventuring down into southeastern Senegal and the regions of Kedougou and Kolda. We are leaving the flat stretches of the Sahel to which we’ve become accustomed to explore the verdant and mountainous regions of Kedougou and Kolda. The students have taken on great leadership in building this excursion, building on their successes during the Dakar/Thies Rally and the Festival du Sahel. Omid has been leader this week, spearheading planning sessions on everything from group goals and expectations to the itinerary and activities. Anna will take the reigns on Sunday to lead us during the trekking portion of the excursion, and Miranda will lead during our last week when we’re in rural homestays. The students worked together to build an itinerary that incorporates their different interests and that incorporates both trekking and homestays for an immersive experience in the region: Sunday December 8: travel day, Dakar to Kedougou Monday December 9 – Saturday December 14: trekking in the region of Kedougou (blue pin on map) Activities include visiting animist villages, hiking to waterfalls, and touring development initiatives such as the Jane Goodall Institute. We’ll be meeting our guide, Doba Diallo, in Kedougou. He knows the area well and grew up in a village along our trek route. Sunday December 15 : Travel day, Kedougou to Kolda Monday December 16 – Friday December 20: Rural homestays in the village of Manchiakani, just outside of Kolda (red pin on map) Students will be placed with a host family for the week, practicing Pulaar while playing with their host siblings or exchanging with their host parents. In addition, there will be opportunities to take drumming lessons, to visit weekly markets in the area, and to co-lead sessions on themes such as religion and rural economy. In addition to last minute runs to the weekly market and going for “urban treks” or long walks to test out their hiking shoes, the students have been hard at work adding a 3rd (!) language to their studies – Pulaar. While Wolof is still the linga franca in most of Senegal, Kedougou and Kolda are primarily home to Pulaar communities in addition to other ethnic groups. Luckily, there are many Pulaar-speaking shop owners around Yoff who are more than happy to help us study while selling us our morning breakfast! While on excursion, we do not expect to have regular access to the internet. We look forward to sharing stories of our adventures once we are back in Dakar on Sunday December 22. Oŋdiarama e eŋ ontuma, Thank you and until later, Paul, Babacar and Elke [post_title] => Trekking and Homestay in Southeastern Senegal [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => trekking-and-homestay-in-southeastern-senegal [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-12-06 10:06:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-12-06 17:06:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=95236 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 190 [name] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 [slug] => princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 190 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 87 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.1001 [cat_ID] => 190 [category_count] => 87 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 [category_nicename] => princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14/ ) ) [category_links] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 )
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Trekking and Homestay in Southeastern Senegal

Paul, Babacar and Elke,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

Dear family and friends of the Bridge Year Sene-guys and gals, After returning to Yoff and our daily routine from the volunteer life in the desert, we’re busy packing our bags again. This time, we’re adventuring down into southeastern Senegal and the regions of Kedougou and Kolda. We are leaving the flat stretches of the […]

Posted On

12/6/13

Author

Paul, Babacar and Elke

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    [post_date] => 2013-12-02 14:38:23
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-12-02 21:38:23
    [post_content] => "All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream." -Edgar Allen Poe

Disbelief strikes her
"I have dreamt this scene before."
It's impossible.

Deja Vu, perhaps
maybe a false memory
maybe a past life

Cause irrelevant,
she interprets the meaning:
this is right for her.

This language, this sand,
the drumming in the distance-
She has dreamt it all!

Perhaps it is not
a bad movie after all,
this life she's living.
    [post_title] => Familiarity
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Familiarity

Anna Simon,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

“All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream.” -Edgar Allen Poe Disbelief strikes her “I have dreamt this scene before.” It’s impossible. Deja Vu, perhaps maybe a false memory maybe a past life Cause irrelevant, she interprets the meaning: this is right for her. This language, this sand, the […]

Posted On

12/2/13

Author

Anna Simon

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Lessons learned from volunteering at Festival du Sahel:

-The desert is a very, very cold place: The packing list said to bring a sweater. After my first three months in Senegal, I can say that I would have never expected to use the sweater that I packed. Or the winter hat I brought with me. Needless to say, the desert has a way of surprising you, whether it involves gazing at the stars and unveiling the façade of our perceived importance or having fun (yes, having fun!) dealing with the flood in your bug hut because of the sheer absurdity of the problem.   -The stars speak the truth: While walking up a steep sand dune in the middle of the night may not be considered the pinnacle of fun, it was certainly worth it. Lying back and gazing at the stars from what feels like the top of the world has a way of validating the steps you have taken both up the sand dune and up life’s mountain. After all, we look up to the heavens not to escape the present but to gaze upon the future.   -If nothing else, life represents surprise: I would have never expected to spend nine months in Senegal, let alone volunteering for the good part of a week at a festival in the middle of a desert. Add to that the running water and shower heads in the desert and you begin to wonder what humans can’t do these days.   -Places aren’t what make memories: We were able to construct and take down the town in the desert in a matter of days. It’s not the place, but the people you meet that truly define your perspective. We met a man from Mauritania who planned on riding six camels from Dakar to the Versailles in Paris over the course of four months. We met a high level official from the Canadian Embassy and talked to her and her kid about Legos. The people we met hailed from all over the world: from Algeria, France, Italy, Mauritania, Spain, Canada, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Sweden, Italy, the UK, Nigeria, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, and of course, Senegal. -The desert is a very, very warm place: The middle of the day in the desert is of course very hot, with the sun scorching everything in sight. The people, however, are warm through both the day and night. Whether it’s the other volunteers sharing their life stories or the staff buying us sodas for a day’s hard work, everyone was willing to lend a hand to make the experience a memorable one. Add to that my coworkers from Dakar, who were present as customers of the festival, bringing me a snack, and you begin to realize just how warm the desert can really be. [post_title] => Festival du Sahel [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => festival-du-sahel-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-03 14:10:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-03 21:10:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=95023 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 190 [name] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 [slug] => princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 190 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 87 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.1001 [cat_ID] => 190 [category_count] => 87 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 [category_nicename] => princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14/ ) ) [category_links] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 )
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Festival du Sahel

Omid Abrishamchian,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

Lessons learned from volunteering at Festival du Sahel: –The desert is a very, very cold place: The packing list said to bring a sweater. After my first three months in Senegal, I can say that I would have never expected to use the sweater that I packed. Or the winter hat I brought with me. […]

Posted On

12/2/13

Author

Omid Abrishamchian

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    [post_content] => Happy Thanksgiving!

Today the students whipped up a  fabulous meal in true American style, with everything from sweet potatoes and corn pudding to seasoned chicken and pumpkin pie.  Their ingenuity paid off, all the dishes tasted delicious with the taste of home.

After the meal the students shared their gratitudes and expressed thanks to friends and family back home for their support, as well as their new community in Senegal for welcoming them.

Best wishes for the holidays,

Paul, Babacar and Elke
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Paul, Babacar and Elke,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

Happy Thanksgiving! Today the students whipped up a  fabulous meal in true American style, with everything from sweet potatoes and corn pudding to seasoned chicken and pumpkin pie.  Their ingenuity paid off, all the dishes tasted delicious with the taste of home. After the meal the students shared their gratitudes and expressed thanks to friends […]

Posted On

11/28/13

Author

Paul, Babacar and Elke

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    [post_date] => 2013-11-27 11:17:47
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Dear friends and family, Our group is back in Dakar after an awesome volunteering experience at the Festival du Sahel.  The instructor team can say, without doubt, that the students’ experience at the festival exceeded our expectations!  The funny thing is, we’re not talking about the festival itself (which was great), but rather our experience as volunteers. As shown in the photos, we were busy throughout our stay in the desert.  On arrival we had two days to help with preparation for the festival, taking on tasks that included setting up the dining area, cleaning lanterns and putting mats, sheets and pillows in accommodation tents.  Then the guests started arriving, and our students handled check-in and troubleshooting accommodation problems (largely due to a mattress shortage) at the welcome tents, which was at times hectic!  As the festival continued, we pitched in wherever we could, from serving breakfast right through until we ate dinner at 10pm.  In our daily debriefs at the end of the day, we looked around at our tired but happy students, who shared what they’d experienced each day.  If they had enough energy, students watched the evening concerts, before going to sleep in our desert camp. The festival passed quickly and ended by Sunday lunchtime.  Our work was not done, as we helped with taking down the camp and clearing up.  It wasn’t all work though, as the festival kindly provided us with camel rides to take a break. While this sounds like lots of work, the students really loved the chance to make friends with other volunteers and staff, including many Senegalese students from Saint Louis.  We also loved hearing the students practicing their Wolof and French with both colleagues and guests.  Our students made some firm friends that we hope to visit again during the program. Our contribution was recognized by the festival management.  As well as numerous sodas, camel rides and an invitation to dinner, our group received personal thanks from the President of the Festival du Sahel, as well as the director and other managers.  Princeton Bridge Year Program is welcome back to volunteer at the festival next year!  Numerous guests also expressed gratitude to the instructor team, commenting on how helpful the students were and how well the event was organized. Our group arrived back in Yoff on Monday evening, feeling exhausted by happy with our experience at the festival.  Students have since taken time to rest, returned to service and they are now preparing our Thanksgiving festivities.  You can expect to see many photos and hear tales from the desert in the coming days! All the best, Paul, Babacar and Elke [post_title] => Festival du Sahel Photo Reel [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => festival-du-sahel-photo-reel [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-03 14:23:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-03 21:23:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=94946 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 190 [name] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 [slug] => princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 190 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 263 [count] => 87 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 3.1001 [cat_ID] => 190 [category_count] => 87 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 [category_nicename] => princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14 [category_parent] => 263 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/princeton-bridge-year/princeton-bridge-year-senegal-2013-14/ ) ) [category_links] => Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14 )
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Festival du Sahel Photo Reel

Paul, Babacar and Elke,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

Dear friends and family, Our group is back in Dakar after an awesome volunteering experience at the Festival du Sahel.  The instructor team can say, without doubt, that the students’ experience at the festival exceeded our expectations!  The funny thing is, we’re not talking about the festival itself (which was great), but rather our experience […]

Posted On

11/27/13

Author

Paul, Babacar and Elke

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    [post_date] => 2013-11-19 12:25:52
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    [post_content] => Dear family and friends of the Senegal Bridge Year program,

Over the last few months, our group has become settled into Dakar life.  Our students have been busy with service placements, language classes, participating in host family life and exploring the city.  It’s been wonderful to see the students gain the skills and knowledge to be independent and flourish in their Senegalese experience.  The growth in their abilities and confidence was really shown to us in their amazing performance in the ‘Dakar Rally’, in which they undertook various tasks, solved clues and navigated their way across both the familiar territory of Dakar, and further afield in the previously unexplored city of Thies.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 20 Nov) we are taking a break from city life to explore African musical culture and the Senegalese arts scene by volunteering at the Festival du Sahel.  This builds on our group’s learning about media and the arts in Dakar, such as through attending a concert and a documentary screening, and visiting a news corporation and a TV station.  As volunteers at the Festival du Sahel, we will experience the event as part of the community, giving the students a chance to build relationships with other volunteers, guests, and artists, and to learn more about arts and culture in Senegal.

The festival takes place in the Desert of Lampoul, a beautiful region of Senegal where we’ll be sleeping in tents among the sand dunes!  To learn more about the Festival du Sahel, take a look at the website: http://www.festivaldusahel.com

At the festival, we’re joining a group of volunteers from Senegal, Europe and the USA, as well as musical artists from across Africa.  Everyone has been divided into different activity groups to support the running of the festival.  Miranda, Katie and Paul will work on the welcome team.  Omid, Emma Claire and Elke will support catering.  Kabbas and Avi will volunteer with the accommodation team.  Anna is working in the media and press section.  Babacar is working on overall camp coordination and will be on hand to support the whole team!

Our group will be at the Desert of Lampoul from Wednesday 20 to Tuesday 26 November, helping with both preparation and clear-up of the Festival du Sahel, which lasts from Friday to Sunday.  We’ll be back in Dakar in time to prepare Thanksgiving festivities!

While at the festival, we do not expect to have regular access to the internet.  You can expect us to be back in touch from Tuesday 26 with tales from the desert.

Best wishes,

Paul, Elke and Babacar
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Festival du Sahel

Paul, Babacar and Elke,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

Dear family and friends of the Senegal Bridge Year program, Over the last few months, our group has become settled into Dakar life.  Our students have been busy with service placements, language classes, participating in host family life and exploring the city.  It’s been wonderful to see the students gain the skills and knowledge to […]

Posted On

11/19/13

Author

Paul, Babacar and Elke

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    [post_content] => Spiked attaya, sweat, and sunburns aside,

Each day brings adventures: busses and bui,

Nausea, giardia, even a pink eye scare,

Effervescent vitamin drinks - edible energy - enamouring everyone,

Garages of 7-places leading to Thies and back.

Although adventures animate all, anybody appreciates

Lackadaisically lounging lovingly like luminary lizards
    [post_title] => Group Yak: A Poem Acrostic
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Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

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Group Yak: A Poem Acrostic

Bridge Year Senegal Students,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

Spiked attaya, sweat, and sunburns aside, Each day brings adventures: busses and bui, Nausea, giardia, even a pink eye scare, Effervescent vitamin drinks – edible energy – enamouring everyone, Garages of 7-places leading to Thies and back. Although adventures animate all, anybody appreciates Lackadaisically lounging lovingly like luminary lizards

Posted On

11/13/13

Author

Bridge Year Senegal Students

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    [post_date] => 2013-11-08 10:39:20
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    [post_content] => If a picture is worth a thousand words, I figure a painting is worth much more. Thus, I present to you an impression of what Senegal is. I call it Nekhna. 
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Painting

Kabbas Azhar,Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I figure a painting is worth much more. Thus, I present to you an impression of what Senegal is. I call it Nekhna. 

Posted On

11/8/13

Author

Kabbas Azhar

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In the past months, the question I have most encountered from American friends and family regarding my Bridge Year is the following: “So, what is Senegal like?” It’s terribly difficult to give an accurate response to this inquiry.   “Hot”?   “Nice”?   “African”?   The truth is that nothing fully encapsulates – indeed, can encapsulate – all that is this crazy, beautiful, complex country. So rather than pursue this futile line of enquiry, I would instead like to share a short list of various features of daily life, which I hope will combine to form a closer-to-the-truth feeling of what it is like to live in Senegal.   1.            Family Relationships Families in Senegal are incredibly huge, tight-knit, and without doubt the center of daily life. Traditionally, extended families live all together in compounds: multiple interconnected houses or rooms with different branches of the family inhabiting different sections of the property. Each compound has a central common area (usually outdoors) in which people chat and relax, do laundry, and watch children play; living all together in such close quarters provides a level of solidarity and closeness absent in typical American extended families. Additionally, nearly all Senegalese children are named after some particularly-beloved family member (their “turando,” or namesake), and “Ana waa kerga?” (“How is your family?”) is a typical greeting in Senegal, a question posed regularly to perfect strangers at the store or on the street. The relationships between family members are also different than those in the West. For example, the children of siblings of the same gender (two sisters or brothers) are considered their aunts’ or uncles’ “children” too – hence, my four children (three from my older sister Maget, one from my sister Seynabou). To me, this way of viewing family members really illustrates how it’s the whole family that raises a child, not just two parents. In the large familial communities of Senegal, interdependence is stressed far more than independence; everyone relies on and cares for each other, all the time.   2.            Skin Is it the constant consumption of fish? Is it all that Vitamin D? No one knows; the only consensus is that Senegal does wonders for the skin. Several of my fellow Bridge-Yearers have noted improvements in their complexions; I too can attest to this magical power of Senegal. The Dakarois celebrate their beautiful skin by swathing themselves in brightly-colored “wax” fabrics and traditional bousbous and headscarves. Especially on Fridays (the most important day of prayer), when the streets of Dakar come to color with people dressed in their “Friday best,” Senegalese are truly a sight to behold.   3.            Collectivism and The Bus All my life, I’ve heard tell of how “individualist” American culture is. However, it was not until travelling to Senegal that I actually experienced a more collectivist culture and understood what the term means in real, everyday life. Senegal’s collectivism is, I feel, best manifested in two features of Senegalese bus-riding. Firstly, when boarding the bus, rather than pushing through crowds to get to the booth where you buy your ticket, it’s instead standard to pass your money to a fellow bus-rider who will pass it along until it gets to the ticketman. Your ticket and change are then passed back to you. Secondly, if you do not score one of the coveted seats on the bus and instead have to stand, it’s customary to pass your bags or purse to someone sitting to hold for you. Last week, I even saw a woman boarding the bus hand her baby to a seated man for several minutes while she fished around in her pockets for bus fare. You’d think (at least in America) that these systems would be fraught with problems and theft – people pocketing a few coins here and there, items disappearing from bags – yet they work infallibly, because in Senegal, “nyokobok” is the word. Translated: “we share.” We help each other out.  In the US, you’re taught to operate as a single unit from a very young age: be independent, be self-made, do what you need to do for yourself, compete and advance to a position above everyone else – in school, in sports, in life. However, in Senegal, the community is emphasized over the individual. Due in large part to being raised in the interdependent compound community, instead of thinking about your own good all the time, you’re thinking about your entire family’s, your community’s – not as a matter of being nice or doing a favor, but because that is just how you live. Children aren’t even praised when they share, because it’s so expected, so ingrained in the structure of society.   4.            Livestock What would life be like without goats and sheep roaming about on streetcorners, chickens strutting around the market, a solitary cow greeting me in front of the YMCA each day as I leave work? Such a dreary world I face when I return back to the US next year. Living in Senegal, you come into contact with livestock every day. People live a lot closer to their animals here – the rams that we sacrificed for Tabaski were kept tied up in our front yard the entire day before the event. Seeing the animals I will later consume while they are still alive has caused an interesting adjustment in perspective for me, accustomed as I am to meat coming from little Styrofoam packages you buy the supermarket. In America’s cities, you are so removed from the process of preparing meat, permitted to pretend the death doesn’t exist; in Senegal, you know what it means to eat chicken or mutton. One implication of this lifestyle is that mortality becomes less foreign, less fearful of a concept. More superficially, the animals I encounter every day are just fun to see. Their absence will surely cause tears upon my return to the US. Cows, goats, sheep: you brighten my every day here, and I will miss you.   (to be continued…) [post_title] => I Have Four Children... and other interesting facts about my life in Senegal (Part 1) [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => i-have-four-children-and-other-interesting-facts-about-my-life-in-senegal-part-1 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-03 14:55:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-03 21:55:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://wheretherebedragons.com/?p=94189 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 36 [name] => Best Notes From The Field [slug] => best-notes-from-the-field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 36 [taxonomy] => category [description] => These pieces of travel writing are reflections by students and instructors traveling all over the world. 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I Have Four Children… and other interesting facts about my life in Senegal (Part 1)

Miranda Bolef,Best Notes From The Field, Princeton Bridge Year Senegal 2013-14

Description

In the past months, the question I have most encountered from American friends and family regarding my Bridge Year is the following: “So, what is Senegal like?” It’s terribly difficult to give an accurate response to this inquiry.   “Hot”?   “Nice”?   “African”?   The truth is that nothing fully encapsulates – indeed, can […]

Posted On

11/4/13

Author

Miranda Bolef

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