This is Senegal.

As I listen to my favourite song, and sit on my rooftop contemplating the endless sky coloured by the sun almost like on fire by all its energy around it, I decided to write my first post for you all.

It’s almost been three weeks since I left Stanford, on an cold but promising morning, with only one destination: Dakar, Senegal.

The place that not many hear about, and only a few decide to come for vacations, the place where people greet you with such passion and genuine interest that a smile instantaneously comes out, the place where no matter how in hurry everyone is, there will always be time for a “assalamu alaikum” (peace be upon you, meaning hello), the place where a taste of the west African Middle Eastern, and French culture get together to form one, the place where most of the men in the society are still allowed to have more than one wife, the place where time goes smoothly fine, with no worry to pass as quickly. All that and more is what this nation has shown me for these past three weeks.

It’s hard to convey everything about Senegal in a blog post, but this is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a real journey, full of challenges to overcome, full of different foods to try, full stories to hear about, and most importantly full of people to learn from. It’s a time to celebrate, to wake up and step out of my comfort zone to go out and and see how the world looks like from the inside, from the communities, from the local families, from the kids playing on the streets, it is finally the time I was waiting for. The time to explore the unexplored and to expect the unexpected.

I’ll be here for the next 6 months, living with a local family, on a rural village near Mboro, at the grande cote of Senegal. I’ll also be working on local school with little kids, learning from them, just letting it be, just enjoying my time with them. In fact, I’m like one of them, my french isn’t as good, and I still find it challenging to communicate with people. When I eat, my host family laugh at the way I do it, since here it is common to have a meal solely with your hands. However, as every other little kid, I’ll start to develop all these new skills to the point I fully adapt to the Senegalese society and smoothly become one of them.

When people ask me about what am I doing here, they imagine me helping the poor, either by charity or maybe by doing something for them. I have always questioned that though, because really colonisation is an old fashion term, which only brings bad memories, atrocities to tons of traditions, and beliefs in most cases. I’m not here to teach them what’s right for the western world and what’s not, rather I’m here to actively observe, to pay attention to little details, to really learn, and if possible to serve to the community that has already given me a lot. As much as I would love to¬† kick off my experience by helping the people around me and sharing some of my limited knowledge, first, I need to understand the way they function as a society, the way their economy works, or even the way they learn.

What I was taught by my history teachers may not be the same as what people here in Senegal learn on their history class. It is all subjective to the context we are in, and as history varies from place to place depending on bias and opinions; common beliefs, traditions, religion and other aspects of life vary as well.

As my journey continues, I will be here, as another individual in this small world. I will be here, talking to strangers on the streets, telling them stories, making them laugh, having a fun time. I will be here, having Senegalese tea every afternoon after lunch, trying to understand French and Wolof, and expressing my thoughts. I will be here, playing football with the loveliest kids, running around, and being, just being.
After all, that is what life is about. Living it.

You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in. You are what you take from these. You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner.

You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life. You are every single second of every single day. So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge and existence. Let the words run through your veins and let the colors fill your mind until there is nothing left to do but explode. There are no wrong answers. Inspiration is everything. Sit back, relax, and take it all in.

To all of you.