I have been very late with uploading blogs so I want to firstly apologize to those who have been waiting for an update from me. So much has happened between August and now that I myself do know how to decipher the different, completely opposite , emotions that sometimes intertwine at the same moment. I am finally settled into my host family, apprenticeship, and community but I still have a long way to go and a lot more learning to do.
Affection is something Senegalese people show best. And well, I am lacking on that aspect. When an adult walks into the house, you stop whatever you are doing, come out from any corner you are at the moment, and embrace them with the warmest hug– regardless of how many times that person walks through the same door. I personally find this aspect of the culture very endearing because more than it showing affection, it is also a sign of respect. I find myself wanting to be able to let loose and race up to visitors like my siblings do but I haven’t quiet gotten there yet so I succumb to a simple handshake and “Asalamu Aleikum” meaning “Peace be unto you.”
I have the pleasure of apprenticing in my community pre-school interacting with bright five year olds. One of my students who right before the long vacation (July-August) was running around with the other students her age suddenly is paralyzed, unable to walk, nor speak. The first day she uttered a word in class, everybody including her classmates jubilated. The truth is, every time she was spoken to, you can see the words right at the tip of her tongue she just did not trust her voice enough to let it out.
Like my student, I want to be able to not only trust myself but also the people around me enough to not create boundaries for myself because I now there are people right behind me cheering me on every step of the way. The hardest part is taking that first step. Once you are there, the rest will be history. One thing that I have realized from my short but yet long three months stay in Senegal is you just have to trust, let go, and tae the leap of faith and there will definitely be people right behind you cheering every step of the way.