Clara Sekowski

Despite attending three different high schools in three years, Clara graduated a year early and took the lead in creating several internationally focused clubs and organizations. Clara was the founder and president of the World Health and Medicine Club, the Red Cross Club, the Model United Nations Club, as well as the Face Aids and WorldLink Youth chapters at her high school. These clubs, as well as her internship with Leadership Initiatives, sparked her interest in international development. In addition to being an accomplished fencer, Clara is an avid reader, writer and photographer.


Lost and Found

Since my sister warmed up to me several months ago, I’ve noticed some changes. My host-mother always used to act apologetic for the existence of Ndeye Fama, and it embarrassed me. She would say that Ndeye Fama is ugly, and crazy, and stupid as she swept the floor in front of her. It made me…

26 April, 2011

Toubaab, Redeemed

My second day in Ross-Bethio, I tagged along on a USAID mosquito net distribution project. Towards the end of our rounds, we sat under a canopy of a house on the border of the village, speaking to the village chief. I was completely exhausted and dehydrated and couldn’t drink any of the water they offered…

25 April, 2011

Petite Souris

A couple months ago, I thought I had a really good idea. At the maternity ward, I was watching the sage femme, Mariama, work hours after everyone had gone home to copy in the patient log-in information by hand into three giant USAID booklets. I asked her if she had to do it every year,…

04 April, 2011

Tick Tock

My first couple weeks in Senegal, I woke up at exactly seven o’clock and I didn’t know why. I hadn’t set my alarm, and I certainly wasn’t the type to wake up without one. On a Monday, I woke up late. My host-mother explained to me that, every morning at seven am., my host-sister Deyfama…

04 April, 2011

Places To Go, People To See

As a kid, I used to do this thing where I’d get lost on purpose. I remember bagging up my Cheerios in a Ziploc along with some water and looking down at my shoes until I turned 30 corners. When I looked up, if I knew where I was, I would look down and keep…

08 March, 2011

The Overnight

Once or twice a week, I stay overnight at the maternity ward with the sage femme, waiting for expectant mothers. It’s heavy and cramped, and there aren’t any mosquito nets to cover us from the beasts that plague the halls at sunlight. I am wary of a coming storm of numbness where I begin to…

25 February, 2011

Understanding my sister

I’ve been an only child my whole life, so sometimes it’s hard to understand what goes on in a sibling kind of relationship in the US, and especially here. Especially when last week my family tried to tell me that my sister was stupid. I repeated, “Stupid?” “No,” they shook their heads, “more than that.”…

31 January, 2011

Snippets of Senegal

Day 1: Before I settled into my apprenticeship, I took a tour of Ross Bethio with one of my advisors. When we  walked into one of the rooms of the elementary school, sixty or so ten-year olds stood up and chimed “Bonjour Madame Prof” in relative unison. Hmm, I thought. This was not the apprenticeship…

03 January, 2011

What do you work for?

I went to the santé first thing to ask for permission to be dismissed from work so that I could go break ground on the community garden my advisor and I had been working on creating. We dug and sifted and sweated for three whole hours before he looked up and said “Jusqu’a demain” (until…

14 December, 2010

Becoming Ndeye Bator

The first day I got my Wolof name, I wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in my pocket. Everyone asked for it, and even if it was in consecutive conversation, I had to look at the paper to remember the strange sounds that defined me. For three days I peeked…

13 December, 2010

Knowing the Difference

Even in the U.S. I was aware of how many aid organizations had irrelevant missions, or did more harm than good, so I went into this wanting to observe only and come back with enough research to make an actual difference in the way people see things back at home, you know, real things. Therefore,…

06 December, 2010

My First Report

The clinic in Ross Bethio is made up of two buildings. The first is used, and the second is not. Why? Because there are only three doctors. Imagine all the different jobs at a hospital- anesthesiologist, nurse, doctor, surgeon, secretary, janitor, etc. The doctors must be all of those things, all the time. I usually…

01 December, 2010

Darwin’s White Moth

I am Darwin’s white moth against a forest of soot-covered trees, and I am evolving. Individualism is a strangely defined term, and as I learn three new languages, more and more definitions become difficult to understand. Los Angeles has a tendency to idealize individualism, with an extreme focus on breeding the independent self. To that I…

12 November, 2010

Working Hard or Hardly Working

My second day here, I was pushed onto the lap of a woman who sat in the front seat of a neon green ambulance. I watched the bumpy drive through the spiderweb of a cracked window, and the seat vibrated so violently that my ears tickled. We drove for about an hour, and it was…

11 November, 2010


The thing I remember most about my first day in Senegal was that I had to sneeze the entire time. Alright. So. Rewind to me walking up to my new home, leaving a trail of sweat, friends, and three Senegalese men who are dragging my bags behind me. They open the front door to my…

27 October, 2010

My first post

I want so badly to release all of my current thoughts and ideas and emotions in ink like veins on this page but I know that tomorrow, at this rate, this and all of today will seem juvenile and I will be embarrassed at how young I seem. Which is how I usually feel.  I…

21 September, 2010

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Clara Sekowski