A Week in North Carolina?
I spent the past week of my life in the village of Dindefelo, a small town right at the southernmost part of Senegal. Pressed right up against the Guinean border, Dindefello’s name literally translates to “beside a mountain” and the translation is entirely fitting. The week was great, as I got to reconnect with fellows around the country, and I got to see some of my closest friends from other regions. the bus ride was super long (16 hours!) but it was entirely worth it. It felt so nice to leave my home stay and experience a part of Senegal that I have never seen or even come close to seeing. We were able to go on hikes, travel to a waterfall by the village, and connect ourselves with nature in a general sense. We also talked about the commencement of the final training block, our Final Community Projects, and preparing for departure. I cannot believe, nor will I ever believe that I have already spent close to six months here. In some ways, I feel like I could live here for years. My community is wonderful, and I’m at a stage where I can finally talk and communicate and feel like a normal part of the area I live in. I have long accepted that I will never be Senegalese, as being an American is a part of my identity that I take pride in. I also feel that if I were to leave tomorrow, I would not be entirely against it. Being separated from my home for so long is difficult, and having two homes is even more difficult. What constitutes a home? In my eyes, an area or idea with which you share sentimental value, memories, or attachment is a home. Do I feel like this idea applies to my home in Senegal? Of course I do! I feel like, upon my return to the States, my experience here will remain with me indefinitely.
Back to the past week of my life. One thing about the mountainous region of Kedougou is that it is INCREDIBLY reminiscent of NC, especially the area of North Carolina that I will be living in for college. Ok, maybe the trees are a little different, and there are monkeys here, but I stand by my opinion. Being in the mountains, hiking and seeing waterfalls gave me a weird sense of deja vu (minus the monkeys.) While this made me homesick, and gave me a yearning for the future, it also brought my mind a little bit of peace. As described in my previous post, I have been having issues for the past month and seeing something so far removed yet so similar to my own home gave me a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively.) The mountains were very similar, but the waterfall was a unique experience. The misty water running down the shelved cliffs of the mountain was a view that made me wish I had brought a camera. Something about seeing a ~200-foot flume of water jetting down the side of a mountain is just so… beautiful. I guess, if there’s one thing to take away from this story, it’s that you should get your ass outside and appreciate the earth because you never know when those sights will no longer exist. Don’t let your time go to waste. Go outside. Breathe. Be active! It’s incredible some of the things you can experience by just walking around in your local forest with your eyes open and your mind set on focusing on the nature around you.