Gaya Morris

What matters to me most is consciousness: the awareness I have gained of worlds beyond my own, other vantage points from which to consider my life, and my role in the world and to act with honesty and integrity and move forward.

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A call from Sebi

Its 3 pm on Sunday and I’m in my usual spot behind the terracotta table in my mom’s gallery/showroom in the South End of Boston, dabbing at little tufts of oil paint on paper plates, breathing in those thick fumes of turpentine and liquin and…

19 August, 2010

“Hingham student reaches out to Senegal”

This article originally appeared in the Hingham Journal HERE After deciding to take off a “gap year” between high school and college last summer, Gaya Morris, a Hingham resident, recently returned from a stay in a rural village in Senegal as a participant in the…

29 June, 2010

Dear Hassane

***I wrote this blog a few weeks ago in the midst of that overly observant readjustment period and I sincerely hope some of the generalizations I have made aren’t offensive to anyone, because that’s really all they are – superficial generalizations in which you may…

10 June, 2010

Conclusions of many sorts

Its not the first time I’ve remarked how hellos are much more important than goodbyes for the Senegalese. There is no question that greetings are of the utmost importance – to shake the person’s hand and go through the usual series of inquiries about your…

06 May, 2010

A memory

Here is a blog post I meant to post a couple weeks ago but somehow never found the chance to. I guess now you could call it a memory. My alarm rings at quarter to seven (as I am unable to prevent it from doing…

06 May, 2010

Yama my shadow

Yama follows me absolutely everywhere. I might be in the school computer lab, out shopping at the épicerie, visiting a friend, or just out for a walk and someone will ask me ‘who’s the kid?’ I’ll suddenly remember she is there, clinging to my pinky…

19 April, 2010

Capstone Procrastination

Over the past week I’ve been coming up with all sorts of topics I could write blogs on instead of working on all the reflection essays we’ve been asked of us write, to conclude our experience and prepare for our reentry – all of them…

10 April, 2010

Responding to Kristof

It has been very exciting for me to read through Nicholas Kristof’s Teach for the World article in the New York Times and the various responses that have followed it considering that I am kind of doing exactly what he is proposing. Or almost, since…

22 March, 2010

Dear Prospective Fellow

Dear prospective Fellow, It’s getting late here in Sebikotane, Senegal – the chatter of children out in the schoolyard is starting to dwindle, the loudspeakers are about to break out with the evening call to prayer, and a cool breeze has finally started to trickle…

22 March, 2010

When I leave….

A major question that we fellows have been set out to answer ever since day one is: how much of a difference will we be able to make, if any at all, in each of our host communities and work places? For I think we…

15 March, 2010

Perceptions of race

The other day I happened to stop by Madame Diatta’s first grade class, and was welcomed in as a “scientific specimen” for the lesson she was in the process of completing. The lesson was an ‘initiation scientifique,’ and having sat in on a few of…

01 March, 2010

Donated clothing: the receiving end

Physical evidence of the connections between the lives of Americans and the lives of Africans is rare to come by here in Sebikotane, but when I do stumble across some random object originating back in the world I used to live in, it never fails…

17 February, 2010

Five blogs in one: apprenticeship updates

Last Saturday, the 15th of January, marked the halfway point of our seven-month stay in Senegal. Three and a half months down, three and a half to go. I find it hard to believe that we are already on the downward slope, when so many…

01 February, 2010

Apprenticeship Updates: 5 in 1

Last Saturday, the 15th of January, marked the halfway point of our seven-month stay in Senegal. Three and a half months down, three and a half to go. I find it hard to believe that we are already on the downward slope, when so many…

29 January, 2010

Musings on Islam

It is nine thirty on thursday evening and someone has just installed a new loudspeaker in Sebikotane, right above my bedroom. And currently blaring from this speaker, for the past half hour or so, is what seems to be a never ending chant of verses…

28 January, 2010

Out of the kitchen and into the classroom

Watching Mame Ami carefully trace the lines and curves that make up her name reminds me of me when I try to help cut onions without a cutting board, or clean rice, or help with laundry back at home. I am always amazed by the…

11 January, 2010

Introducing computers

Sitting here in the computer lab, having just given a lesson to a young woman, a friend of the school director, I am suddenly very thoughtful about computers. That’s how it is here – I came this morning without any specific plan, I opened the…

05 January, 2010

How do you help Sebikotane, Senegal?

This post by Gaya Morris has been cross-posted from the Current TV News Blog. When I first entered the backstreets of Sebikotane, a large town just east of Dakar in Senegal, Africa, I saw only a peaceful, culturally vibrant, almost idyllic community – people and…

28 December, 2009

First graders master the triangle

I am sitting in a CI (first grade) class right now, behind the teacher’s desk as an observer. This is usually where I end up in the mornings when I am at a loss of what to do. Today these six to eight-year-olds are learning…

19 December, 2009

Sheep instead of turkies

Earlier last week I believe I reached an important turning point in my homestay experience: I was allowed to do dishes! It has been a long month of sitting on the highest, softest chair and watching; having the choisest morsels of ceebujen into my corner…

19 December, 2009

A small dose of America

Off in search of a pot of jam (to add some fruit to my diet), some face wash (to remedy the annoying spots due to an excess of oil in Senegalese cooking that tend to provoke the question: did a mosquito bite your face?) and…

06 December, 2009

Dans la Salle Informatique….

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon here in Sebikotane and the inside of the ‘salle informatique’ (computer lab) at l’école Sebiroute is like an oven. There is a slight breeze through the door that opens into the large sandy space around which the separate classroom…

23 November, 2009

La journée mondiale du diabète

My host family’s house here in Sebikotane is made up of three separate buildings enclosing an open concrete-floored space shaded by a single fruit tree (never seen this particular fruit before) and hanging laundry; it is usually empty except for me, my notebook, my nalgene,…

17 November, 2009

Sant wa? The importance of names in Senegal

Its pretty likely that upon arrival as a guest or even a visitor in a Senegalese home, you will be given a new name. The head of the household, usually the most elderly woman, will probably name you after someone very dear to her, or…

08 November, 2009

Sebikotan Neexna

Earlier today as I sat on a stool just outside the entrance to the kitchen, here in my new home in Sebikotane, sifting rice, I thought back on our arrival yesterday that already felt so long ago. Sifting rice is a good thinking activity. You…

08 November, 2009

What is photography and why?

Yesterday afternoon I had a very troublesome discussion with my host brother Amadou about photography. After being in Dakar for about two weeks without taking out my camera, I have only recently started to photograph, trying to do it discreetly while  just sitting around, taking…

27 October, 2009

A typical evening chez nous…. + spagetti!

To follow up on last week’s blog post, I feel obliged to share a few basil-related updates. Firstly, it turns out that the basil is also an essential ingredient of the tea that my host mother brews daily to assuage her headaches. Its a mix…

27 October, 2009

Mel ak Tapha nungi toog ci ker ga….

…Ibou xaritu tapha new na. The translation of the above phrases would be: Mel and Tapha are sitting in the house; Ibou, Tapha’s friend, has arrived. This is a direct excerpt from one of the first dialogues in my Wolof textbook. During my daily three-hour…

21 October, 2009

Basil in Senegal?!!

This evening while helping one of my host mothers cook dinner, I made a very unexpected discovery. Tonight’s meal was grilled chicken, which in Senegal means chicken that has been cooked in a very oily sauce, then deep friend in pure oil, and then grilled….

19 October, 2009

Saturday Evening

Saturday evening might have been my lowest low and I say that with some ambivalence in conscience of the fact that I still have six months to go and the fact that it is always too easy to oversimplify things in retrospect, soften past pains…

15 October, 2009

laptop computers and blueberries

Sitting on the roof balcony of my new home, the call to prayer rings out loud and strong. Wispy clouds scatter the dark sky pinkened slightly by the lightsbelow. The shape of a bat darts overhead every once in a while. I write by the…

08 October, 2009

First day in my new home!

Bonjour! I find myself now in a cyber not too far from my new home in Mermoz, a neighborhood of Dakar across the VDN highway from the Baobab language school in SICAP baobab. Amongst the usual street noises through the open door I can hear…

06 October, 2009

Familiar First Impressions

(Here is a journal entry i wrote yesterday morning. The “quartier” we are in is in fact called “SICAP rue 10.” I am able to post this blog thanks to the amazing persistence of Ananda who managed to find a internet connection at about three…

03 October, 2009

A Speech!

Here is a copy of the speech I wrote for the Global Citizen Year reception and “fellow send-off” in the Bay area, last Tuesday, September 29th. Despite some rather chilly weather and a power outage, spirits ran high and I felt so honored to have…

03 October, 2009

Inspiring Stories

At the risk of sounding cliche, I would just like to say that the past few days have been some of the most inspiring and stimulating of my life. From our vantage point up here in the hills of the Intitute of Noetic Sciences in…

27 September, 2009

A few days ago = a thousand miles, tears, laughs and thoughts ago

An excerpt from my moleskin entitled On the plane to California: Finally. Life feels like it has not been lived for the past week. Only one thing on my mind, guiding my every action: this departure. It felt/feels like a point of no return and…

22 September, 2009

Seeds at the Farmer’s Market

I am writing on the train, or on the “T” as we like to call it here in Boston, rushing off to work (I am a hostess at an Italian restaurant in Cambridge) after a wonderful morning at the Hingham Farmer’s market on behalf of…

08 September, 2009

Many, Many Faces: a fundraising art project!

As you may already have heard, each GCY fellow has committed to fundraise a minimum of 2000 dollars before our departure. We have been writing letters, emails, talking to friends and family and some fellows have even hosted events in their home communities. The idea…

05 September, 2009

Down to earth

So I’m not really sure why, but for some reason traveling always puts me in the mood for writing – airplanes, cars, trains. I’m on an airplane right now, about to take off. Maybe its the feeling of movement underfoot, or the wide open spaces…

25 August, 2009

Inside a bag of peanuts

Earlier today I was sitting the car wondering what on earth I was going to write for my first blog post, what little piece of myself I should toss out there into cyber space, when I opened a packet of dry roasted peanuts. It was…

10 August, 2009

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Gaya Morris