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The Rhythm of West Africa

The past week in my homestay has been quite interesting, to say the least. Whether trying to use squat toilets and buckets showers, using Wolof to communicate, trying to sleeping through the cow that moo’s outside my window all night, attempting to embrace the plentiful awkward silence, or the new development, being offered baby food after almost every dinner – it feels as though there is always a new challenge to overcome. My list of challenges feels infinite, but the positives are much more plentiful and so much more important to focus on. I have been totally accepted into a family that spans three generations, including an absolutely adorable 12 month old and 4 baby bunnies. I have learned quite a bit of Wolof, and have had great opportunists to practice French. I am slowly learning to cook Senegalese cuisine (though my main task is pounding pepper at the moment). The list goes on and on. I’ve learned so much in the past week about a culture so different, yet also so similar, to my own. The outpouring of love my homestay family has for one another reminds me so much of my own family back home. The strong and guiding community that backs each Senegalese individual reminds me so much of all the people I have looking out for me.

While the challenges may feel overwhelming at times, I have recognized that it is all simply part of the “Rhythm of West Africa.” The generous sense of hospitality is outstanding. The laid back and relaxed attitude about basically everything is refreshing to see and be immersed into. Yet, the constant movement, whether it be children or mooing cows or traffic, is a helpful reminder to stay present in the movement, and to focus on all of the positives, and most importantly, to remember why I came to Senegal to discover the “Rhythm of West Africa.”

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