I’m sure you’re familiar with that part after a theater performance where the cast is acknowledging the people that made the production possible. They already took their final bow and the time has come to share the spotlight before the audience goes home. As the curtains of my Global Citizen Year are drawn, I’d like to make this blog post a gesture towards those working behind the scenes whom without which, the show could not have gone on. Bear with me, there are a lot of you, so without further ado:

To my brothers, Sam and Patrick, thank you for holding down the fort. My head could be, and has been, all over the place but you two make it feel like nothing has changed. To my sister, Emily, thank you for being in the same time zone as me, and therefore on a similar sleeping and Facebook schedule. When I needed comfort, you three brought me home. TO THE ‘RENTS, growing up in the Mannix household was loud and sarcastic and somewhat makeshift, not far from the Weasley’s in Harry Potter, but I realize now that I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You guys sure did a bang up job raising us kids and I’m sorry it took me so long to realize how hard you work to do so. I love you all to bits.

To my Summer Campaign supporters, endless thank you’s for donating to my fundraiser. It felt so good to hit that $2,500 mark and I could not have reached that goal without your generosity. You guys rock.

To Sidy, my language tutor – You encouraged me to keep trying no matter how frustrated I got with nonsensical French pronunciation and memorizing the dialogues you prepared. I remember one class where motivation was especially low and you said it was okay to call it quits for the day and try again tomorrow. Thank you for listening to my needs as a student and passing along your tri-lingual skills. You are everything a teacher should be, and the closest thing I had to a host dad.

To my girl, Mane! Thank you for taking me under your wing and teaching me how to sew. I can only dream of acquiring the same level of tolerance that you have. With all the mistakes I made this year, whether it be going off the pen-line you drew for me or hemming the wrong side, you kept throwing fabric at me. Thank you for your endless patience with me especially when I lost my patience with others. To Obliye, Mayt, and Cher, my coworkers – You made work more enjoyable. Thank you for being familiar faces and for your friendship.

To the Kebe’s – you are incredible people. You are forgiving, patient, welcoming, open-minded, encouraging, kind‰Û_ everything and anything a Fellow could ever want in a host family. I didn’t always understand what you were saying to each other but love and laughter are unspoken languages. Thank you for making room for me around the bowl at meals, for teaching me how to dance, for letting me get away with occasionally wearing shorts around the house, and for being so unapologetically yourselves. I wear my lam xalis with pride. I also want to give a special thank you to sama yaay (my mom) T’Anta Ndheye – You are one of the busiest, friendliest, most down to earth kick ass women I know. It was a privilege getting to know you. To all my little siblings (there are like 20 of you) – I put you on my shoulders, but you carried me through the year. Thank you for your smiles, for your hugs, for holding my hand and for being my only source of tenderness in a place where there is little of the sort. You made me feel like part of the family, and I will always be your Absa. Namenala toropp!!

That being said, I want to acknowledge those whose names I never learned, those that will never know how significant our seemingly small interaction was to me. This means you – the 10 year old girl walking home from karate class that asked where I was coming from and where I lived, but never for my hair or water bottle; you – the woman that saw the overwhelming amount of taxi drivers surrounding me and rushed over to help me get a fairly priced bus ticket; to you – the guy who ran over to me with a napkin when he saw the mango I was eating dripping all over my hand; to those who would laugh with me rather than at me or said a simple, “Welcome to Senegal.” Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the people I could remember every time I got catcalled walking down the street, or whenever some little twerp kids called me a “toubab.” You make me want to be that person for someone else.

To Abby, Aparna, Esther, Katie, PeeBee, and the Oakland Staff – I had so much fun at Pre-Departure and Re-Entry. I the seminars were “very valuable” and the food was actually pretty tasty! Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for periodically checking up on me during the year. Thank you for answering all the emails you must have gotten from my mom. Thank you for all your hard work in the States, and especially for hiring my team leaders‰Û_

Macoumba, Hassana, and Diouga – Thank you for putting up with our antics this year. I can’t imagine being on call basically all the time for 18 kids scattered up and down the country, but you do it without breaking a sweat. Macoumba – Thank you for picking up care packages for me, for bringing me Gatorade when I was sick and for being a voice of reason. Hassana – Thank you for being so gracious and helpful when my mom visited, I know it’s really hard for you to keep calm in stressful situations but you did it and for that, I am proud of you. Jokes aside, thank you for making me feel like there is never a need to panic (and Kedougou is the coolest place). Diouga – I always looked forward to getting a big hug and “Gracie Grace!” from you each month during site visits, not to mention the 5000CFA credit stipend you brought as well. Thank you for going to the hospital with me so many times in October, for getting us croissants or Biskrem and water on road trips around Grande Cote, for being a mix of a mother, a sister, and a friend all in one. You were on top of things when that seemed impossible to do. I can’t thank the three of you enough for always being there. You get what you give, and you three deserve the world. Merci beaucoup.

Speaking of people that deserve the world, last but not least, I would like to thank the Senegal Cohort: Oumy Kebe (sama doom la), Aisha Goumballa, Oumy Kebe, Madicke Diop, Khady Makane Diop, Khady Gnagna Mboup, Khady Sarr, Moustapha Siby, Mane Ndiaye, Daba Beisse, Ami Ndaw, Coumba Fall Niane, Aissatou Manga, PathÌ© Faye, Nafissatou Sene, Ndombour Ndiaye, and Mosaan Ndong. I’ll keep this thank you brief – YOW DUNGEEN RAFET. DEREJEF NDAXTE LEP YA GUNNA AY. NAMENALA TOROPP. KAAY SETSI MAN CI PHILLY AMNA PLACE. DEGGUNGA?!

ÌÛ la prochaine, Insh’Allah.