At last, My Own Room

Baseer Khan - Senegal


October 1, 2019

Growing up with 4 siblings usually comes with the annoying part of having to share a room. Especially, when you’re the youngest of them all. Residential school makes it worse when you have to share a smaller room with more people. After 6 weeks of living out of a suticase, I have finally been gifted the joy of having a room to myself.

Mboro, a coastal, semi-urban town of approximately 30,000 people is where I’m writing this blog from. Proximity to the sea as well as rich natural resources in the area has made this town develop a fishing and mining industry. It’s now week 3 here in Mboro; three weeks of growth, challenges and a lot of unconditional love given by the citizens of Mboro. But between all of this, the one thing that has helped me navigate the challenges but also celebrate my successes has been my room.
The first week here was challenging to say the least. The day would start with a 20 mintue revision of morning greetings in Wolof in the safety of my room (of course, right in front of my fan to combat the blistering heat), just so that I could avoid embarrassing myself first thing in the morning in front of my new family. The rest of the day was spent in the ‘stretch zone’, living outside my room, trying to desperately communicate with my family and navigate in the community with my tiny bit of Wolof vocabulary, and of course dealing with the heat that makes you take 3 showers a day.
During the first couple of weeks, the end of the day when I could finally go to my room and be alone felt like a blessing, although I would be carrying a headache from the tiring process of trying to speak Wolof all day (aka repeating the same 3 words I know). Somehow, these moments alone at the end of the day were the hardest of them all (and still kind of are but in a different way). Journalling, reflecting and reminiscing, I would end up feeling all the emotions of the day that hadn’t hit me yet, thus making myself doubt the reasons why I chose to take this difficult journey of growth and learning in Senegal.
To think that my perspective of my host community would change so much in three weeks, is not something that I would have foreseen. Today, my room is not my only safe space anymore. My entire house has extended to become part of my safe space. It’s weird thinking that 3 weeks here has made me forget about a lot of the apprehensions and doubts I had coming into my host family. I guess the messier my room became over the past few weeks, the more I eased into the environment. But just like everything, it’s not all positives. There are still times where the Senegalese heat is too much to bear, the constant speaking in Wolof a migraine worthy activity, and therefore the lack of many meaningful connections with people a pain that even social media cannot fix.
All of this, in just three weeks. Only 10% of my time here in Mboro, Senegal has passed but for some reason I’m already thinking about how hard it might be to leave this place in nearly 6 months’ time. That all depends on what I choose to make of them, so for now, I’m going to try and live more in the moment and live the experience rather than thinking about the future(except college apps ofcourse).

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My room(cleaned up a bit… usually a lot messier)

Baseer Khan