You. Be. Careful.

Grace Bachmann - Senegal

September 7, 2012

The Ecuador Fellows might have boarded a plane by now, and Brazil Fellows are soon to follow. This evening, only 30 Fellows remain. The Senegal Fellows. Together, we overwhelmed Gate 43, San Francisco International Airport, armed with One World Futbols, green Global Cltizen Year T-shirts, and red, yellow and green bordered visas marked ‘Republique du Sénégal.’

Every airport that has a Hudson News also has one wall dedicated to a vast variety of trail mix. Energy trail mix, fancy trail mix, yogurt nut mix, cranberry dark chocolate trail mix…. I stood in front of this great wall of trail mixes, memorizing the experience: my right and ability to choose, to reject and accept, to elect what I deemed worthy.

When I explained my Global Citizen Year in Senegal to a man I encountered in this Hudson News shop, I witnessed a common vision of Africa in the mirrors of his haughty eyes. “You. Be. Careful.” His words were severe. I sensed the label he imposed on me: naive, idealistic, with a romanticized vision of Africa. The word “Africa” conjures a vision of savannah landscapes peopled with remote villages, and burdened with poverty and violent unrest. It is a continent of multiple countries that we lump together into a largely unknown abyss called Africa. I nodded respectfully as he harshly bid me safety and left the Hudson News.

Grace Bachmann