Sitting in the airplane and looking out the window waiting to land in Dakar, Senegal, was when it really hit me; I was actually going to Senegal, Africa! This was something that I have always talked and dreamed about. After talking about it all summer and getting ready for this new experience, I was already here and there was no turning back. Right when I got off the plane I felt this sudden hot and sticky breeze, something I have never felt before. We got our luggage and headed to the bus that took us to the hotel we would be staying at for the next two nights. The bus ride to the hotel was silent. Every single person was just taking it all in, that this is where we will be living for the next five weeks, this is what we all will now call HOME.
It was time to meet our new families. I did not know what to expect, I walked over to my new sister, she shook my hand no words were exchanged, and then helped me with my bags. We walked to the taxi that would be taking us to my new home. When I arrived at my house they showed me my room, told me to unpack then come downstairs for dinner. I couldn’t unpack, I sat on my bed for about an hour and looked around my room thinking, “what am I doing here?” After a while I stood up and walked down stairs and went into the living room. I sat there and no one was talking. After a few hours of sitting and being stared at I finally got up the nerve to say something, they didn’t really understand what I was saying and I had no clue what they were saying, but even with the language barrier we began to understand one another.
Well three weeks have flown by and it was time for our site visits. After a thirteen hour bus ride I got off the bus and and saw where I would be living for the next six months. there were so many emotions going on. I had no idea what to expect, “will they like me? what if i hate it here? what if they hate me?” was all that was going through my mind. Right when I saw my mom I knew that I didn’t need to be worried about any of these things. My mom welcomed me with a hug and told me to sit down. the first thing she said to me was your name is Fatu, after giving me my new senegalese name she taught me how to to say some stuff in Pulaar. After about an hour of trying to have a conversation my mom took me to the market, she showed me around and introduced me to some of her friends.
After spending a week in Mako it was time to head back to Dakar for the rest of ICO, it was bitter sweet leaving, I was so excited to see all the other fellows but sad to leave my new family. Now knowing what my family is like I am so excited to go back to mako for the next six months, I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.