Photo of the Week
Photo Title


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    [post_date] => 2017-07-01 20:40:16
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-02 02:40:16
    [post_content] => Salaam Alekuum!

We wanted to write a quick note to update friends and family that all 9 students and 2 teachers have departed Senegal this evening. We have shared a truly special and deep two weeks together. We have come together as a family, sharing our daily poop scale, helping each other grab bags off of busses, huddling tightly together during a torrential downpour, laughing together, and leaning on each other when we've felt homesick or challenged.

Babacar and Ashley were sad to say goodbye to students a few hours ago and have confirmed their flight has taken off! Keep your eye out for a couple more students yaks yet to come!

Thank you for your sharing your incredible students with us the last 2 weeks. This journey together has been special for all of us and we hope to stay in touch and hear about how they will take this experience home with them.
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Nueva Senegal Has Departed

Ashley,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Salaam Alekuum! We wanted to write a quick note to update friends and family that all 9 students and 2 teachers have departed Senegal this evening. We have shared a truly special and deep two weeks together. We have come together as a family, sharing our daily poop scale, helping each other grab bags off […]

Posted On

07/1/17

Author

Ashley

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-01 09:01:41
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    [post_content] => Waking Up/Breakfast
Thursday. We woke up to a brilliant Senegalese sun in Dene, Babacar's fathers village. The air is crisp with the smell of goat manure and salt from the nearby ocean. We were greeted with a delicious yet predictable breakfast of fresh bread with a divine chocolate peanut spread and a variety of cocoa powders and tea. After some tidying up, we were ready to travel to the next part of the day.

The Lac Rose (the Red/Pink Lake)
The road was bumpy and the van shook with such ferocity we thought our heads would fly through the roof. We passed many mounds of sea salt we mistook as snow and as we came closer to our destination, the mounds became larger and larger, reaching up to eight feet in height. We arrived to a misleadingly blue lake that, when we dipped our feet in the water, it was surprisingly warm, and made open wounds hurt most terribly. The water was silky to the touch, and left an oily consistency on skin and clothing. Soon, we boarded a boat and were lectured how the salt was harvested and how Shea oil must be applied before going into the salt saturated water because it was at least 380 grams per liter (do the math). Men go out on boats and dig up salt from the lake floor, which is grey when first harvested. Women carry buckets of it back to shore and dump them into growing piles where it turns white. After a period of time, the salt is treated and sold or exported all over the world. After about twenty minutes on the lake we came back to merchants trying to sell there goods (and we must say they did a good job, as at least ten of us got a painting and/or a necklace).

Back to Dene
After yet another seemingly life-threatening van ride, we arrived back in the cool yet extraordinarily humid Dene. There, we had lunch and had a chance to rest and/or drum. During this drumming lesson we learned a new rhythm and were able to try all of the different drums including the bass and the djembe.

Beach Time
At five in the evening, we headed to the nearby beach. It was tranquil and serene, deserted excluding a herd of cows and several children playing in the sand. A group of us had the option to run along the beach as some of us were very restless. With all this peace and quiet, the teachers thought it would be sensible to journal on the edge of the water. It was a brilliant experience and as the sun set, we headed back to the village. Unbeknownst to us, a wonderful surprise was in store for us...

Party
We came back to the loud thumping of drums and the beautiful tones of a good voice. You see, every night, the village community had a ceremony to celebrate religion and light. The joyous singing and dancing drew us in and little children held our hands and danced with us. What a magical moment that was. After some time, all the Americans were called the front, for a special surprise. To our shock, the lead singer started singing our national anthem in Wolof. She hit every note with such stunning precision we were entranced in her melody. She sang it twice because someone wanted a video. Afterwards, we left the celebration for a delicious meal of millet coated with care in Vanilla yogurt infused with chunks of bananas and possibly dates, cooked by Babacar's giving and generous wife, Kine. This dish was called Laax, and it was fabulous.

What a day!
Written by Sydney and Jackson (or should say, Yakson yuk yuk yuk)
    [post_title] => Day 12: Reflecting On A Splashing Day In Dene
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Day 12: Reflecting On A Splashing Day In Dene

Sydney and Jackson,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Waking Up/Breakfast Thursday. We woke up to a brilliant Senegalese sun in Dene, Babacar’s fathers village. The air is crisp with the smell of goat manure and salt from the nearby ocean. We were greeted with a delicious yet predictable breakfast of fresh bread with a divine chocolate peanut spread and a variety of cocoa […]

Posted On

07/1/17

Author

Sydney and Jackson

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    [post_content] => Salaam alekum! This is Austin. Today we woke up at 6:30 and took turns showering. After that, we packed our bags and watched tv in our air conditioned room. We went down at 8 and ate our usual breakfast of bread and assortment of spreads. The group then went to the tapestry museum and learned how tapestries are made. Each square meter of tapestry can take up to 5 days!After the museum, we ate lunch at the hotel. The group walked over to the artisan market and we got souvenirs for everyone. After that, we got on the bus for a long trip to Babacar's fathers village. They had an assembly when we came over. Later we found out that they did a four hour assembly every day! Once we came, Babacar's father welcomed us and sang a song for us. After we sat at the assembly for half an hour, we had a good lesson on Islam from Babacar and ate dinner.
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Day 11: Artisans at work

Austin,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Salaam alekum! This is Austin. Today we woke up at 6:30 and took turns showering. After that, we packed our bags and watched tv in our air conditioned room. We went down at 8 and ate our usual breakfast of bread and assortment of spreads. The group then went to the tapestry museum and learned how tapestries […]

Posted On

07/1/17

Author

Austin

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    [post_date] => 2017-07-01 08:30:05
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    [post_content] => Yesterday was our last morning on the island. It was the last morning we would spend with our families and the children. I woke up super early super sad to leave, but with a huge urge to spend the time I had left saying my goodbyes. We walk down to the dock and all the kids are waiting with us. One kid specifically that I will miss is Hablai. He was so comfortable with playing and goofing around with me. We boarded the boat thinking that this was the last time I will see them or maybe in a long while. Until it started to rain and we had to stay in the shelters nearby until the rain passed by. My initial reaction was "Yay! We get to stay longer," but then I was bummed because it felt isolating sitting for an hour for the rain to pas. During that hour of rain, I saw three different groups of boys jump into the shallow water by the dock. It felt so strange to see these kids just playing in the rain because I feel like I would not like getting my dry clothes wet, but at the same time I would love to just stand in the rain. The same group of children that I played soccer with came to us after they got it of the water. We took some pictures with them and played ninja but without contact with them.

When the rain stopped, we loaded the boat and said goodbye to the kids at the dock. For what felt like a minute, we waved goodbye until we couldn't see them anymore. As we took five on the boat, I thought about how much differently I felt coming into the island and how it felt leaving. Coming in I felt so scared for what to expect, but leaving felt so sad and like in five days, I have made a second family. I fell asleep so time went by quickly.

When I woke up, I could feel salt water stinging my bug bite and we were getting our stuff out of the boat and into our truck. It was raining out and many of us were wet and tired so we just wanted to get to Thies as fast as we could to settle in. On the way we stopped for lunch at a nearby restaurant/hotel. They served us fish and rice or French fries. I was so hungry from the travel and I ate all my food as soon as I got it. Then we drive the rest of the way to Thies. I slept some more so I couldn't tell how long it took. We unloaded our packs in the hotel and I found out I was rooming with Mina. When we entered the room, I immediately realized how nice it was. The room was clean, had AC, Western toilets, and good lighting.
After settling down and talking to Mina (by the way she is amazing and funny), we checked in then went to the nearby store where we stocked up on food and supplies we needed for the rest of the trip. After our trip to the store, we walked to the small place we were eating at. Waking into the store reminded me of my time in Beijing, China, when my family brought me to eat at a small store in a small alley and it was the best food I tasted all week. I felt the same way about that shop. There were only a few things in the menu. The two dishes they were serving were omelettes and kabobs. I ordered a kabob and it came in the form of cooked food on a dish with mustard. It was sooooo delicious. There were onions that tasted sweet, potatoes and fried meat. After dinner we went back to the hotel which was around the corner. Some of us made a quick phone cal home. The connection was not great so it was hard to talk about all the things I wanted to share with my mom. I was able to check in and I felt a lot better after. I took a very long shower hoping to feel clean after but I still felt like I was covered in dirt still. I stayed up and wrote a postcard to my future self so if I ever felt insecure about my memories, I would be able to see how I felt in the moment. I also journaled a little after Mina went to sleep, before I got too tired and fell asleep.
    [post_title] => Day 10: boo jaf lamas (goodbye Niodior)
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Day 10: boo jaf lamas (goodbye Niodior)

Fiona,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Yesterday was our last morning on the island. It was the last morning we would spend with our families and the children. I woke up super early super sad to leave, but with a huge urge to spend the time I had left saying my goodbyes. We walk down to the dock and all the […]

Posted On

07/1/17

Author

Fiona

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    [post_date] => 2017-06-29 07:17:27
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    [post_content] => When we arrived in Senegal, it was the end of Ramadan, a month-long Muslim holiday celebrating the revelation of the Koran. During this time, Muslims fast during the day and focus on feeding the poor and being charitable. On the last day, Korite, there is a celebration in the community.

The first event was a special breakfast prepared by my host family, called Lauh. This was a porridge with sweet mango yogurt served with bread. It was delicious.

In the morning, the men changed into their new clothes and went to special prayers at the mosque. Later, in the afternoon, women went to pray.

Many men wore new traditional pants and tops, often clean and white with fancy embroidery. Women were seen sporting vibrant, lively patterns in bright colors on dresses and headscarves. Children also dressed up in new soccer jerseys or outfits, some even in tiny matching traditional dresses. Our group met wearing the beautiful clothing we all had tailored and received many compliments from the ladies sitting on the bench. Everyone was very colorful.

Around the late afternoon, kids went from house to house asking for coins, kind of like trick-or-treating on Halloween. They would use this money to buy something for themselves such as tea to drink with friends. This holiday was a break from many chores and culminated in sitting in my host family's courtyard, under their mango tree, looking at the stars.
    [post_title] => Day 9: Korite in/at/on Niodior
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Day 9: Korite in/at/on Niodior

Sydney,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

When we arrived in Senegal, it was the end of Ramadan, a month-long Muslim holiday celebrating the revelation of the Koran. During this time, Muslims fast during the day and focus on feeding the poor and being charitable. On the last day, Korite, there is a celebration in the community. The first event was a […]

Posted On

06/29/17

Author

Sydney

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    [post_date] => 2017-06-28 11:32:05
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-28 17:32:05
    [post_content] => I wake up to my roommate, Adrienne, talking to me. "What time is it?" I ask, glancing down at my watch.  6:30, the display reads.  Great.  I stay in bed, knowing I don't have to meet the group until 9.  The more sleep I get, the better.
***
2.5 hours later, I'm showered and then ready to go.  We eat a hurried breakfast of (can you guess?) bread at the teachers' homestay and then we hit the road. We're walking to the preschool we've been decorating for one last day of service. Today, we'll be repainting the slide and merry-go-round, as well as painting inside a big white heart on the outer wall. I'm really excited to beautify more of the school, since the work we did yesterday is dry and looks beautiful. I jump right into painting the slide, loading my brush with white primer and spreading a generous amount along the railings. About twenty minutes later, I've covered the majority of the part that I'm working on, and I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I'm also feeling rather sick, so I hand my brush off to someone else and go take a break in the shade.  A few minutes later,  I take a couple sips of water and lie down. I let the teachers know, and they begin asking me questions and trying to figure out what the problem is. Finally, they give me a Tylenol to help with my headache and told me to drink water and rest.
***
Meanwhile, the slide had been primed and painted, as had the merry-go round. People were trying to decide what to paint on the heart outside. Using the village children's drawings as inspiration, we finally decided on a person, a palm tree, and a monkey. Everyone got to work painting it, and even got the children in on it! By the time we had to leave, everything was looking amazing!
***
After we go home, I take a long nap and wake up feeling very refreshed. I even go outside and play a little bit of soccer with the kids!
***
With a little less than a week left of the trip, I think I can speak for a lot of us when I say that we're a little bit homesick, but also so excited for what's to come! In a few days, we'll be leaving our homestay families for the next step in our journey, so we'll write soon!
    [post_title] => Day 8: Painting and Family Time
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Day 8: Painting and Family Time

Carolyn,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

I wake up to my roommate, Adrienne, talking to me. “What time is it?” I ask, glancing down at my watch.  6:30, the display reads.  Great.  I stay in bed, knowing I don’t have to meet the group until 9.  The more sleep I get, the better. *** 2.5 hours later, I’m showered and then ready […]

Posted On

06/28/17

Author

Carolyn

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    [post_date] => 2017-06-26 09:23:14
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    [post_content] => Salaam malekuum! This is Pascal writing on June 24th from Niodior. Today, we finished painting at the preschool before receiving out tailored clothes for Korite, the festival celebrating the end of Ramadan. The paintings turned out really well! After lunch, we received a brief introduction to Islam. After this, we rode a horse cart to the delta and planted hundreds of mangrove trees as part of the mangrove reforestation project. Because of global warming, many mangrove trees died in the 1980s, and there was eventually a hole worn in the protective mangroves around the island, increasing the ferocity of winter storms and forcing many Senegalease out of their native environment. Additionally, huge amounts of island erosion were observed. Now, mangrove reforestation is a national project spearheaded by many different NGO's. Additionally, the woman's co-op plays a major role in this area, and our guide was in charge of the project there.
While it may seem that the mangrove deforestation is a small impact of climate change that does not really affect us, it has far reaching consequences. The dearth of sea life created trouble for much of the island and other similar villages because much of the economy survives on fishing. A struggling economy is far more susceptible to destabilization, war, and terrorism than a fully functioning one for several reasons, including citizen dissatisfaction, more unemployment, and a weakened government. A currently unfolding example of this can be seen in Venezuela, where the economy collapsed after OPEC flooded the market with cheap crude oil. Another potential problem is large-scale illegal immigration to Europe, which is already occurring. This can cause hundreds of lives to be lost in transportation accidents, as well as contribute to economic collapse in countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, which in turn weakens the EU and contributes to events like Brexit. In conclusion, mangrove deforestation can have far-reaching impacts.
On a different note, we are halfway through the course, and very excited for Kerite. Also, today is Adrienne's birthday!
Basuba, Pascal
    [post_title] => Day 7
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Day 7

Pascal,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Salaam malekuum! This is Pascal writing on June 24th from Niodior. Today, we finished painting at the preschool before receiving out tailored clothes for Korite, the festival celebrating the end of Ramadan. The paintings turned out really well! After lunch, we received a brief introduction to Islam. After this, we rode a horse cart to […]

Posted On

06/26/17

Author

Pascal

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    [post_content] => What a day. After spending a couple hours in the morning with our hosts, we met up at Babacar's meeting place at 9:50. There, we had check-ins and walked to the Woman's cooperative, an NGO that packages seafood. Afterwards, we had lunch and went swimming. There were thousands of crabs there, and it was rather entertaining when one of us was walking along the beach full of crabs and didn't notice them and the rest of us pointed it out and they panicked. We interacted with local children swimming and took turns drumming. Then we went to a preschool to paint the walls and seats. There we had our evening checkin then departed to our homes. My host family is so wonderful and tries to make us as comfortable as possible. Before dinner we all take showers (me, Pascal, and Austin) and herd the goats into their cage. Every night at around 8, we go out to his family compound where he, his mom, aunt, cousins, nephews, nieces, etc. all live. We drink some tea and eat bread outside then we hang out for a couple hours, until around 10 when we break the Ramadan fast and eat dinner, usually fish, vegetables, and rice. This is either eaten by hand or with spoons (no forks). When the plate is clean (it always is), we go inside to watch tv for a few minutes before going back home. It was crazy hot that night, so it was very hard to fall asleep, and then there was the fact that the sand never seemed to want to get off my mat. In the end, I got a less than decent sleep but was still slightly refreshed on the morning. I found this day extraordinarily enjoyable, not just because we spent more than an hour swimming in refreshing water and soaking our feet in mud, but because I really got to interact with the local kids and the kids on the trip. I learned a lot about culture in Senegal and Africa in general: drumming is actually hard and it isn't just banging a pot, it is making music; if you do not greet someone you know, even if you just saw the person one minute ago you have to greet them again; there are many, many different greetings when you see someone you know, more than just a simple "hello".

Overall today was really awesome. I love Africa!!!!
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Day 6

Jackson,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

What a day. After spending a couple hours in the morning with our hosts, we met up at Babacar’s meeting place at 9:50. There, we had check-ins and walked to the Woman’s cooperative, an NGO that packages seafood. Afterwards, we had lunch and went swimming. There were thousands of crabs there, and it was rather entertaining […]

Posted On

06/26/17

Author

Jackson

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    [post_content] => Bonjour. Salam malekum. It's me, Happy Hannah and its June 22nd today. I've been waiting for my turn to have the most awesome role existing: yakker. And now I am, so yeah! I am going to make the most out of my post. I want to be unique. I like standing out. So why not start out with a poem describing Senegal:

Sunny
Energetic
Noisy
Exciting
Generous
Authentic
Learning experience/opportunity

Now below I have another poem describing my experience when walking off the plane and onto Senegal's ground.

My eyes open,
I blink
Yawning
I lengthen my arms to stretch
Sitting in the lounge chair
One that I have been in for over 7 hours,
An adventure awaits,
I tell myself
I'll be fine
Sluggishly I walk down the stairs
To enter a new world
One I am clueless about
Deep breaths
Overwhelmed
Exhaustion

Our day started when we met the teachers/instructors at 11:15am. Energized after 7 hours of sleep, we did the most amazing thing! We got our fabric tailored. I was greeted by by the tailor with a warm, excited, and happy smile. I was handed his large, black Samsung phone. On it were multiple stunning African dress designs that I had the pleasure of choosing from. Thrilled to choose, I slowly swiped through all the design choices. When going into this I wanted a shorter more fitted dress, but after looking through countless fabulous dress designs, I chose a longer flowy-er dress. I absolutely cannot wait to see my stunning tailored dress on Saturday. I am absolutely positive I will love it! During this experience we were measured (in awkward places that made us laugh). Anyway, we were able to choose any design we wanted on our fabric.

Exhausted, after a few hours in the humidity and warmth from the house, we then ate a delicious authentic lunch. After we were done, ten minutes later, we hopped onto a luxurious carriage ride so that we could take in all the breathtaking scenery that I've never experienced anything like before. The baobab tree we passed:   Large, brown, old, and zen. When I saw it I was calmed. All I wanted to do was sleep/draw/one meditate.

On our tour we stopped at a school. A school unfinished or un(fully)painted. The paint is chipping slowly making the walls bare. We were challenged to imagine a new wall, a newly painted beautiful wall. We will be painting it tomorrow. I can't wait!! So many ideas I can bring to life. But which are best suitable for both the children and the teachers? I will have to figure this out along my long unplanned journey.

I am excited to see how this to-week adventure will change me as a person and my lens/view on everything. I miss the sweet smell of home and the laughter that fills me with joy. TTYL. Aurevior. PS I wrote a Hello (by Adele) parody below:

*****
Hello
It's me
I'm in Senegal Africa where I get to meet homestay families
And see
What it's like to be a traveler in a different country

Hello
Can you hear me
I'm in Senegal Africa where it is very noisy
Experiencing
Everything
I have learned how privileged I am
To live in Cali
There's such a difference
From the US
And a "million miles"

So hello from Senegal
I'm trying hard to see it all
Taste new food
Meet our
"Families"
It's different, but I,
Can't wait to see,
Everything

*****
You must be exhausted after reading all of this. I'm sorry. I love to write! Now I'm done for real. Can't wait to see you all back in America!! See you kinda soon. :)
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Day 5: Tailoring

Hannah,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Bonjour. Salam malekum. It’s me, Happy Hannah and its June 22nd today. I’ve been waiting for my turn to have the most awesome role existing: yakker. And now I am, so yeah! I am going to make the most out of my post. I want to be unique. I like standing out. So why not […]

Posted On

06/24/17

Author

Hannah

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    [post_date] => 2017-06-23 07:15:25
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    [post_content] => Internet can be spotty here, and we just realized this morning that the day 4 blog never made it into the  Interwebs. While out of order, please still enjoy.

-Avery

**********

At 7:30am, Hannah, Fiona, and I wake up to Carolyn's "good morning" through our bug nets. As we are packing our bags, the wind sounds outside. The sky is gray, and the air is colder that usual, but mosquitos still buzz around my ears. Our group comes together in the hotel restaurant and we have a breakfast of baguette, Chocolion spread, jam, and hot chocolate. Breakfast is different today because Babacar is eating with us. When you are traveling it isn't required to fast as long as you make it up at the end of Ramadan.

After breakfast we have our daily morning meeting and,earn that the boat ride to Niodior is one hour. For the rest of the morning we have two-on-one check-ins with either Babacar and Avery or Carolyn and Ashley. While we wait for our turn there is a journal prompt for everyone: write to your homestay family about why you came to Senegal, what you want them to know about you, and what strengths you have that will help yo connect to your homestay family. Although we did not give these let's to our homestay family, getting a chance to reflect and look forward to our stay was helpful reflection.

Around 1pm, we got on the boat and had a refreshing ride. I was closer to the back of the boat and got soaked! My entire shirt was wet and my pants were also drenched. I thought I was going to be wet for a while, but because it was so hot everything dried quickly. When we got close to the island, mangrove forests were everywhere, half submerged in the water. Our boat docked and all these kids (many onder  six-years-old) started yelling "Toubab." Toubab means westerner and at first we thought it had a negative connotation, but it is just what they say when they see Americans. The kids helped us load all of our bags and water onto the horse-drawn carriage to bring to our houses. Because we are so close to the water, some kids just jump off the dock and dove into the water. We then walked to the homestay house that Avery, Carolyn, Ashley, and Babacar are staying in. We learned some more Wolof (Survival Wolof 101) and had lunch. We ate rice, fish, and vegetables. Then we got to meet our host family!! Mina and I were paired with an 18 year old girl named Binta. We greeted her and her family in Wolof and French.

After learning a little about BInta and her family, she took us to get water from the well. At first it was hard to communicate, but Mina and I started to understand more as the day went on. After dinner (noodles and onion sauce), we taught the kids how to play Uno! We wanted to keep playing, especially since it was a way to communicate without talking. However, the next morning Amina and I would be getting up at 5am to eat breakfast before dawn because of Ramadan.
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Day 4: Off to Homestays

Adrienne,PARTNERSHIP: Nueva Senegal

Description

Internet can be spotty here, and we just realized this morning that the day 4 blog never made it into the  Interwebs. While out of order, please still enjoy. -Avery ********** At 7:30am, Hannah, Fiona, and I wake up to Carolyn’s “good morning” through our bug nets. As we are packing our bags, the wind […]

Posted On

06/23/17

Author

Adrienne

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