Returning Home

Alexander Taylor - Senegal


May 6, 2019

[image: Senegalese Outfit.jpg]

Note: Keep in mind I can only speak from my own experience. However, I
would like to make a blog post that would really challenge the “single
story” that has perpetuated when describing Senegal and the continent it
resides in.

Before embarking on my journey, the founder of Global Citizen Year, Abby Fal
ik, promised us as fellows that this “would not be the journey you want,
but will be the journey you need”. Now that I have returned home I feel no
phrase ring truer. Home is what you make it and family is whom you make it
with. Home is a state of mind. For me, my time in Senegal was “Teranga”,
the Wolof word for hospitality.

I left with bittersweet goodbyes to my host family. I came home to warm
embrace of my family and home. A few days later, I walked into the first US
grocery store I have entered into for 7 months, only to be astounded by the
amount of type, category, and classification of foods commodified and
placed on shelf after shelf. It was overwhelming! The “fresh air” grocery
smell re-entered into my olfactory senses. Bystanders walked around in
these giant carts, chatted audibly on cell phones, or were eating at a
restaurant conjoined to the the store. It was there and then, I first felt
that I had return to a culturally normalized decadence I still had not
become re-acclimated with.

I returned to products appearing larger than I remembered. The UV lamps
seem brighter than I recall. The white noise the TV and electronics make at
night sounding louder than before, complementing the silent hymn of the
dishwasher.

Despite these changes of perspective, I feel grateful to be reconnected
with my family before entering the next chapter my life. For those who
helped me have the opportunity for this journey and cannot tell you how
grateful I am to have it. The smile of my host mother, my family, and the
warmth for my community will be the heaviest of what I carry back home with
me.

Thank you for following me through my seven month journey! My time in
Senegal was a journey beyond what I can summarize in one post. I spent time
working at a traditional tailor shop and making boubous (traditional
Senegalese outfits). I later spent my time building a nursery school in my
village. I rowed a boat on Lake Tambacouda. I re-learned the power of
teaching through the incorporation arts and craft, alongside the game of
chess, at an elementary school for children with disabilities for
developing critical reasoning skills. To those who help provide me with the
opportunity to go, know that my experiences, friends, and the closeness I
still have with my host mother would not be possible without you.

[image: Returning Home.jpg]

Jerrejeff ak ba benen yoon Senegal,

Alexander


Alexander Taylor