The Domino Effect

Claire Amsden - Senegal


November 27, 2012

Sometimes you have to get rid of your inhibitions and dance like no one is watching. That’s not just a corny saying, I mean that literally. Sometimes, when the TV show Dakar Ne Dort Pas (Dakar Doesn’t Sleep) is filming on the street in front of your homestay family’s house, you have to get up out of your chair, run into the middle of the circle, and dance to the beat of the sabar drums like there aren’t thousands of Senegalese watching you on TV.

Once you take the first risk, the rest is easy. I couldn’t help but return to middle to dance again and again and again. It’s a domino effect. Once risk taken leads to another, which leads to another and another.

This moment of making a complete fool out of myself was the perfect transition for the end of In-Country Orientation in Dakar to the beginning of my site placement in Ndianda. I’m jumping in headfirst without looking back. At times it’s been a little over-whelming, but then I just remember the warmth and laughter I received from letting go and making a fool out of myself, and I take yet another risk.

Most recently, I took a risk by showing my host sister a vulnerable side. I opened up and let her know that I had been feeling really homesick. Suddenly I had not one but four sisters in my room and we were all looking through my photo album of people back home. They told me it’s totally normal to feel this way, and they were very insistent that they were my family now.

This doesn’t mean that my homesickness has gone, but I gained a sense that I might belong here with the Ndao family after all.

And now, I’m looking forward to six more months of risk taking in Ndianda, Senegal, which all started with the risk I took in applying to Global Citizen Year. It’s not going to be 100% easy, 100% fun, or 100% comfortable. But I know that as long as I continue to risk it’s going to be 100% worth it.

Claire Amsden