Katie Dodge



Three days into living with my host family in Senegal, I had my first weekly language class, where Tiffany—a then stranger who later became my saving grace—made the comment: “I need more time to process these past two days than my entire life”. The more time I spend back home, the more I realize the…

01 June, 2018


French And lack thereof      I. Do. Not. Speak. French. Sometimes (all the time) I feel like I need a sign on my forehead declaring this to the well-meaning people of Senegal who see my lack of melanin and immediately launch into the official national language, a remnant that still binds the colonizer and…

27 February, 2018

Sin bi Jalo

Sin bi Jalo January 20, 2018     I first met Sin bi Jalo on my third day in Senegal. His job was to help me, along with the five other fellows that made up our language group, learn to communicate with our host family and community in Wolof. He has since become one of…

07 February, 2018

The Worst Decision

Before I could even process what had happened, the pain hit me. It was burning, blinding, reducing me to a helpless, moaning lump. The one part of my brain that was still sentient tried to get help, to get water, to do something—yet I was unable to move in any direction for lack of vision….

18 November, 2017

Sama Kër

There is one paved road that runs through Thienaba. Shops and stands line either side, hoping to entice weary travellers with roasted peanuts or watermelon. Motorcycles weave around the trucks and taxis carrying goods and people from town to town.  Every now and then a rickety bus will pull over and cram on another person…

23 September, 2017

51 Things to do While Waiting for the Plane to Dakar

1.     Go pee. 2.     While peeing, think about how you won’t be using toilet paper for the next eight months. 3.     Try to calm the rising panic in your stomach as you imagine your life without toilet paper. 4.     Go for a walk around the terminal. 5.     Charge your phone. 6.     Second-guess every decision you have…

07 September, 2017

August 27th

Hello! I wanted to do a quick explanation before I started the actual blog post. I’m currently at Stanford, where I will be for the next two days until I fly to Dakar. I wrote most of this on the plane from Seattle to San Francisco, but because I take forever to articulate my words,…

31 August, 2017

Embracing the Unexpected

A year ago I had my life figured out.  Well, not my life, but certainly the next five years. The summer before my senior year of high school, I spent a lot of time thinking about the future, mentally planning what would happen after I received my diploma: I would go to some Ivy League…

15 August, 2017

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Katie Dodge