Reshaping my Classroom

Tiffany Hurtado - Senegal


October 28, 2017

It’s already been about eight weeks that I have been here in Senegal. And I’ve truly been blessed with a great environment, which includes a loving host-family ready to help me, a cohort ready to support me, and a family back home from whom I receive all the love and support. Nevertheless, it’s also been an intense few weeks. Trying to understand what is going on around me, trying to grasp the customs and the culture, while simultaneously trying to be consciously aware of the effects of my actions. Up until now, It’s been an experience like no other. One whereby there aren’t enough words to do it justice. I’m constantly being reshaped by my experiences, the type of experiences which constantly make you question.

One significant factor that is defining my experience is the language. I’m learning a whole new language, one I had zero knowledge on, and it’s been both amazing and frustrating. On the contrary, to going to class for a set number of hours to learn the language I feel as if I am in the class 24/7. Which has been pretty amazing, because every moment of the day I feel as if I’m learning something new. Whether it is related to the language or just learning more about the culture and community, I’m living in. My community and more specifically my family is my teacher. They are always asking me if I know or understand what they are saying to me, or if remember what a certain object is called in Wolof. When they see me they always repeat the sentences or words I frequently say, and they’re always curious to know what new things learned in language class. 

But more importantly, they took me in as one of there own. A newborn clueless about her surroundings, unable to fully understand all the what, when, where and hows. Unsure of how I would communicate basic needs I was constantly in contact with people who understood. People who guided me into the community, to teach me the what, when, where and hows. Helping me get used to my surroundings, teaching me what to say and how to act and most importantly who make me feel comfortable. Even though I always feel like I’m just spitting out words when I speak, they reassure me that they understood what I was saying. At every glance, I giggle, reminding myself always to be grateful for them. To be grateful for the little conversations we have, all the laughs we have, and all the “I miss you”s  that we have shared. 

Needless to say, I'm truly happy I’m here.

Tiffany Hurtado