Throughout the application process and my Summer Campaign, so many people told me that I would come back a completely different person. I would nod and politely smile at them but I never really believed it. I thought I would go to this other country, which I knew nothing about, learn a new language, maybe a few cultural dances, get some new clothes, eat weird things, and come home completely indifferent. To say I feel completely and utterly ignorant would be an understatement. I have learned more about myself in the past 2 months than I have in my entire 18 years of existence.
I got by in Dakar with the help of my friends, my support system. Being dropped off at site and saying goodbye to them made me realize how dependent I am on other people. I’d like to think that I am strong enough to stand on my own, that I could handle this on my own. But reality hit and I felt alone.
Looking at my surroundings in my first site, I realized something else. I found myself in a place I didn’t fit. But didn’t we get to give our input into where we would be living? The site was matched to what we wanted, right? Not exactly. Due to some personal connections, everyone told me that this site was for me. And I falsely agreed. Why, you ask? Because, once again, I was trying to make everyone else happy. Once again I forgot to think about what I wanted. And that was what they asked me. “What do you want?” And I couldn’t answer honestly. So I did something that I normally wouldn’t have. I asked for help, clearly and honestly. And, surprising to me, it came. Now I live in a town where I feel comfortable, work in a place that is constantly buzzing with activity, working with a friend, and living with a family that took me in with open arms.
Those are the major life changes but there are also minor ones too. Like how I’m not completely afraid of bugs anymore. Ok cockroaches freak me out but they’re gross no matter where you go. But the little ones I can handle, which, if you ask anyone who really knows me, that’s an accomplishment. I’ve stopped thinking about what I should do, or what I have to do, and starting thinking more about what I want to do. I’m a much less picky eater. Which you kind of have to be considering the options aren’t all that varied. However, I may never want to eat rice after this due to overload.
I’m beside myself thinking of how ignorant I was. But now is not the time to think of the past. Now is the time to look forward. Besides, I have met someone along this journey as well. Her name is Fama Siby. She is me. She is the new, better, 2.0 version of me. And I am very excited to get to know her.