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Tess Langan

As an accomplished writer, Tess served as Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper and contributed to her local newspaper on several occasions. She also served as a Peer Leader, where she taught a class of 15 freshman students, and as a tutor to students with mental disabilities.


Nous Sommes Ensemble

May 25, 2011

I left my little blue wallet with my two credit cards, half of my monthly stipend, a hundred dollar travelers check that my visiting mom had posed there, my emergency contact information, and the scribbled passwords for both of my credit cards in a local boutique when I went to buy a little sack of...

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Senegal in Numbers

May 11, 2011

1) Bottle of shampoo that I brought with me and made last for 7 months, economizing by occasionally tilling my hair into neat corn rows and forgoing shampooing. 1) Thin beach towel that has traveled with me from Dakar to Saint Louis to Mbour, from cool showers, to colder showers, to beautiful beaches. We took...

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The Girl at The Glass

May 2, 2011

After living here for six months, however, I no longer find myself comparing life in America to life in Senegal...Instead, I find myself comparing Tess American to Tess Senegalese.

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Unplanned Parenthood

March 28, 2011

I came to Senegal with high hopes of embarking out on my own and weaning myself off the comfortable interdependence of my family. There were my dreams and then, there was the reality. I am now an eighteen –year old, self-defined feminist …with a two-year child. Alaine and I walk hand in hand to school...

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The Men in Africa Not Doing That

March 21, 2011

What gives me hope is that the load Senegalese women carry is unable to lower their regal carriage or proud chins.

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Facts of Life

February 16, 2011

This piece was featured in the Verona-Cedar Grove Times on April 28, 2011.  Read the article here. “DAKAR, Senegal — Thousands of children in Senegal are forced to beg on the streets under the pretext that they are receiving religious instruction, Human Rights Watch said in a report Thursday that urged the government to crack down...

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Tata Therese and the Pint-Sized Perpetrators

January 13, 2011

I was left alone with more than seventy of them. Seventy small, squirming Senegalese schoolchildren. My co-teacher, and most of the other teachers at the preschool where I work had departed for Dakar to buy Christmas gifts for their students. That left me, Tata Therese, one other teacher and a crippled bodyguard facing four classes...

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To Be Here is Enough

November 29, 2010

Today I met a new host cousin, who asked me what I was doing here in Senegal. It is a question I am well-versed in answering on American soil– but my gift-wrapped why-gap-year-spiel only comes in English. For a foggy moment it seemed that there was no answer and maybe I should just pack up...

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Ruminations on a Rainy Day

October 26, 2010

Most days in Senegal the sun shines so brightly that the white pavement blinds me on the way to class. Most days my host mother encourages me to eat, eat, to invite friends over for lunch, for the night. Most days I greet strangers on the street and hear their joyful rejoinder in a chorus...

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Expect the Unexpected

October 12, 2010

Before I left for Senegal I got advice from some of last year’s fellows.  Of the various conversations I had, one piece of advice stuck and tumbled through my mind like laundry:  have no expectations. For the most part I think I have honored this counsel, remaining unruffled by kamikaze-like drivers,  “bucket” baths (kind of...

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A Simple Start

October 3, 2010

Growing up I had a purple bedroom and my own closet and toy chest. I had a book shelf and a duvet cover and a sally the camel toy that got to sleep snuggled with me.  In New York City when I went to visit my grandmother, the streets were dotted with the homeless. Grammy...

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My introduction

September 21, 2010

When I explained to people in my hometown of Verona, New Jersey that I was taking a bridge year they usually fell into one of two camps. Either they would agree with my friend Rebecca who wrote on my facebook wall “I’m so freaking excited for you!! And by that I mean I’m so incredibly...

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