Gus Ruchman

Through his participation with Seeds of Peace, an organization dedicated to giving youth the tools to resolve conflict around the world, Gus formed relationships with people on all sides of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict and as a result developed a passion for conflict resolution and international relations. Gus’ love of theater and music led him to write a rock opera over the course of his senior year. Writing both the book and the score, Gus eventually produced Madhouse, with his fellow students serving as the crew, cast, and band.


Are You Ready?

I am home! And I have a lot of stories to tell. If you (or your child, student, friend, etc.) are interested in a Global Citizen Year, you might want to watch the video below, a sort of teaser-trailer for my Senegal experience. Enjoy!

16 May, 2011

Xeex Sibbiru

The fight against malaria, as with AIDS and tuberculosis, is a multilateral war of attrition. Education of doctors and patients alike, accessibility of preventative measures, and medicines, tests, and infrastructures that comprise treatment systems are forming a defensive web against a disease with as many social as medical implications. Though there is a long way…

24 April, 2011

Cast of Characters

About two months ago I moved to Noflaye and a new family—a wonderful family—that, among a bit of Senegalese dance and other things, has taught me the true meaning of teranga. My living situation is now divided between to places: my family’s home and the Village de Tortues/Kër Mbonat Yi, a small but important sanctuary…

14 April, 2011

Drop By Drop, Child By Child

Polio has been eradicated in the United States and many other countries, but not in many developing countries.

13 April, 2011

A Proud American

Turn on your favorite news network. Whether you watch CNN, Fox, The Daily Show, or WalfTV, the images are largely the same. The world is falling apart at the seams, and anti-American sentiment seems as high as ever. Yet here in Senegal I have had an optimistic encounter with my national identity. I am always…

04 April, 2011

Strangers With Candy

It was 1:30 in the afternoon, and the sun was broiling the earth beneath my feet. Sweat ran down my face and began to soak through my shirt. I could smell the swarming heat. “Why are you laughing?” asked a bewildered co-worker as we walked through the streets of Sangalkam. “It is difficult to explain,”…

28 March, 2011

Songs From My Stomach

At the Senegal Fellows’ most recent monthly meet-up in Dakar we had an entertaining art competition in which we each tried to represent, through a medium of our choosing and 30 minutes of preparation, our feelings towards Senegalese cuisine. Johannes, a brilliant Fellow stationed in the Millennium Village Project in Leona, won for his unique…

25 March, 2011

Girl Talk

Before I start I would like to clear the air: no, I do not have a Senegalese girlfriend, nor a Senegalese wife, nor do I plan on getting married while I am here, nor do I plan on taking more than one wife. Why the litany? Every few days I have déjà vu. I meet…

18 March, 2011

Bridge work: Brunswick grad takes year off to go global in Senegal

I distinctly remember the afternoon last spring when I shocked my guidance counselor by marching into his office and announcing that I would not be attending university in the fall. I was opting instead, I told him, to join a young program called Global Citizen Year. That conversation seemed a long time ago as I…

17 March, 2011

The Longest Days, Chapter 5: “Seck and Senghor’s Excellent Adventure”

Previously: Contrary to several prior predictions, I survived the day of the Magal 2011. I learned about special rules for doctors and was overwhelmed in the best ways by a plunge into the Grand Mosque. It was almost time to go home: Monday, 1 day after Magal: The city had changed. In fact, it was…

16 March, 2011

The Longest Days, Chapter 4: “Journey to the Center of the Earth”

Previously: I became acquainted with our hot canvas tents dispersed across several homes of religious community leaders and made friends from many walks of life. I struggled to find a small patch of floor on which to sleep, but was enthralled by Touba’s unique aura. Energy mounted like a pre-Magal powder keg: [slidepress gallery=’journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth-part-2_gus’] Please…

09 March, 2011

The Longest Days, Chapter 3: “The Right Stuff”

Previously: Having all but annihilated our “schedule” the medical caravan arrived in Touba in the witching hours of the morning, allowing an initial encounter with the throbbing ambience and surreal beauty of the Grand Mosque. I rested with my new colleagues: [slidepress gallery=’chapter-3′] Note: Please scroll over the images for titles and captions. Saturday, 1…

02 March, 2011

The Longest Days, Chapter 2: “Waiting For Godot”

Previously: I prepared to travel to Touba, the center of Mauridism, in order to provide free medical support for the millions of people making pilgrimage, taking heed of the many warnings against a variety of dangers I might face there. I stood on the brink of the unknown: Friday, 2 days until Magal: I was…

24 February, 2011

The Longest Days, Chapter 1: “Great Expectations”

The Magal 2011 was perhaps my most thrilling, exhausting, and challenging experience in Senegal yet. At the end of January I traveled to Touba, the central holy city of Mauridism, where every year millions of pilgrims (Wikipedia says 1-2 million, but I was told 5+ million) celebrate the return of the founder of the Islamic sect to…

17 February, 2011

Show and Tell

[slidepress gallery=’gus-ruchman-photo-essay-4′] Note: Move your mouse over the photo to see the title and caption!

12 February, 2011

Under the Mango Tree

I had waited for this moment for over three months. Kaay nu waxtaan. Come, let’s chat. When I received the rather hazy details of my apprenticeship, I was told that I would be making “awareness” visits with community health workers in the greater rural area of Sangalkam. That was the first and the last time…

25 January, 2011

Trust Me, I’m A Doctor

Back in October I took an adventurous cab ride to the Clinique Madeleine, a medical facility near the seashore in downtown Dakar, to have lunch with two recent college graduates working for the World Food Program. As we discussed their new professional lives and the one into which I would soon be thrust they had…

07 January, 2011

“Love Thy Bucket” and Other Notes

I thought I might share 10 bits of advice and “wisdom” with any readers who may find themselves someday in a similar living situation.

28 December, 2010

There and Back Again

You did not think I would be doing this during my “freshman year” of university: Tey ci ngoon man dox naa fii ba Keur Massar maa fexe fekk “L’Hopital Traditionnel.” This afternoon I walked to Keur Massar so that I could try to find the “Hospital of Traditional Medicine.” Sori na de! Danga dof? It’s…

09 December, 2010

Tabaski: In Pictures

Tabaski celebration in pictures: [slidepress gallery=’gus-ruchman-3′] Note: Move your mouse over each photo to see the captions!

29 November, 2010

Echoes Past and Future

Dear Grandma and Grandpa, Don’t worry about me. I’m doing more than okay. I know that wherever you are in the limitless beyond you are finding a way to worry while you watch over the family, but you don’t have to. I think about you quite a bit. In fact, I think about you quite…

27 November, 2010

Hair! A Barbershop Blog

So, it was not quite a barbershop. It was more of a decrepit barber-shack on the side of the road, huddled among the other barely-standing, hand-built structures under which people house their livelihoods, selling fruit by the kilo and plastic bags full of sugar to saturate morning coffee and the grotesquely sweet third cup of…

12 November, 2010

Leaves on the Family Tree

For the fourth time this year, I am leaving my family. At the end of May, in a whirlpool of handshakes and diplomas, I parted ways with my extended high school family of teachers, mentors, fellow graduates, and yes, even freshmen. In mid-September I shared one final hug with my parents at La Guardia airport,…

01 November, 2010

Seeds of Doubt (and Peace)

I woke up buzzing. For several days I had been sniffling as I struggled to fight off a cold, but yesterday I opened my eyes and felt wholly refreshed and bold under the visage of adrenaline. I ran downstairs to remind my mother, “j’ai besoin d’aller à l’ecole—tey ci suba nun dinanu dem biro corp…

29 October, 2010

Wonder, and A Tale of Two Cities

I have never seen as much collective body heat joyously united with as many collective smiles as I did on Saturday night—or technically Sunday morning. After several hours of audience anticipation, Youssou N’Dour at last graced the stage around 2:30 am. The floor immediately flooded with fans elated to witness an intimate performance by perhaps the most…

19 October, 2010

Naka laa tudd? Call me Moustapha.

When I wake up in the morning the first sound I hear is the comforting hum of the fan, my indestructible line of defense against mosquitos and sweat baths at night, as long as the power is on. Next my ears tune to the roosters next door that act as the alarm clock I cannot…

16 October, 2010

Nanga def? Maangi fi rekk! (Some spellcheck unavailable)

Humidity greeted us before Anta did. Stepping onto the tarmac of Leopold Senghor Airport was exhilarating and liberating after what seemed like months in anxious transit in our sealed cabin of South African Air flight 914 en route to Johannesburg. However, we understood immediately that we were strangers in a strange land as airport officials…

04 October, 2010

“When idea and fate meet…”

John Wood is a confident presence, a role model for public speaking seminars. His dogged conviction and meticulous work ethic have allowed him to transform Room to Read, the non-profit NGO he started after leaving Microsoft, from a simple educational idea into a wildly successful global organization with a budget of tens of millions of…

01 October, 2010

The Guardian Rock

The Guardian Rock is rooted in the California earth, perched high above Petaluma, sitting reverent, immovable, and secure. A relatively short distance from the main campus of IONS, the home of our US Training Institute, the Guardian Rock marks a place of meditation removed from the noise and distraction of modern living, even in the…

21 September, 2010

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Gus Ruchman