Dancing in the African Rain

Emma Anderson - Senegal

July 11, 2012

My name is Emma Anderson and my favorite color is blue. Blue like the color my left knee turned after I collided with another player during my last soccer match of high school and tore my ACL and meniscus and fractured my femur the second day of November 2011. Blue like the ocean in Senegal, Africa where I will be spending the 2012/2013 school year instead of going straight to college. Blue like the blanket I curled around when I was born in my house the first day of June 1994 in Ashland, Oregon. Blue like my eyes as they leaked unbearable, salty tears while I opened rejection letter after rejection letter from my dream colleges as I sat immobile a week after getting surgery on my broken knee in March 2011. Blue like my dreams for the future: bright and as expansive as the cloudless sky.

However, I am not going to Senegal because the sky has always been blue for me. I have not always known where I want to go or what I want to do with my life after high school, but as my wise little sister said recently, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain”. I’ve heard it rains down in Africa… (cue the old Toto song), and though I can’t dance on my knee just yet, I’m thrilled to discover what I’ll be experiencing this November as I meet my new host family and settle into a meaningful apprenticeship, what I’ll be crying with joy about this March as I prepare to say goodbye (in French!) to my Senegalese home, and how I will feel next June on my 19th birthday. A little bit wiser, perhaps? Or at least a little bit tanner? If these lofty goals fail, I’m wholeheartedly positive that after this year abroad I will certainly be a little bit more prepared to be the change I want to see in the world.

Special thanks to my parents and my siblings for your love, to my family and friends for your support, and to all the many teachers, coaches, and people in my life who have inspired me to take this incredible leap of faith. I love you all!

Emma Anderson