My Path in Senegal
Senegal Capstone Video: [vc_video link=’https://youtu.be/t3wIFR8EnrU’]
There are some places in the world that, once visited, go straight to your heart and never leave. For me, Senegal is such a place.
Upon returning to the States, I have grappled with how to share my personal experience in Senegal. Peoples’ predetermined notions of how my experience should have been makes this constant conflict even harder.
I am not sure I will ever grasp how I went from a near-hatred of the country, to holding it as dear to my heart as I do now. The infamous ‘W-curve,’ it must be.
From day one in Senegal, I was stunned by the richness of the environment around me. It overloaded my senses with a pure, fixated intensity of sights, smells, tastes, and sounds. What I have found is that photos and videos are as close as I can get to properly illustrating my time in-country, for others and myself. Seeing the joyous faces of my community back in my town, Tivaouane, and the Senegal cohort remind me that this year was meant to happen. It reminds me of what this year did for me, and now what it should do for others.
Senegal shaped my mind, secured my identity, influenced my beliefs, and made me who I am.
I only began recording videos in February — six months into my trip. I wish I had started earlier to accurately capture my visible growth throughout the year, but it was already hard enough to choose which clips to share and which to cut. Throughout the production of the video, I had to consciously consider what I wanted to share of my experience and with whom I want to share this. How could I deliver to my audience the overload of senses that I had everyday?
Turns out, it is impossible.
But this video did bring forth a slew of new questions from the viewers. Questions that they could not have asked nor that I could not have answered without the visual prompting. So, in another way, the video accomplished its goal: it challenged those predetermined notions and replaced them with curiosity.
The video also elicited something I kept hidden from both myself and others and did not want to admit to upon the reflection of my experience. It is that I spent 18 years of my life, the pre-Senegal years, seeing the world in black and white — right and wrong — and when immersed in the animated country that is Senegal, I began to experience the world around me in vivid technicolor. There is not just one path in this world; no path is wrong.
For this, I am forever in debt to Senegal. A piece of me is always there.
Follow the path best suited for you.
a.k.a. Khadijahtou Cheikh Samb