Cherish the small things in your life.

Qianran Yang - Senegal


September 13, 2018

2018.9.13

Today is the fifth day that I stayed in my Senegal host family. And yes, I’m in Senegal. This summer, instead of directly going to university, I decided to take a gap year. So I applied for “Global Citizen Year”; I got accepted; I made my decision.

So here I am

Senegal.

The first few days in my host family has truly been horrible. I was traumatized before I even arrived; I was wiping my eyes balls out while I was sitting in the van that was heading to our host family. At that point I had zero knowledge in French and zero knowledge in Wolof (which is a local language that people speak in Senegal); I was so confused all the time; I don’t know what was going on; I don’t understand anything; I don’t know how should I behave and there are flies EVERYWHERE.

But people say everything takes time, which is true. After four days, I’m still not used to the flies and the desert, bucket shower and eating on the ground. But that’s okay, because I start to discover the good things and that truly made my life better and easier.

As time goes by, I start to realize that I’ve been focusing too much on the disappointed things, so that I ignored many moments that are worth to appreciate in my life.

Like my host family. They are definitely some of those sweetest people on earth.

I remember the first night when I arrived. Since it’s the first night, so there is no drinkable water for me (fellows from GCY has to use a water filter to filtrate the drinkable water). I mean I can totally survive without water for one night and I didn’t show any need for the water. But my host brother literally walked 15 minutes to the market at 11 o’clock in the evening just to buy me a bottle of mineral water.

For the past few days, since I don’t speak single French and my Wolof is close to nothing. So my host family members are always the one putting in extra effort and try to talk to me in English. Even though they only know few words in English.

My host brother is one month younger than me, but he is always the one who tries to take care of me. I remembered that night when the whole family was sitting in the living room and watching TV. He tried to use Google translate and ask me what is my favorite Chinese food, after I told him it is hotpot he started to ask me the way to make hotpot. Because of the language barrier it took him way more extra effort to understand what was I saying. Then I just saw him typed something in Google translate, he showed me the phone. It says “If I buy ingredients, you can cook it the our home.” That was the first time that I felt like home in the country that I thought I would never visit in my life.

Those are such tiny parts of my day. But it is the tiny part that compose the valuable memory, There are also so many normal things that I would never pay attention to back home is becoming one of those part that I appreciate the most right now. Like simply a hot shower (yes that’s right I’ve been taking cold shower everyday because we only have a bucket shower), or the air conditioner in the living room. Living in this village which locates in the middle of the desert really makes me start to cherish many things that I’ve never noticed before.

But sometimes those small things are exactly the reason of the happiness.

Qianran Yang