In Wolof, “How are you?” is said “Nanga def?” which literally means “Where are you?”. The usual response to this is “Mangi fi rekk.” which means, “I am here.” By saying “I am here,” you are saying that you are alive, and that is something to be grateful for. “I am here” and that in itself is a beautiful thing. I don’t know very much Wolof yet, but I’m already falling in love with the vibrance and energy of the language. To quote my language coach, Barker, “French is, for lack of a better word, sexy. But Wolof is a blast.” I’m excited for when it rolls off my tongue naturally and I’m able to use my language skills to build relationships with my host family and community in Senegal. But of course language skills aren’t learned overnight, it will take a lot of hard work. In the end, language is the key to building relationships, and building relationships with my family and community is the key to growth, learning, and understanding.
There are going to be a lot of challenges this next year. Learning the language, learning the culture, fitting in with my family and community, learning skills in my apprenticeship…ect. Even now I’m dealing with the challenge of leaving my loved ones this next year. There are times when I look at them and think “I am going to miss you so much.” It’s going to hurt to leave the ones I love for so long, but I remind myself of how important this next year is. Global Citizen Year is an opportunity of a lifetime. A program like none other to unlock potential, discover culture fluency, become proficient in a language, and forge relationships across cultural differences. This isn’t just a bridge year, its also a year of maturity and growth, challenge and discovery.
When I first started the college search and application process I was excited, but it felt so incomplete. College is where you get the necessary training and education for a career field, but why is it that I am expected to know what I want to do for a career at the age of 17? I want to travel, explore, and learn. I want to see the world in a way that will lend me a greater understanding of the people in it before I start making decisions about a career. So I started searching for a different path and came across Global Citizen Year. It was love at first sight, everything I wanted and more. Language, culture, leadership, and entrepreneurial training before living and working in a host community. It’s total immersion guided by professionals that help you get the most out of your experience. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be accepted into this program and to have met some of the professionals that make it happen.
I’m ready for the challenges and opportunities that await me in Senegal. I’m ready to let this next year be a transformative experience. As a personal goal, I hope to soak up every moment here at home and in Senegal. To appreciate what I have. After all, I am here, and that in itself is a beautiful thing.