Naomi Wright

Naomi is an avid ultimate frisbee player, amateur photographer, and spoken word artist. She is also an activist - when students from three area high schools became frustrated with their respective drama departments, Naomi assisted in the creation of an independent student-run theater company and acted in its production of The Laramie Project.


Senegal in Syllables

Over the past months, I’ve occasionally jotted down little haikus in my journal. Perhaps you’ll get a different perspective on my life in Senegal from these mental musings. I have drunk friendship, Brown-olive, thick with sweetness, From a glass teacup ————————————————– Sneezing and smiles: The same in every language. Ah-choo! Ah-choo! Eeeee! ————————————————– Beans make…

03 May, 2011

Malaria, Know More

During some of my first weeks in Senegal, when I was living in Dakar, my four-year-old host sister didn’t come down for breakfast one morning. In response to my worried inquiries, her mother shrugged and nonchalantly indicated that the girl was sick, “Elle est malade, c’est le paludisme.” Malaria. I was shocked. Though I was…

25 April, 2011

Fatim and Nafi (Help) Cook Lunch

Over the last six months, I’ve become well acquainted with the national dish of Senegal, “Ceebujen”. When I have a free morning, I help the women of my household cook the fish, rice, and vegetable dish for lunch. In this video, Nafi, another GCY Fellow stationed in the same village as me, help her mother…

18 April, 2011

Open Your Ice

My family in Senegal supplies the surrounding community—the village of Leona, about 1,000 residents—with ice during the hot months from April to November. It’s not the family’s main source of income; we only make 100CFA ($0.20) per block of ice. In fact, we probably wouldn’t sell ice at all, but we’re the only family in…

06 April, 2011

On the Road

Every morning I finish breakfast by 8:15 and change into my running clothes: a baggy t-shirt and spandex capris. My attire rides the line between cultural appropriateness and physical comfort (my knees must be covered yet I live in the hottest region in Senegal, where even early in the morning, the heat begins to waver…

05 April, 2011

Brave New World

I’ve read many books over these past few months, including Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Madeleine Balchan, another GCY Fellow, had read the same book in high school, the following is an excerpt from a discussion we had about the parallels between the book and our GCY experience. Naomi: Brave New World is set in…

24 March, 2011

Vegetarian’s Dilemma

Among other things, I gave up vegetarianism when I made the decision to spend a bridge year in Senegal—or so I thought. Factory farming, my chief objection to meat in the States, isn’t practiced in Senegal and I didn’t want to be disrespectful to my host family’s culture or hard work to put expensive meat…

01 March, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution

In recent weeks, I’ve watched as people my age took to the streets of Cairo to uphold the idea of liberty. It’s made me wonder, would the youth of America take such radical action in the face of similar injustice— would they even notice the injustice in the first place? I come from a generation…

18 February, 2011

Portrait of an Artist

After I’d landed in Dakar, I slowly found myself craving modes of self-expression.

09 February, 2011

Glass Half Full

As I approach this day, the monumental half-way point of my Global Citizen Year, I can’t help feeling like Keats’ Endymion, for though there are “many and many a verse I hope to write, I must be near the middle of my story.” Senegal will be home for only three and a half more months;…

20 January, 2011


The morning was exactly as it always is, nothing unexpected, nothing disquieting. But that is exactly it: I feel completely comfortable with my family, in my home in Leona, Senegal.

11 January, 2011

Development, Up Close and Personal

To say the least, the past weeks have been a crash course in the intricacies of international development.

09 January, 2011

A Healthy Dose of Realism

“The work we do is hard. If it were easy, it would be done already.” –John Wood I heard this statement way back when, in San Francisco, from Room to Read founder, John Wood. He was referencing the efforts of his organization to expand education opportunities in developing countries. As I lay in bed today,…

28 December, 2010

Life in Leona

“So… what exactly have you been doing in Senegal?” I’ve heard this question posed in various ways by my parents, teachers, friends. I’ve tried to articulate it several times, and nothing has really done justice to my experience thus far as a Global Citizen Year fellow. So, here’s my answer: a mash up of my…

13 December, 2010

Bissap Revelations

I am freshly showered—out of a bucket—and my Senegalese mother is waiting for me: we are going to the fields. Sun streaks through mosquito net, making lace on the mosaic tile floor. “Fatima Jow!” My host mom’s voice booms my newly-acquired Senegalese name. I shout Yaay! the Wolof word for mother, poking my head around…

06 December, 2010

Along for the Ride

What the heck am I doing here? Thinking two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, I raised my eyebrows at the car attendant gesturing animatedly, ushering me into the cave-dark of the canopied truck. I confusedly crawled in on all-fours. Sitting: knees nearly to chest, splay-legged, passenger in front wedged between,…

30 November, 2010


Have you ever watched the stars rise? The sunrise, sunsets, oh! Everybody’s watched them. But the stars? A mournfully beautiful practice. And so ancient! Those That Came Before stared at these same stars; the points of light might be dead for all I know, burnt to the blackness of sky, their memory-light still hurtling, hurtling: a…

11 November, 2010

Change in Routine

I wanted to write a little summation of my time here in the big city, especially because it’s likely my access to the internet will be quite limited for the next month. I’ve spent the last few hours trying to mock up an outline, but my mind-voice keeps giggle-whispering, I leave Dakar in four days……

29 October, 2010

Feeling the Flow

There is a point when matter is so cold that all molecular motion ceases completely: Absolute Zero. For the last four years of my life, I’ve been in crisp control of my brain, keeping it in that exact state of ultimate stillness. Don’t misunderstand me, I have felt feelings and thought thoughts. However, each was…

26 October, 2010

All That Glitters

In French, the word for trash is ordure: the remains of a destroyed or broken up something, now worthless and fit only for disposal. To contradict my previous post, the last four days have left me feeling, well, trashed. As I lay stewing in a pool of sweat this morning, trying to will the power…

09 October, 2010

Complimentary Contradictions

Even at nine in the morning it’s 75°C, so I welcomed the realization that the shower’s “hot” knob didn’t mean there was hot water. Nevertheless, its coldness shocked me when I raised the nozzle to my face. I breathed in, sharply. For whatever reason, it was in that moment that I understood what fifteen hours…

04 October, 2010

Perfect Stranger

Having been challenged to find the story of one of the estimated 15,000 people living on the streets of San Francisco as part of “Five Dollar Day,” I chose to sit down next to James. When I saw him hunched against a scraggly tree on the corner of Seventh and Market Street the only things…

29 September, 2010

Who am I?

At 4:46 PM on Monday, September 20th, I sat down with the intent to answer that question. Lounging in the welcome shade of  Petaluma oak trees, I struggled to find even a reference point for where to begin. Should I look to my past? My circumstances up till now—people I’ve known, things I’ve experienced, places…

21 September, 2010

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Naomi Wright