The “W” Curve and Life in Laala Land

Wyatt Foster - Senegal


September 17, 2017

One of the first things you learn at Global Launch is the idea of the W curve. A wavy line that roughly resembles a W is shown a projector and the GCY staff tries to make it clear that in the beginning you will feel great, the top of the curve, aka the honeymoon phase. Then you’ll dip into the 2nd phase of culture shock but slowly you’ll rise into adaptation to your new environment and so on. When I first heard this analogy I assumed that it was a curve for the 8 months as a whole but if I learned on thing during my first week of home stay it’s that this curve is something that occurs daily and that instead of a curve it’s more like a squiggly line zigging and zagging in every direction, something many fellows have used to describe their gap years in the past. 

Many days I start off low. After waking up in the same town for 18 years it’s not easy to wake up in a new bed after dreaming of home. My low points are not so much culture shock as they are an unexpected amount of homesickness. So when I pull of my mosquito net and get up to go wash up and (warning: the next line may be a little nasty for some readers) dump my nighttime bathroom bucket, that had sat in the corner of my room, into the bathroom outside, I usually am feeling a little uneasy about the day ahead. But then I see my host mom smile at me and my host sister who’s already cooking lunch early in the morning (OK… not that early… I’m a late sleeper…) I start to feel a bit better. 

As the day goes on in my small compound in Pambal, I spend a lot of time sitting under our big tree. I’d estimate I sit under that tree about 8 hours a day. I peel beans, I talk to my family, I eat, and I peel more beans (elaks in Laala) Going from Global Launch to In Country Launch and especially going from such a busy westerner life style to sitting under a tree for 8 hours is not an easy transition. But I am adjusting and this forced time of reflection in aiding me in realizing why I feel low when I do and how I can push through it. 

My host family is wonderful. I’m extremely lucky to be able to speak to my family in french. I’ve been able to have real and deep conversations with them and I feel I’ve already made a solid connection with them. Along with connections within my family and my new community, it’s been a great support system of mine to be placed near other GCY fellows. Being just a 15 minute walk away from people who bring me such comfort when I really need it is something I'm very grateful for. 

So while I have experienced many different parts of the W curve, or really the squiggly line that is my life in Senegal, I know that over time my line will become straighter and I will adapt to the constant heat, the massive amount of goats, the language, the smells, and yes, the in-room pee bucket. 

Much love to everyone!! I miss you all and I hope that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing there, you’re full of jamm (peace). 

Here is the address if you feel the need to send me a letter 🙂

Global Citizen Year

Wyatt Foster

BP16446 Dakar

Senegal 10700 


Love,

Wyatt

Inline image 1

Fudinuk! (Don't worry dad I won't get a real tattoo here)

Inline image 2

Getting the fudinuk! (Me waa ka fudinuk) 

Wyatt Foster