September 16th, 2014
It has been a month since I left home in Malaysia and already so much has taken place. I want to share it all – families, training, failures, triumphs, conversations, mosquito bites, mangoes, inspirations, marriage proposals, tears, dances, quirky language teachers, baobabs et cetera – but I’m afraid I have no idea where to begin or how I will stop!
Two weeks ago, in one of the evening training sessions, the Senegal Cohort had to come up with our personal visions for the year. We had just gotten back from our heavy Senegalese lunches at home and were trying to deal with the afternoon heat – the general atmosphere in the room was justifiably sluggish. To get my brain going, I jotted down words that had been on my mind – “intention”, “grounding”, “freedom”, “spirituality.” It became clear to me how intrinsically these words relate to one another, bringing me to my vision:
“I am grounded in self and reality to be free in spirit and dreams.”
As I’ve pressed on with that in mind, here are some anecdotes I thought I’d share…
ON CULTURE SHOCK –
Everyday is a little journey through the “U Curve”.
I’m at the bottom of the curve (“Culture Shock”) when Senegalese heat is compounded with nausea from something I might have eaten, compounded with an old lady defiantly tugging on my clothes and pockets insisting I give her money, compounded with some other old folks laughing off the side as I fumble through my Wolof and struggle to keep my composure.
I’m moving up the curve (“Adjustment”) when the electricity is cut and I continue to play with my little siblings, realising I’m not the slightest bit flustered!
I hit the top of the curve again (“Honeymoon”) when I’m running home in the rain, laughing with my sisters through the pitch black streets of Ngaye Mekhé with our dinner baguettes from the bakery, soaked.
ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE –
I’m eighteen years-old, trying to deal with my overgrown fringe, and do not yet have the skills or knowledge to make that Nobel-Prize-worthy contribution to humanity. But, if the beginning of my journey is the processes of pushing my fringe back, building enthusiasm about life and learning to interact with the world while tightroping the fine line between naiveté and optimism, then I might just be off to a good start!
OTHER (arguably important) REALISATIONS –
Life is not a plain piece of paper on which the self is a dot moving from place to place in a linear fashion. Life is outwardly and inwardly infinite, all at once as grand as the universe and as intimate as a heartbeat.
I’ve always thought of myself as pretty rational and practical but every so often I laugh at myself, realising what a romantic I’ve become. I’m grateful for the opportunity and capacity to love, and send some appreciation to you for patiently following the hotchpotch of thoughts that are materialising here in the sanctuary of my mosquito net and foam mattress in Ngaye Mekhé, Thies, Senegal.