Ndomor, My New Home

Emma Peterson - Senegal


September 13, 2019

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                         -Me and a few of my family members-

As the school year came to an end, I started thinking seriously
about how to prepare for my year in Senegal. What do you bring to a place that
you can hardly even imagine? So I put together a bag filled with exactly 50.0
lbs of things I thought I’d need, and left Wisconsin for an eight month long
adventure.

And here I am in the place I couldn’t really picture three
weeks ago. After two weeks of getting to know the global cohort in sunny
Stanford, California and then the Senegal cohort in Thies, I have finally
arrived in my host community Ndomor. The minute I arrived at my door, my host mom
greeted me with a hug and my youngest brother Mohammed greeted me with a sticky
handshake courtesy of a pile of green candy he found at the neighbor’s. My yaay
(mom) gave me my new Senegalese name right—Fatou Bess Diop.

At Global Citizen Year we talk a lot about how outside your
comfort zone is the only place you will learn and grow, and this week has
provided many opportunities for learning and growth. Right now, it seems like I
know almost none of the things I need to know to survive in Senegal, but
looking back, I know so much more than I did just last week! I can greet people
I meet in the street in Wolof, I can help make attaya, I can take a taxi to
language class three villages away, I can eat ceebu jeen. Right now, all th
accomplishments seem small and not nearly enough, but it really is so much
compared to where I was just days ago.

So this week as I try to adapt to my new home and new
family, I am embracing the uncomfortable and learning so much. The next seven
months seem so daunting, but I know that with enough effort and patience, I
will learn Wolof, I will connect with my host family, make new friends, and it
will be a great year!

Emma Peterson