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    [post_date] => 2008-11-20 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Hey you guys! I'm taking British Poetry at school, and recently we had an assignment to write about a place in nature in imitation of the romantic poets. I ended up writing about Senegal and I wanted to share my poem with you. I hope you enjoy it! :)

Dindifello

I lounge in stillness; from my perch I feel
These many sleeping forms that me surround
Imbue a sense of calmness to the scene,
I contemplate their efforts aided by
The ceiling fan, which sends the slightest breeze.
I shut my eyes against the spinning blades
That ruthless cut like knives across my sight,
And turn my mind instead to gentler things,
Like how the light doth play against my lids
And dance in patterns that speak of other times.
I cannot help but think my soul grows wings
To carry me through summer memories;
My fingers skimming Oceans, vast, of Time,
I close my eyes and fly to Senegal.

Again I visit Dindifello, home
To my beloved waterfall. And I,
I once again crane my neck to the sky
To seek the peak of those vertiginous
Cascades, regard with awe the jagged, sheer
Expanse of rock, no doubt by lightning carved
Or by the sword of Time incised,
And drink the sparkling water with my eyes.
Again I sink with joy into the cold—
Cold shocking after many weeks of heat—
Embrace, and let the waters close above
My head, and icy, trembling me caress;
I dive, I frolic, and I swim as Time
Immeasurable floats by like debris.
I glide into the outskirts of the falls,
Where me a mystical mist finely shrouds;
I venture further; droplets kiss my cheeks;
Yet farther go I; torrents strike my back,
Importing the full force, terrifying,
Enchanting, powerful, and thunderous,
Of Dindifello, of Nature, to me.

I don’t presume to know what lies in store;
I may return to Senegal or not,
But always will I cherished moments hold
In some recess or chamber of my mind,
And safely guard these memories, and thus
Ensure safe passage to the past on wings
Of thought. In quiet seconds of repose,
I’ll soar; I’ll remember the sensation
Of rivulets that run along my spine,
My shoulders strong beneath a waterfall.
You may join me now if you so dare;
Come plunge into the deep pools of my verse,
And on the feathered limbs of fancy ride.

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Dindifello

Toby Israel,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Hey you guys! I’m taking British Poetry at school, and recently we had an assignment to write about a place in nature in imitation of the romantic poets. I ended up writing about Senegal and I wanted to share my poem with you. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Dindifello I lounge in stillness; from […]

Posted On

11/20/08

Author

Toby Israel

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    [post_content] => I would like to greet everyone and see if you all had a good return.  I wish you “du bonne courage” and good success.  I really greet you and I miss you a lot.  I greet Max, my guitar professor; MT, my English professor; Wally, my wrestler; Dahlia, my wife; and I greet all the kids who were here.  I would like really to have contact between us, but I don’t have anyone’s address.  I would also like to receive you another time in Thies (because at this moment I am in Thies).  I am well, I feel well, like usual.

I am always “the old woman of the forest” (la vieille dame de la forêt).

I often think of you. Thank you.

You can call me if you’d like:
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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Your favorite “endu”

Boubacar Sylla,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

I would like to greet everyone and see if you all had a good return. I wish you “du bonne courage” and good success. I really greet you and I miss you a lot. I greet Max, my guitar professor; MT, my English professor; Wally, my wrestler; Dahlia, my wife; and I greet all the […]

Posted On

09/1/08

Author

Boubacar Sylla

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2008-08-20 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Greetings everyone -

Assalam Malekum (I wish I had learned how to spell that!)

I've been meaning to write something for days, just waiting for the perfect words to pop into my head.... and now suddenly this morning I feel like its about time (even though I'm not yet sure exactly what I want to say).

It feels kind of strange to be posting a yak yak here - its so quiet! I'm sitting at the kitchen table in a family-friend's house in martha's vineyard island. Its a beautiful day- perfectly clear sky, slight breeze, warm in the sun but cool in the shade. Sitting here with a mug of tea and the remnants of a chocolate croissant, and my journal, I really could not be more comfortable. But as usual when I find myself in a such a pleasant, perfect place I can't help comparing. I can't help thinking of a place where there are no personal computers, and beautiful empty houses artistically equiped with such ordinary things as chairs, lamps, refigerators, microwaves and mowed fenced-in lawns - where there is no such thing as skim milk and piles of white paper napkins.

I think about it walking through grocery stores, restaurants, gyms....I see people walking by with their strollers and shopping bags and can't help listening to their conversations about this and that (since I can actually understand them). I find myself wondering what it would be like to live your whole life thinking this is it -being conscious of unknown, distant places, but only seeing them as colorful geometric shapes on the world map, or disturbing photographs in national geographic, hardly more real than the scary things you see in the movies.

I know that this is still the limit of my knowledge of the majority of the world. But I am so, so greatful now that one tiny bit of this great unknown has been made real to me. Senegal is no longer a dream-land to me (although while I was there I sometimes felt like I had dropped into a fairy tale). It is a real, tangible, hot, smelly, dusty, beautiful, quirky place. It is a place with history, depth and character - full of young and old people with their own cares, problems and dreams - people who could never imagine life outside of their villages, life with big supermarkets and elevators and drive-through take-out.

So thankyou everyone - mom, dad, mo and pop-pop, and everyone else who made the trip possible for me. Thanks to Mbouille, Inbal, Carolyn and of course all you gurke and kartoffel fans out there (those would be the other students on our trip) for the experiences and memories of this summer. It is so important to me that I am able to sense, even at the randomest moments during my extraordinarily comfortable, pleasant life, that that other slice of the world is really there, millions of miles away.

Sending my love to you all,

Gaya

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Thanks

Gaya Morris,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Greetings everyone – Assalam Malekum (I wish I had learned how to spell that!) I’ve been meaning to write something for days, just waiting for the perfect words to pop into my head…. and now suddenly this morning I feel like its about time (even though I’m not yet sure exactly what I want to […]

Posted On

08/20/08

Author

Gaya Morris

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    [post_date] => 2008-08-13 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Dear all,

This morning I sat down and finally read all the Yak Yaks that have been posted since the beginning of the trip. I think I knew it would be bittersweet, so I wanted to delay it as long as possible.

Now, as on that night just a few days ago when we said goodbye at the airport in Dakar, my heart is full.

Thank you for your words, your joy, your struggles, your strength, your music, and your presence this summer. I hope we will all be together again someday.

Inbal

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Fond memories

Inbal Samin,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Dear all, This morning I sat down and finally read all the Yak Yaks that have been posted since the beginning of the trip. I think I knew it would be bittersweet, so I wanted to delay it as long as possible. Now, as on that night just a few days ago when we said […]

Posted On

08/13/08

Author

Inbal Samin

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    [post_date] => 2008-08-10 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Here we are, August 9th, still travelling. Our flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine, yesterday afternoon, but finally, at 11pm, we found ourselves at the Courtyard Marriott in NYC for the night. Starving, we first used every resource available to reach a Chinese food restaurant and enjoyed a midnight feast delivered to our room.

Surprisingly and happily, Senegal seems to have followed us to New York. At breakfast, decked in our colorful pagnes, we were immediately picked out by a certain hotel employee as having ties to his country.

He asked if we were from Senegal, and we replied with a smile, "yes". We discussed our travels, our gris gris, our limited abilities to speak Wolof. (He gave a us a steep discount of breakfast, arguing that we Senegalese must take care of our own!) His abundant joy at our love of his country made us realize how amazing our experience truly was, and just how much our new knowledge can mean to others that we meet.

As we were leaving, our new friend asked if we would see each other in Senegal, and we replied, to his surprise and delight, "Inshallah".

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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It’s Not Over Yet

Margo Jacobsen and Toby Israel,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Here we are, August 9th, still travelling. Our flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine, yesterday afternoon, but finally, at 11pm, we found ourselves at the Courtyard Marriott in NYC for the night. Starving, we first used every resource available to reach a Chinese food restaurant and enjoyed a midnight feast delivered to our room. Surprisingly […]

Posted On

08/10/08

Author

Margo Jacobsen and Toby Israel

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    [post_date] => 2008-08-09 00:00:00
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Hey all,

I just sat down and read over your posts from Dakar (both pre and post Toubab Diallaw), and they are beautiful! It's funny, I sat down to find the number for a Thai restaurant for take out, but despite my intentions I found myself typing in wheretherebedragons.com. Your words are so beautiful, and each yak yak calls different memories to my mind.My eyesactually started to tear when I read Walker's P.S. quoting Charlotte (or paraphrasing perhaps), "We have come so far, and learned tolove this world more. I think that now, we will refuse to settle for less."

I am definitely missing you all, wishing I had Mbouille and Inbal here with me to share stories of our adventures (misadventures) in travel returning from Senegal yesterday. Who knew that the rugged adventure part would apply to the return trip?! You all handled everything with the grace, humor, goodwill and style that characterized your approach to broken down transport and late meals and baby and bird droppings throughout the trip. What's another five hours in the plane when we've come so far and have come to love the world so much.

It's such a relief not to have to ask anyone about their poop scale or to ensure that everyone took their meds (but do take your meds!), but I also have to say that I really miss you all! You taught me so much about Senegal and renewed my sense of awe that this is the work I get to do in the world. And you made me laugh a lot and made such beautiful music together.

I hope you are all well! Jamm tun, sahelbe an!

Carolyn

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Thanks

Carolyn Michael,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Hey all, I just sat down and read over your posts from Dakar (both pre and post Toubab Diallaw), and they are beautiful! It’s funny, I sat down to find the number for a Thai restaurant for take out, but despite my intentions I found myself typing in wheretherebedragons.com. Your words are so beautiful, and […]

Posted On

08/9/08

Author

Carolyn Michael

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    [post_date] => 2008-08-07 00:00:00
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A few days ago, I thought things were winding down. We all sensed the end coming nearer and couldn't resist frequent conversations about the plane ride home, our arrival, all the things we were looking forward to like beds, showers and salads. A few days ago I was perhaps more looking forward to going home than I am now (the actual day of our departure), but not as ready. I will try to explain.....

A few of us left Dakar early on saturday morning, riding sleepily in a minicar to a catholic monastary to hear some of the beautiful kora music that it is well known for. We were not disappointed by the serenade of koras, soft tapping drums, and deep harmonizing voices of christian monks. Later that day we rejoined the rest of the group in Thies. That one day in Thies was marked mostly by exhuastion and incredible heat - but there was something significant about returning to the place that we began our journey, seeing Mbuye's family, and completing a sort of circle. That night we stayed up much later than we should of as usual trying to make ataya (the extra sugary green tea that the Senegalese could probably make over a fire with their eyes closed), talking to Babakar (a teacher of religion and an amazing resource about basically anything having to do with Senegal) and visited briefly by Boobs (our guide from our trekk who is now working in Thies).

The next day we had a lesson with Babakar and mBuye in the morning to prepare us for our day trip to the religious city of Touba. We dressed carefully, us girls covering our heads, and we visited the enourmous castle like mosque.

That night we traveled to the small town of Denn on the coast south of Dakar to spend the night in the village compound that Babakar's father, a relgious leader who started his own sort of branch of Suffism, founded. After unloading our packs from atop the minicar, helped by a bunch of tall figures with dred locks anddressed in black, we walked off into the darkness along a sandy path. Feeling a sort of empty tiredness, I was suddenly awakened as we drew nearer and we heard singing. Trudging through the sand in the darkness towards a distant glow of white light illuminating dark figures marching in the tightcircle and chanting the same phraseinrange of dissonant tones is a moment I certainly will not forget. Even a few days before our departure I felt that I had stumbled into a world entirely unknown and mysterious. After dropping my pack I was happy to just sit down in the sand and watch in the distance for a while. The chanting never change, the movement neer changed, their energy never lessened, and neither did my fascination.

Our departure from Denn the next morning, like so many other goodbyes of this trip, felt much too rushed. Once again I felt that I had only had a brief peak into a whole new world. I wasn't so sure about leaving such a beautiful seaside village to spend the last few days in a resort on the beach. But now I certainly understand why we left. The few days (really only one full day) that we spent in tubab-diallo soaking in such a beautiful, peaceful setting were perhaps some of the most meaningful of this whole trip. I didn't spend so much time on the beech as I had expected because we just spent so much time talking. Each of us presented what we had learned from our ISP investigations, and we read a provoking article on the duty of charity and had a thorough discussion about that. It was so exciting to realize how much we actually had learned, and how much we had to talk about. Certain subjects such as FGC, Senegalese politics, religion, and global responsibility that previously I might have not known how to discuss, I now have much more to say about. I have both stronger feelings and opionions, and more questions. We spent the evenings talking about the past six weeks - reviewing highlights, challenges, changes - and putting everything together. I think the past few days were too enjoyable for anyone to think too gloomily about the goodbyes ahead. So I won't write about that yet. We're still here and I still have so much to do (like pack, write several course evaluations, pick up things from tailors, eat a last senegalese meal) that its hard to grasp the fact that tomorrow I'll be in the airport in Madrid probably sitting at a starbucks or brushing my teeth infront of a mirror with an automatic faucet......

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Last day

Gaya Morris,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

A few days ago, I thought things were winding down. We all sensed the end coming nearer and couldn’t resist frequent conversations about the plane ride home, our arrival, all the things we were looking forward to like beds, showers and salads. A few days ago I was perhaps more looking forward to going home […]

Posted On

08/7/08

Author

Gaya Morris

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    [post_content] => Reflecting on the trip,I would like to take the time to answer a question my father asked me three weeks ago. in the midst of the cultural awkwardness that defined our homestays my dad asked me if I was still having fun. this struck as a very odd question. The truth was that in the strict sense of the word this experience was not fun in many ways. however,I thoroughly enjoyed myself almost everyday. This was a growth experience, and while it may not have been enjoyable to be squashed in a car for 19 hours, harrassed by men in the market or use a concrete hole as a toilette, it was worth every moment. 
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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Leaving

Hannah Stonebraker,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Reflecting on the trip,I would like to take the time to answer a question my father asked me three weeks ago. in the midst of the cultural awkwardness that defined our homestays my dad asked me if I was still having fun. this struck as a very odd question. The truth was that in the […]

Posted On

08/7/08

Author

Hannah Stonebraker

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Here we are again, back in Dakar, but in less than 12 hours we are going to leave again, this time for home. We will all return to our homes, our families, and our individual lives, independent of this group and of Senegal. Over the past few days, culture shock and the difficulties of returning home after adapting to another culture have been topics of much discussion. We have all undoubtedly adapted to Senegalese culture; we have mastered the greetings, overcome the toilets, adjusted to the food,triumphed over public transportation, and accepted differences. I think we all could say that to some degree we have become accustomed to, or even comfortable in, another country and culture.

Our discussions, however, center around the difficulties of coming back to the American culture we left behind, and therein lies my greatest fear for the trip. I am afraid that I won't be frustrated, or misunderstood, that I won't be shocked by the culture, that I will not experience any of the symptoms we have talked about; in short, I am afraid I will go back unchanged. Physically, of course, my boundaries have grown; no car ride will ever seem long, nor will any day seem hot or any toilet unapproachable. But in more significant ways, in terms of perspective or personal growth, I don't feel that I have changed. I don't even know what that means about my perspective and who I was before the trip, if it's good or bad; I don't even know if I may prove myself wrong. I guess it's a mystery.

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Going Home

Toby Israel,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

Here we are again, back in Dakar, but in less than 12 hours we are going to leave again, this time for home. We will all return to our homes, our families, and our individual lives, independent of this group and of Senegal. Over the past few days, culture shock and the difficulties of returning […]

Posted On

08/7/08

Author

Toby Israel

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I really do not know what to say for the last in-field yak yak. Toubaab Diallow was absolutely beautiful. I do not feel ready to leave Senegal or even to go home. I am no where near finished exploring this country, let alone this continent. I have gotten a taste of what I can forsee becoming a big part of my life.

The other day we read Peter Singer "The Singer Solution to World Poverty". Some people were really bothered by the article, however I somewhat agree. The basic idea was if we do not give absolutely everything we can (while still being healthy and educated) to others in poverty and hunger and unrest and disease and any other thing we can think of that we call "third world", then we deserve to feel guilty. Not only do we deserve to feel guilty but to be a moral person, one must take steps to do that. Singer was pushing us to look at his perspective that one is obligated to give a fourth of our income to the poor. We had a discussion about this view and about human kind and morality. It was a productive taste to leave in our mouths as we return to our "first world" tonight. Now that we have had this experience, I am asking myself what I should now do, whether it is the extreme Singer Solution or just to volunteer my time somewhere.I know that whatever I decide to do with my new knowledge and experience in Senegal, it is going to be spread towards helping others because as a westerner, I have the ability and power to do so.

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Senegal, Summer 2008

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Last Day in Toubaab Diallow & Yoff

Jordan Strafer,Senegal, Summer 2008

Description

I really do not know what to say for the last in-field yak yak. Toubaab Diallow was absolutely beautiful. I do not feel ready to leave Senegal or even to go home. I am no where near finished exploring this country, let alone this continent. I have gotten a taste of what I can forsee […]

Posted On

08/7/08

Author

Jordan Strafer

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