Hilary Brown - Senegal

November 17, 2009

“We watch you on TV.” This was the first thing my eight year old host sister said to me. At first I thought I had not understood her broken French. Then I discovered I was the first white person she had met. Next, the mother pointed to the fan in the room I sleep in with one of the two girls. “This fan is not good,” she said. “You need to tell your professor to buy you another one.” Seeing the fan worked, I assured her it was fine. I was then informed that two of the children sleeping in the living room did not have a fan therefore the father would take me to the city in a couple of days to buy them one. Later, while watching a TV show taking place in an airport I was told I need to make lots of money in the U.S. to bring back to Senegal and to be able to take the children back with me.

Since arriving in Sebikotane I have been in many situations such as these. At first, feeling extremely uncomfortable, I had no idea how to react. I then used the phrase inshallah which basically means it is in God’s hands. This caused everyone to laugh and start a whole new conversation in Wolof. However these experiences, especially those with my host family, have made me really think about how Americans and white people in general are viewed by others. They have also brought up many new questions related to poverty on a global level.

Hilary Brown