It’s been a while

Manuel Quesada Nylen - Senegal


January 11, 2019

Haven’t written a blog post since before the holidays, which is at least
two months. Reading some of the blogs of the Fellow Roundup is not
something I do quite often but today I read Ecuador fellow Melinda’s recent
post where she talked about the best way she can describe her experience to
people asking, is that it’s extreme highs and extreme lows. First of all,
shoutout Melinda, she’s the homie. Second of all, she couldn’t be more
right. For a while I was impeccable here, enjoying the highs like there was
nothing else to do in the world. I was having fun every single day despite
not understanding things happening around me or words spoken to me, and
that fun translated into a happiness for me. It meant that there were
things to pay attention to, to figure out, people to listen to and ask
questions. Then after a while, whenever we got together for catches or
learning seminars, I found myself plateuing. I didn’t want to be around
Fellows, I’d rather be in my homestay. Okay, fine, that’s cool. This gap
year I’m letting myself feel the way I feel. I took advantage of the time
with them to share and hear their stories, but every ounce of me was
itching to get back to Taiba Ndiaye. After a plateau, one can either
continue their positive increase or shoot down, and after every plateau it
was consistent for me. Usually it would shoot up after getting back to my
homestay, and then something small would throw me into a downward descent,
and I mean ANYTHING. A man on the bus pinching my skin and telling me that
I want to be a black man after introducing myself to him with my Senegalese
name. Boys in my village making jokes about women and expecting me to join
in. Calling back home during the holidays to be passed around like a hot
potato saying hi hello small talk to every family member. Having to explain
to every other person on the street that no, I am not French nor do I speak
the language. Most times these things won’t faze me, I’ll have a nice laugh
or start a conversation with someone. Alas, not everything is sunshine and
rainbows, so there must be times where these occurrences to get to me and
when they do, the existential crises that follow are like no other. There
are no words to describe the way I feel in these moments, so I go back to
quoting the homie Melinda by saying that they’re extreme. The cause is
extreme, the effect on me is extreme, so my experience is nothing less than
completely transformative. I said the other day that I’m more scared to go
back home than I was coming here. Thats the whole truth, honest Injun. I
still got time though.

Manuel Quesada Nylen