The sun was kind today. Making the commute to our afternoon session, I realize a few new assets to my intuition: knowing when to cross the street, how to greet the people I pass, where to find the mango man. As I enter the office I feel air conditioning evaporate the sweat on my face and take a seat at the smooth round-table, usually busy with mangoes and water bottles and laptops. The other 13 people in my cohort trickle in, joining in an amicable silence to escape the noise that floods the streets of Dakar. We sit.
I’ve come to appreciate this time with my cohort – especially today. Today I see clearly the unique energy that each person contributes to our dynamic. I see how it works: how our sessions rise, swell, and dissolve into the bits of insight that we each carry home with us. Today everyone talks about lunch. Food is a huge talking point among the fellows, because most of the time we’re not sure what we’re eating – and we all miss chocolate.
“Guys, my Ceebu Jen was actually so good today,”
An overlap of agreements sound. We’ve reached a consensus: lunch was good, the ceeb was good. As we all nod our heads in an enthusiastic and naïve “yeah, our families really came through today”, Aminata chimes in.
“The Ceebu Jen wasn’t different. The Ceebu Jen doesn’t change – it is you that has changed.”
We all look at each other in our shared “aha” moment to laugh at our naïvety, and turn back to Aminata, realizing the weight of what she just said. She nods her head and shrugs like she usually does when she shares potent, strong perspective without realizing her impact on us. Everytime she speaks her presence commands active attention; we all love hearing what she has to say. Her comment has shifted the tone of the session, now, and the room inflates with laughter and deep sighs. This is the bit of insight we carry with us today.
As we leave the office we agree that it is a good day to admire Senegal’s coast. I take a mental snapshot of our time at Mermoz beach: the sun setting subtly while we run from an aggressive tide. Allie and Ruby can’t deny the temptation of swimming any longer, and they run into the sea in their clothes. We laugh, and I realize that I am okay. We are in Senegal and things are going to be okay.
I know now that change sneaks up on you. In living 8 months ahead, looking forward to the person I will become – I missed the fact that right now, in this very moment, I really like Ceebu Jen. I know now that it won’t always be disorienting to step outside. One day in the near future I will call this place a home – and I see glimpses of it now. The waves look as beautiful as the mountains in North Carolina. I have a cohort and a team of leaders to whine, laugh, and share silence with – and today, the sun was kind.