Friday, July 30, 2010
I miss sleeping with Smudge and I’m ready to go home but, I have had an experience here unlike any of my other travels. I’ve had trouble understanding much of what I’ve seen but, this I can tell you for sure; Africa wants our respect as a brother with an equal birthright. Yes, there is much poverty here but, as we offer a helping hand we must be willing to acknowledge our own shortcomings and offer to work side-by-side as equal partners to better the world. I have seen many clever entrepreneurs and hard working people with an optimistic vision of the future.
For now, I will need more time to reflect on my experience. But, the strongest image in my mind is of a small girl in Toubacouta. She was maybe two or three years old and she leaned next to me as the drummers were drumming and many of the villagers were dancing. I could tell she had a strong urge to run out and dance as she watched some of the older girls dance. Eventually, she ran out with a very serious look on her face and danced with surprising skill. All the older girls were smiling and laughing as they danced but, this little one maintained her sober face and when finished dancing she returned to her place next to me as seriously as when she had left. It was clear to me that she needed to be a part of the dance and she was intent on giving her best dance.
A few minutes later, one of the dancers grabbed my hand and invited me to dance. I was like that young girl. I decided to give my best dance. Though I’m sure my moves were awkward, my dance partner could see I was offering my best and her eyes lit up as we moved to the pounding rhythm. Sweat ran from our brows as our faces got closer and our eyes locked and our hearts pounded in unison. Our conversation was not in French nor even in Wolof but, I think I’ve never had such a meaningful discussion.
I gave my best dance.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Here's a picture of my lunch from yesterday.
Today we went south to the Gambian boarder and talked the guards into letting us cross without a visa.
This is a video from a party the people in the village gave us last night. It seems I have become the John Travolta of Toubacouta. They really like my dancing. It may take a few minutes to load but, it's worth it.
Friday, July 23, 2010
We were on the road most of the day yesterday but, I saw this boy in an Obama shirt when we stopped for lunch. After a very bumpy ride, we eventually arrived in Toubacouta and are staying in a very nice place on the Saloum River. We've already seen some monkeys and will be taking a trip down the river this afternoon. I wanted to upload a video but the connection here isn't good enough.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Today we will again be at WARC for a roundtable discussion on Modern Migrations and African Diaspora. Then lunch followed by another roundtable discussion on Secondary Education in Senegal.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I know I said I wouldn’t be making another blog until our return to Dakar but, I find myself unable to sleep. We began our day with a bit of group reflection on our experience so far. I told the group that I felt a bit like one of the many piles of rubble you see on the streets of Dakar. I’m never really sure if a particular pile is the result of the ongoing construction or decay. But, until today, this ambiguity was playing only with my intellect. After walking among the many children in Pikine, I feel I have now begun to imbibe the spirit of Africa. I suspect I’m not the only one in our group getting little sleep tonight.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Our first week of studies has been very interesting. The Director of WARC is quite a gregarious person; always laughing, dancing and making sure all of our needs have been met. Most of our lectures have been about the culture, history and politics of Senegal and West Africa. I have been very surprised by the complexity of these issues but even more surprised by the always eloquent often poignant manner in which our presenters bring out bits of clearity from these surprisingly byzantine topics.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Last night they had and welcoming dinner for us with live music and lots of dancing. Believe it or not, I danced with the woman in this video. I think someone may have gotten a picture of us. If so, I will send it in a future post.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
I'm at the Logan International Airport waiting to board the plane. I should be in Dakar by tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I've posted this video of a Senegalese Drumming and Dance demonstration from our three days of Orientation.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
My story of Africa began when I was in third grade. Twenty-five cents would get me into the Saturday matinee where my favorite movies were about the adventures of Tarzan. I remember little about the actual plots. It was mostly the action scenes that captured my imagination. Whenever Tarzan would dive into the water, he was sure to have an encounter with a crocodile. After a few minute of underwater spins, Tarzan would pull out his knife and stab the crocodile and then move on to complete his adventure.
I remember even less of the white man’s encounters with the African people. My interests focused more on the elephants summoned by his distinctive call; and, of course, his primate sidekick, Cheetah. But, what I admired most was Tarzan’s ability to fly through the jungle swinging from vine to vine. Tarzan’s Africa was truly fantastic and I strove to recreate that world in whatever way I could.
I would tie ropes, sheets or whatever I could to whatever object I could to create my own jungle canopy from which I could swing into my own heroic adventures. What my sister remembers, however, is when I would take off my shirt and I wrapped her faux leopard skin coat around my waist then swing from branch to branch or sofa to chair.
Indeed, at age eight, I was an expert on Africa. These decades later, my French is weak and I know no Wolof but, should we go for a swim, I’m ready to take on the crocodiles.
For a bit of reality
You can also watch these interesting short videos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg (a TED lecture by Nigerian writer, Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, entitled “The Danger of the Single Story.”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-jSQD5FVxE (a dramatic enactment of a piece by Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, entitled “How Not To Write About Africa.”)
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
I just checked the CDC's list of recommended vaccines for Senegal and it seems to be a bit longer. I'll check with my doctor and get whatever she recommends.
Here's the CDC list:
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I was very lucky to receive a Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad Award that will take me to Senegal this summer. While I was very excited and honored to receive the award, I was also a bit disappointed that I would have to cancel my plans to travel to China with Mr. Rhee. So, maybe China will happen next summer. In the meantime, I have a lot of preparation to do before I leave for Senegal; including a three day orientation in Boston. I'll try to keep everyone up to date throughtout my great adventure in Senegal.