I’m going to start of this blog with a little flash back to my life exactly a year ago from now.
The peak of the IB term 3 – commonly known as the hardest of all, where students would sleep an average of 4 hours a night and be working the rest of their days away to achieve the best possible grades to get into their dream colleges. My life was basically identical to that described above.
Flash forward a year and I’m in Senegal, completely isolated from the pressure of the IB, yet still having a bit of stress due to college apps season. However, the biggest change that I’ve noticed is with the way I think.
There have been many days here that I’ve spent longing to be in college with my friends, eating at huge dining halls with a wide variety of foods and talking to people in ENGLISH which is very rare here. Yet, today as I ate a simple dinner of Senegalese sautéed onions with bread(it’s really good!!) with my family, I suddenly had a realization that led me to write this blog.
I’m here. In Senegal. Doing something that I never imagined myself doing. I was living part of a dream that I’ve been dreaming since the age of 13 of traveling to different places and living in different countries. And all this was triggered by just one word that is said a hundred times everyday here in Senegal – "Alhumdulillah"
"Alhumdulillah" is actually not even a Wolof or French word, it’s Arabic. It means ‘praise be to God’ or simply ‘Thanks God’.
In Senegal, this word is used whenever you greet someone, to thank God for keeping us healthy, safe and happy. It is said after every meal(which is when the idea for this blog was triggered) to thank God for providing us with food on our plates. It is even said when hearing good news.
Although being Muslim, I’ve known this word for pretty much my entire life, today I really appreciated the meaning and message behind it. At a time where I felt like many things aren’t going right in my daily life, it helped me realize just how much I have to be grateful for today. An opportunity as amazing as this, as well as countless other things that I’ve been blessed with throughout my life. It’s very easy to get caught in the moment and forget about just how much you as a person have accomplished in your life. Our society teaches us only to look forward and strive for perfection but I believe looking back and reflecting on the growth that has been made is the most important.
Living the ‘Senegalese Way’ has not been an easy adjustment for me, but in many ways, it’s been just the sort of challenge and period of growth I’ve needed at this crucial stage of my life. Although I don’t know how my future is going to look, I am confident that this experience here is something I will look back at quite often just to ground myself and be grateful for what I have
I know many of the people reading this blog will likely be in a position where they have stress and pressure from their job/school, but I’d encourage you to take some time and reflect on where you are. The peace and tranquility achieved from just a little bit of gratitude can really make a great difference in your everyday life.
Attached are some pictures of the beautiful scenes in Mboro, Senegal!