Michaela Kobsa Mark

Michaela is a true internationalist. She spent the greater part of her childhood moving back and forth between Germany and America and traveling through Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa. She also served as Vice President and Publicity Director for her high school's Central Asia Institute Club, an organization which raises money to build schools and improve the lives of females in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She is also semi-obsessed with cinematography.


Nancy’s Skin

“If you could, would you be white?” I asked my grandmother, Nancy. I like getting reactions out of her and I was expecting a very strong reproach. “Wow de” she answered, her eyes on me. The affirmative makes my jaw drop in shock. “Quoi?!” Why? “Look at this..” I think she is picking at invisible…

24 March, 2011

First Weeks in Dakar

A post written in October… Had someone given me the chance to return to California today, I may have taken the person up on her or his offer. There were a few things I could depend on today: the fact that I would be going to school, the intensive heat, and my body’s capability of…

24 March, 2011

Old Posts

A post written in October… “Life is not in the pulse, but in the heart” “La vie n’est pas dans le poulse, mais dans le Coeur” Today, I was nervous for the first time since I began my GCY experience. This feeling of uncertainty hit me as I sat at a table in ACI Baobab…

23 March, 2011


Aïsha, a little girl who attends the school across the street, is not part of my family, but as she lives in the next village over she eats lunch with us on school days. She is a reticent pair of open eyes that stares unabashedly and eerily never seems to blink. Sometimes I try to…

23 March, 2011


A post written in October… As my first month’s supply of malaria medication comes to an end, I am becoming aware that I have been living in Senegal for almost a month. I’ve been living in Senegal for a month, and I still cannot make up my mind how this change has warped my perception…

23 March, 2011

Senegalese Soccer

A week ago, I was selling crème glaces and frozen ginger juices for my work at a soccer tournament. The first game had the local girls team, Mama Nguedj, playing against a team from Mbour. What struck me is that during the game the girls were laughing. They seemed to be sacrificing competitiveness for enjoyment….

22 March, 2011

Yekini is coming home

It is about 7:30 at night, and the street that is normally lit by the lights of shops and open house doors is now only visible because of the feeble streetlights. I walk past yet another closed boutique. Through the open rafters in the house next door I see the inhabitants fused to the furniture,…

22 March, 2011

Crème Glace

I came to Senegal ready to be open to it and love it. And in coming with this attitude, I have come across such pristine and simple beauty. I am enthralled by the liquid ruby crème glace making, the geometric shapes of the grains of rice that I sift my hands through, the way the…

23 February, 2011

Sounds from a Senegalese Church

The Joal choir meets two to three times a week to sing with the tam tams and electric guitar. I used to be part of the choir, however as it conflicts with the time I have to be at my apprenticeship I had to give it up. However, I can always enjoy the lovely music…

22 February, 2011

Why a gap year?

Note: I was going to talk about how today I brutally scaled, beheaded, and disemboweled a fish, as part of today’s Cebu Djin preparation; however, I felt that as I have not done an adequate job in posting up blogs, I owed GCY fellows, parents, and supporters an explanation of where exactly I have been…

02 February, 2011

View From the Roof

Senegal- a country with a 97% Muslim nation. Prayers are five times a day- pre-dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and dark. The Calls to Prayer sound from mosques all over Dakar, and they are so frequent that sometimes I don’t notice that there is one going on- until the silence resounds. I’m leaving Dakar for Joal-Fadiouth…

02 November, 2010

A Brief Historette

Michaela means ‘Walk with the Lord’, but for now I prefer to walk alone and keep an open mind. Grace was suggested by my grandmother-by handing me a virtue she hoped it would transcend into my nature. These names are my own, but they’re also young- just eighteen years old with little knowledge of their…

28 September, 2010


A fundamental part of traveling is the breaking down of stereotypes. In six days, that process will begin. My junior year in high school, we were reading Wuthering Heights, and my English teacher taught me to look at texts through different lenses. Reading a passage from a feminist viewpoint offered such a different analysis than…

26 September, 2010

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Michaela Kobsa Mark