Claire Amsden



In Senegal, taking photos is called taking souvenirs. I can’t tell you how many times I asked my Senegalese friends and family to let me take a souvenir of them during my last two weeks there. (My photo count is telling: I had 400-something photos at…

02 May, 2013

Precious Moments

This is a journal entry that morphed into a blog with some additions and editing. I like it because it shows how important the family integration part of this experience is to me. Because I didn’t decide to do this to “save the world” or…

07 March, 2013

An Ugly Perspective on Beauty

I walk into the small beauty boutique with my sister and as she starts to bargain with the storekeeper for better prices my mind begins to wander. I look around, and I start comparing this store to beauty shops back home. I’m not talking about…

27 February, 2013


My soul is a tapestry – the threads are all of my experiences and memories. As the pattern takes shape my personality is shown. I’ve been using a lot more Senegalese threads recently; their textures and colors are different and it’s changing the way I’m…

03 January, 2013

A day in the life of Astou Ndao

As I gradually make my way from my dreams to consciousness I become aware of a noise. I realize it’s my phone telling me it’s 6 AM. Ugh. Time to get the day started. I stay in bed a little longer, listening to the sounds of the…

05 December, 2012

The Domino Effect

Sometimes you have to get rid of your inhibitions and dance like no one is watching. That’s not just a corny saying, I mean that literally. Sometimes, when the TV show Dakar Ne Dort Pas (Dakar Doesn’t Sleep) is filming on the street in front…

27 November, 2012


I believe that there are many worlds in this universe. Each person’s experiences and perspective create a personal world that only they can fully understand. Today there are over 7 billion of these personal worlds. And of course, there is the world in full, the…

24 September, 2012


Privilege, happenstance, good parenting, and community have all led me to Global Citizen Year. First, I have had the privilege to live in the United States, giving me access to resources and benefits that many people in our world will never experience. Without this, Global…

10 July, 2012

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Claire Amsden