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Brooke Donner

Brooke is passionate about planet earth and everything on it. She is involved in building vegetable and herb gardens in local public schools, has played competitive soccer for 10 years, and was the editor-in-chief of her high school's newspaper. Brooke enjoys backpacking, playing with her pup, and laughing until she cries. Her goals for the year are to offer as much as she receives and to make "yes" the most common word in her vocabulary. One of Brooke's favorite quotes is from The Office's Michael Scott: "Everyone said to Vincent Van Gogh, 'You can't be a great painter, you only have one ear.' And you know what he said? 'I can't hear you.'"


Eight months in four minutes

November 1, 2016 A sanguine overview of my bridge year in Senegal. For a slightly more honest and raw account, look back at my previous blogs.  Peace only. 

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Water: a photo essay

March 29, 2016

Here’s a look at how we use water around my host family’s compound in Kédougou, Senegal.    My neighbor’s well was our primary source of water until it and most other wells in the neighborhood dried up in late February.    I’ve been getting my drinking water from this well pump since I arrived in...

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Dear current and future high school students

March 15, 2016

Dear current and future high school students, There will come a time, for most of you, when you apply to college. You’ll flip through the Fiske Guide, Google photos of campuses, and join Facebook groups full of other applicants just like you. You’ll make a list with three sections— reach, match, and safety— and a...

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Embracing all aspects

March 3, 2016

My life here in Senegal has been full of extremes— extreme moments, people, and emotions— each battling to pull me over to their end of the spectrum.   When I ride my bike through town, people often yell “toubab, okan kado”— “white person, offer me a gift”— leaving me feeling a bit ostracized and agitated....

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Who do you want to become?

January 12, 2016

After receiving answers like “teacher,” “nurse,” and “soldier,” Mr. Sall turned to me and asked, “What do you want to become in the future?” As I looked out at the classroom full of 13 year old students, my mind flickered to the list of college majors I’ve been poring over, diligently noting which pre-requisite and...

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Thankful to know

November 25, 2015

Every year on Thanksgiving, in between backyard games of spud and plates piled high with mashed potatoes and strawberry mush pie, my family passes around a composition book. Its cover is bound in a paper grocery bag and adorned in doodles, and at the top it reads “Thankful Book” in my mom’s block print. The...

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The Pink Mirror

October 24, 2015

In the Kedougou region of Senegal, in the neighborhood of Lawol Tamba in Kedougou City, in my hut in my host family’s compound, hangs a pink mirror. It’s small, no bigger than an ordinary paperback book, and it hangs at just the right height that if I turn towards it as I walk out of...

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Empathy: singing and dancing in holes

September 18, 2015

It happened immediately. As soon as I stepped outside of the gated parking lot of the airport in Dakar, a young boy approached me. He held out his hand with his palm facing up toward the cloudless sky of a hot Senegalese summer morning. In his other hand he carried a tin can that rattled...

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Push and Pull

September 5, 2015

My eyes focused on my feet, concentrating on each step to ensure a safe landing onto the road below me. There was dry sand in some places and thick mud in others. Cracks, puddles, stones and broken cinderblocks presented themselves as obstacles to my first outing on my first day in Dakar. Every so often...

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Ready together

August 27, 2015

Last night we danced. Senegalese pop music bounced off the trunks of centuries-old redwood trees as we encircled a campfire and attempted to follow the lead of our dance instructor Christian, a fellow Senegal Fellow from Germany (I’m still not sure why he knew the routine, but he sure knew it). Our feet moved quickly...

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