Photo of the Week
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2014-03-29 09:22:25
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-29 15:22:25
    [post_content] => Greetings to everyone following along,

The group touched down in Washington DC and is already on their connecting flight, slowing making their way back toward Cleveland. For the first time in two weeks I am alone, waiting for my own connecting flight to Denver, missing the smiles and shared laughs and the anticipation of new adventures, the warmth from my Senegalese family--Babacar, his wife, their 5 children, and extended family.

It has been a blessing and an honor to lead this journey with this special group of teachers and students. I feel a profound sense of gratitude to Hathaway Brown for having the interest and courage to initiate and support such a program for its students. I am always grateful to parents for their inherent trust in me and in Senegal, recognizing the sacrifice families make to send their children to a faraway and unknown place. And I admire and am inspired by the students' own bravery to face so many new situations and challenges with enthusiasm and a positive attitude. As a Dragons instructor, I have the fantastic privilege of diving deeper into a place that I love, to see Senegal through fresh eyes time and time again, and to learn countless lessons from my students. Thanks to you all.

As students settle back into the rhythm of life at home, they may be immediately exited to share their experiences in Senegal, or it make take some time to process and articulate what they have seen and how it relates to life back home. In our final day in Senegal yesterday, while enjoying the tranquil space offered in the shade of trees in a thick forest back-set by a small lake, the group drafted answers to one of the most common questions they will hear in the coming days: "How was Senegal?" The sentences below are our collective first try at answering that simple question, and I hope that you will all have the time to see photos and hear stories to fill in the details. Thank you again to HB, students, teachers, and families, for supporting this journey and all you have done to make this happen for this special group of students!

With gratitude,

Christy

"Senegal is the most welcoming and humbling place with the most colorful collection of people that I have ever met."

"Senegal embraced me into its culture, traditions, markets, boats, and families, rekindling my love for humanity."

"Senegal was absolutely amazing, and it was a fantastic experience."

"My experience in Senegal was absolutely incredible and I feel like I learned so much about the country and the people who live there, as well as myself, through immersing myself in its culture."

"My time in Senegal changed my perspective on how I live and how others live."

"Coming to Senegal made me think about the life I lead, the lives the locals lead and how we can benefit and learn from each other."

"Being in Senegal opened my eyes to a level of generosity and kindness that I never thought possible before."

"Sh*t got so real in Senegal."

"It was amazing because I got to learn about an entirely different culture that I have now come to love and appreciate."

"Senegal was a trip that made me learn how to live in the now and truly value other people regardless of his or her background."

"Senegal was a beautiful adventure that will, among many other things, change your perspective on life."

"It was really great, we did a lot and I learned a lot, especially from the people here that welcome you as though you are just another one of them."

"May Senegal gain the “luxuries” of running water, without the loss of the 'village vibe.'"

"Senegal was an eye-opening and incredible new experience where I was sometimes humbled, shocked, scared, and excited, all resulting in experiences that instilled a sense of responsibility to act."
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How was Senegal?

The whole HB Group,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

Greetings to everyone following along, The group touched down in Washington DC and is already on their connecting flight, slowing making their way back toward Cleveland. For the first time in two weeks I am alone, waiting for my own connecting flight to Denver, missing the smiles and shared laughs and the anticipation of new […]

Posted On

03/29/14

Author

The whole HB Group

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-26 17:38:58
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-26 23:38:58
    [post_content] => I thoroughly love to shop, and back home, I can say I spend a little too much time internet browsing or looking for sales. Therefore, I am guilty as well of the materialism that encompasses us all in America. However, yesterday, when I spent an absolutely amazing morning shopping in the Thies market, it was not for this reason. It wasn’t because of the really cool items I purchased or the great bargains I made (yes, I successfully had some great deals!), but because of the interactions I had there. The streets were lined with shops and narrow entry ways I could barely squeeze through, the smells ranged from roasted peanuts to citrus to beans, and similarly the people, both shopping and working, comprised a diverse variety. As I walked through this market, I was struck, as I have been time and time again in this country, by the friendliness. The sellers, before ever forcing their product upon you, would make sure to have a proper greeting. They would tell you where the product you were looking for was, and point you over to their friend. They would negotiate, but almost always give the price you were looking for in the end. They would run to a neighbor if they didn’t have the correct change. They would help. Unlike the coldly competitive retail industry I know so well back home, at the market, it was one giant community. One giant exchange, a network of many different participants, working together to give you what you want.
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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Shopaholic

Evie S,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

I thoroughly love to shop, and back home, I can say I spend a little too much time internet browsing or looking for sales. Therefore, I am guilty as well of the materialism that encompasses us all in America. However, yesterday, when I spent an absolutely amazing morning shopping in the Thies market, it was […]

Posted On

03/26/14

Author

Evie S

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-24 16:57:15
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    [post_content] => Coming into this homestay, I had no idea what to expect. To be honest though, the first time that I walked into the courtyard of my new “home”, my stomach dropped. Rapid fire Serere darted across my ears from left and right, and new faces were popping out from every corner motioning for me to come over and sit down next to unknown faces. As I settled down into my bed that night, thoughts of wanting to go home began to cloud my mind. I have never been the type of person to feel homesick, but that night that feeling just took over my body, making me yearn for my home in America. The next day though, I met my new parents for the next four days: four moms and one dad. Now in America there have always been negative connotations about the concept of polygamy, me being guilty of feeling this way as well. However, this homestay completely changed my mind. Having four moms and an unknown amount of kids (I counted about 15 when I was there, but I know that there are a few more since every day a new one would appear before my eyes) was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. No matter where I was or what I was doing, every family member with me at the moment made it their purpose to make me feel welcome. In every room there would be at least four of my sisters, or a mix of some students who are staying with the family and my siblings. The amount of hospitality and generosity was almost too good to believe though. From having my older brother somehow locate me and guide me home as I struggled to navigate the maze-like alleys of Niodior without a headlamp late at night to having my moms and sisters dress me every day in their own clothing, my family would always find ways to show me how much they loved me. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my family back at home. But having this huge family was a different type of love. They loved to feed me until my stomach was about to explode. They loved my awkward “toubab” personality whenever I couldn’t understand what they were telling me. They also loved braiding my entire head of hair. But most of all, they loved me, a complete stranger who didn’t even speak their own language. This family had nothing but love to offer me, and I will be eternally grateful for all of the priceless moments we shared together. Leaving their home, wearing one of their Senegalese skirts and a new hairdo of braids dangling down my neck, tears began streaming down my face. Not only was I sad that I had to leave my new family, but I was also sad that I was never able to fully express my gratitude for them. That love they gave me was the strongest emotion I had ever felt because it was something I had never experienced before. Never have I ever felt so completely lost and welcomed in a country before, but in a way, perhaps that is what Senegal is all about. Even though it is so different here I know that every time I will think of this country in the future, I will always consider myself a part of this enormous kind-hearted family called Senegal.
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Senegal HB - 2 week, Homestay

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A Different Type of Love

Sam K,Senegal HB - 2 week, Homestay

Description

Coming into this homestay, I had no idea what to expect. To be honest though, the first time that I walked into the courtyard of my new “home”, my stomach dropped. Rapid fire Serere darted across my ears from left and right, and new faces were popping out from every corner motioning for me to […]

Posted On

03/24/14

Author

Sam K

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-24 12:20:07
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-24 18:20:07
    [post_content] => When starting the homestay, I had no idea what to expect. At home I have no siblings, so I wondered what it would be like to have them. As soon as I met my homestay I felt that I was immediately absorbed into the family. The relationship between my homestay family and me only strengthened over the hours that I was there. The lack of awkwardness despite the difficulties communicating was surprising. As I walked through the dusty streets of town, my rak bu jigeen (little sister) holding my hand with her tiny fingers and light grip, I realized that my family and I now share an amazing connection. I love being with my homestay siblings. Walking with them, playing with them, laughing with them has be absolutely wonderful. Being a part of this family has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I will never forget my time being a part of my Senegalese family.
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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My Senegalese Family

Olivia A.,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

When starting the homestay, I had no idea what to expect. At home I have no siblings, so I wondered what it would be like to have them. As soon as I met my homestay I felt that I was immediately absorbed into the family. The relationship between my homestay family and me only strengthened […]

Posted On

03/24/14

Author

Olivia A.

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-24 12:18:40
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    [post_content] => 
 I like how an appropriate greeting is “ana sa yaay” or “where is your mother”. It makes me sad that the waste lies on the periphery of this beautiful landscape, yet the buses are lined with Ahamdililah. Thank God. I like how everyone is thankful for the deep burgundy of the earth, and the bright pigments of their dress, the darkness of their skin. I like how women tie their children to their back with any fabric they can find and still laugh when I say, “I will try someday”. The loud beat of the djembe lulls me to sleep. I can see the stars her
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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In Cleveland, You Can’t See the Stars

Zoe G (aka Fatu Tchiaré),Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

 I like how an appropriate greeting is “ana sa yaay” or “where is your mother”. It makes me sad that the waste lies on the periphery of this beautiful landscape, yet the buses are lined with Ahamdililah. Thank God. I like how everyone is thankful for the deep burgundy of the earth, and the bright […]

Posted On

03/24/14

Author

Zoe G (aka Fatu Tchiaré)

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-24 12:18:12
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    [post_content] => I don't have any sisters. Even if I did, I would most likely not have
the relationship that exists between my homestay sisters and I. That
is one of complete and utter love; free of complicated problems caused
by competition, stress, materialism, and selfishness back home.
Although we don't sit and confess our love, it is through simple
gestures that this is clear. For example, as I walk around town with
my sister hand-in-hand or she high fives me because I have absolutely
no idea what she is trying to say. The generosity and hospitality here
are unquestionable and unshakable. Regardless of my past, present, or
future, the Thiares family has given me all they have to offer. I
could be a stranger, or even a horrible person, and they would still
act with the same warmth. I have trusted them to take care of me and
they have trusted me to be a part of their family, with all the
responsibility that that may hold.
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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Family, Like it or Not

Evie S.,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

I don’t have any sisters. Even if I did, I would most likely not have the relationship that exists between my homestay sisters and I. That is one of complete and utter love; free of complicated problems caused by competition, stress, materialism, and selfishness back home. Although we don’t sit and confess our love, it […]

Posted On

03/24/14

Author

Evie S.

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2014-03-23 20:06:06
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-24 02:06:06
    [post_content] => The music from the wrestling match has finally ended; I am just
starting to fall asleep in my Bughut. Suddenly I jolt awake to a baby
goat right outside my window calling out to his mom, a donkey braying
in the street, chicken's clucking, and dogs fighting. It is 5 AM, the
world is supposed to be sleeping. At home I hear nothing at 5 AM,
maybe the soft hum of my ceiling fan on a hot night. Here in Senegal-
it is never quiet. I dose off, and am immediately re- woken to the
Call to Prayer blasting from the mosque down the road from where I
sleep. I hear voices outside my window and realize that the women in
my homestay family are now beginning their day, clanking around pots
and pans to make breakfast.

I am in Dene, and it is 5 AM, Sam barges in our hut and announces to
all of us students that the party has begun. I hear voices singing,
drums being played, and all types of animals waking up to a new day. I
walk outside to join the celebration and hear the ocean crashing, the
lone cricket chirping, the wind blowing, and the people of Dene
singing a welcome song to us foreigners. In this timeless place the
people are always ready to start the next task without complaint, and
thank God for the opportunity to live in the world that He created.
    [post_title] => Africa is Never Silent
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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Africa is Never Silent

Paige P.,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

The music from the wrestling match has finally ended; I am just starting to fall asleep in my Bughut. Suddenly I jolt awake to a baby goat right outside my window calling out to his mom, a donkey braying in the street, chicken’s clucking, and dogs fighting. It is 5 AM, the world is supposed to […]

Posted On

03/23/14

Author

Paige P.

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 99139
    [post_author] => 23
    [post_date] => 2014-03-23 17:18:35
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-23 23:18:35
    [post_content] => When we first arrived in Dene, the home of Babacar's father, I was
overwhelmed by the beauty of the seemingly desolate place. At first
glance, it may look like a stark, dry, barren land, but as I looked
closer, it came to life. After eating a dinner of pasta and mutton, we
napped, preparing for the festivities to come. We were awakened by Sam
around 5 am. "Something's happening!" she said excitedly, referring to
the many people singing and dancing through the night under a blue
tent-like structure. We all went down to the tent to see a kind of
party unknown to us until that point. Leading the activities was
Babacar's father, drumming and chanting and talking about Islam and
salaam (peace in Arabic) or jam (peace in Wolof). It was really
incredible to see. It was dark when we left the safety of our room to
explore something new and unknown to us at the time, but as they sang
and as I watched, the sun started to peek over the horizon, turning
the sky beautiful shades of purple, pink, and orange. As I watched the
people of Dene chant and sing and dance, I watched the sky. As I
sipped sweet NesCafe and ate small butter cookies, I watched the sky.
Even as I danced, I watched the sky. Never have I seen a more beautiful
sunrise than right then and there, before my very eyes, in Dene. Dene,
where at first glance it looks like a desert where nothing could
survive, there was something so colorful and so full of life it
overwhelmed me. But you would be wrong if you said that Dene was not a
vibrant place, because out of the seemingly desolate ground grows
green grass and cacti and trees of all kinds. There are people singing
and dancing through the night, celebrating not only their religion
itself, but their understanding of themselves, and their connection to
Allah through that understanding. It was absolutely incredible to
witness two such lively, vibrant celebrations, both right in front of
my eyes. One, a celebration of a connection to a Creator and an
understanding of self, and another, a celebration of life itself.
Right then, as I watched the sun come up, and as I watched the people
of Dene celebrate through dance and song, and as I joined in myself, I
felt like I was a part of something greater. I felt as if I was just
one small piece of a much larger puzzle, but in that moment, I felt a
connection to everyone that was dancing in that tent. It didn't matter
that we didn't practice the same religion or speak the same language
or wear the same clothes, we were joined together through celebration
and dance, and the connection between everyone dancing under that tent
couldn't be broken by anything in the world.
    [post_title] => As I Watched
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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As I Watched

Julia F.,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

When we first arrived in Dene, the home of Babacar’s father, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the seemingly desolate place. At first glance, it may look like a stark, dry, barren land, but as I looked closer, it came to life. After eating a dinner of pasta and mutton, we napped, preparing for […]

Posted On

03/23/14

Author

Julia F.

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-23 17:14:55
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    [post_content] => The kids on the street;
They look up at us,
A gaze of confusion
But they are in awe;
Desperate to even get a touch of our hands.
"Are they real?"
They must be thinking of this toubab,
In their native Wolof tongue.
Someone that should be a disruption.
Any toubab in their own homeland
Hearing one word out of these children's mouths,
"Nanga def," they say.
Would stop communication there.
See it as a barrier
When it could be an opening.
A new level of understanding,
Filled with gestures
And compromise,
Trying to find middle ground.
Miscommunication not frowned upon,
But turned into laughter.
Bubbly giggles,
That once were for making fun,
Now are ones shared between family.
A bond that can never be broken.
One of unspoken love
And undying care.
I can say I have two families now.
One in "Americ,"
But a family waiting here in Senegal as well.
    [post_title] => When a Toubab Visits Senegal
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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When a Toubab Visits Senegal

Maaryah M. (Bineta Thiare),Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

The kids on the street; They look up at us, A gaze of confusion But they are in awe; Desperate to even get a touch of our hands. “Are they real?” They must be thinking of this toubab, In their native Wolof tongue. Someone that should be a disruption. Any toubab in their own homeland […]

Posted On

03/23/14

Author

Maaryah M. (Bineta Thiare)

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    [post_date] => 2014-03-20 09:30:56
    [post_date_gmt] => 2014-03-20 15:30:56
    [post_content] => The humidity and dank stench in the cramped ndiaga ndiaye (mini bus)
were overwhelming when I saw a group of little boys walking with no
shoes, hand-me-down clothes and worn out backpacks. The group was
walking towards an empty, desolate area of the African savannah after
getting off of their school bus. With the sun blazing overhead
creating shadows over the palm trees, baobabs and the school children,
a true picture of these African people came to life. These young
children were most likely coming home from school which made them some
of the most fortunate of their village, yet to me they had almost
nothing. These people don't have material things but they have more
happiness, contentment and togetherness than I could ever imagine.
These people have more, even though those things may not be material.
In this moment I found that even though I am not of the highest class
in the US I am still more fortunate than most of those children. After
thinking about all the blessings in my life that I take for granted, I
have come to realize that the things I thought were necessities of
life or even luxuries that are sometimes confused with these
prerequisites aren't always necessary to be happy. The little things
in life that hold a lot of weight in our society aren't even
imaginable for these people in a place I can hopefully be able to call
a second home.
    [post_title] => The Simplicity of African Life
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Senegal HB - 2 week

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The Simplicity of African Life

Grace R.,Senegal HB - 2 week

Description

The humidity and dank stench in the cramped ndiaga ndiaye (mini bus) were overwhelming when I saw a group of little boys walking with no shoes, hand-me-down clothes and worn out backpacks. The group was walking towards an empty, desolate area of the African savannah after getting off of their school bus. With the sun […]

Posted On

03/20/14

Author

Grace R.

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