5:00am wake ups are easier when these mountains call for you to get out of your tent. Photo by Cecelia Palmquist (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest, 1st Place), Nepal Semester.

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Where There Be Dragons

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    [post_date] => 2019-11-02 06:15:09
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    [post_content] => 
FIRST PLACE: JULIA HALLIN 
North India, Summer 2019
"Taken in the beginning of a grueling, warm day of trekking. There was nothing but a sheer cliff beyond and an endless flat expanse of desert behind. Glorious."
   
SECOND PLACE: VICTORIA SULLIVAN
China, Summer 2019
"My Bangdong homestay sister who loves ping-pong."
 
THIRD PLACE: HOPE LANE
Madagascar, Summer 2019
"Looking out over Isalo before sunset."

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all that submitted and shared such lovely images with us!

 VIEW ALL PHOTOS 

[post_title] => Announcing Summer 2019 Photo Contest Winners! [post_excerpt] => Congratulations to the winners of Dragons Summer 2019 Photo Contest... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => announcing-summer-2019-photo-contest-winners [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-05 14:12:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-05 21:12:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 646 [name] => Alumni Spotlight [slug] => alumni_spotlight [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 646 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [parent] => 0 [count] => 35 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 35 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/alumni_spotlight/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/announcements/ ) ) [category_links] => Alumni Spotlight, Announcements )
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    [post_date] => 2019-10-18 12:14:35
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    [post_content] => 

Before Megan Fettig joined Dragons as an administrator, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small rural community in southern Senegal from 2000-2002. Here's a series of black and white photographs she took while living in the community that, over the past 14 years, has welcomed, taught, and cared for over a hundred Dragons students. Her artist’s statement is included with the gallery. 

This series of work has been exhibited at the Alliance Frances in Accra, Ghana, the National Museum of Ghana in Accra, Ghana, and PII Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the photos in the series was awarded a second place prize in a juried exhibition at the University of Alaska. Please enjoy this digital version of her gallery! 

Manthiankani: A Photographic Tale of Life in a Senegalese Village

Photos & words by Megan E. Fettig

The roosters crow, there is a consistent pounding of mortar against pestle as the women prepare the morning meal. My neighbors awaken, a baby wails, the men chat across the way in the Chief’s compound. A hot and unforgiving sun creeps above the proud palm trees on the eastern horizon and I rise from my spot of slumber under a growing mango tree. I wander out into the day, to greet each member of my family; my host mother, father, my grandma, my dad’s second wife, my teen-aged brother. My two year old sister spots me and runs in my direction on wobbly legs grinning to greet me as she jumps into my open arms. I greet the Chief and the women whose pounding stirred me out of sleep and then the children who somehow over the weeks turned into months turned into years, became mine. And I decide that the sun is just right, that my adopted family looks so perfectly beautiful in this rising light, that I must hold my clunky old Olympus passed down to me from my own father in a far away land. I hear the familiar click as each frame of film is exposed and the story of my relationship with Senegal unwinds. A story of connection, of beauty, and of how strangers took me into their homes and their hearts, how I became theirs and they, mine.

This is a story that was born of a dream. A tale of my experience living, crying, sweating, laughing, and growing in a small village called Mancankani (pronounced maan-chan-kan-ee) in the southern region of Senegal, West Africa where I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I arrived in Senegal in April of 2000 after having spent a decade yearning to experience life in an African village. I longed to witness something pure, some quintessential elemental way of living that I had not experienced among the materialistic tendencies and the spiritual inadequacies of life in America. I wanted to walk barefoot, to feel deeply connected with people, the cycles of the moon, and the nuances of each season. I wanted to live the naive and romantic ideal of an African life. I wanted to move to the rhythms of an African drum, carry babies on my back, dance in the first falling drops of the rainy season.

Little did I know that I would indeed experience all those things and more. I neglected to imagine the frustration of trying to communicate with people of a different language and culture. My daydreams didn’t include feelings of intense isolation nor the hours and hours of anguished boredom with sweat running rivers down my stomach. Slowly, towards the end of two years, the frustrations eased, the isolation somehow transformed into connection, my expressions learned to lean towards laughter. The strangers I lived amongst evolved into neighbors, friends, and family. Their lives revealed wealth to me, perhaps not the type of wealth we try to cultivate in the West; this wealth is more subtle, it dwells closer to the earth, it’s gem is the sparkle of an African sky on any given night, it’s heart is in family, in simply living close to each other.

My hope is that these photographs build a bridge from one human family to another. View them and set aside the traditional misconceptions of Africa; the idea that only poverty, illness and war stricken lives reside there. Experience the mornings when I picked up my camera as the sun rose over the distant palm trees, now two decades ago. See beauty in the face of simplicity so you can know a people who possess the traits of easy laughter, immense hospitality, and an openness to inviting a stranger into their home and calling her their daughter.

  In 2005, Megan Fettig co-created and guided Dragons first program on the African continent bringing students to her Peace Corps village in Senegal. The holistic, community centered, and off-the-beaten-path style of Dragons programs captured Megan’s heart and in the past dozen years, she has continued her involvement with Dragons in several capacities including Instructor, West Africa Program Director, Marketing Director, and most recently, Co-Director of Adult Programs.    
Ps. Want Dragons blog updates sent directly to your inbox? One email a week. Nothing markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️
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    [post_date] => 2019-10-15 15:34:08
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    [post_content] => The following is an excerpt of a recent letter that Executive Director Reed Harwood sent to Dragons instructors, past and present. It offers some history on the new Bishop Paiute Scholarship, which is the result of a relationship between Dragons staff and the indigenous tribe that lives near the site of Dragons annual staff orientation in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. 


Dear Instructor Community:

“I believe in gatherings” said Paul Chaves, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. “And when you gather good people… that’s powerful. This is powerful.” We shared a canopy of stars, the dusty forest floor, and the piñon breeze.  We gathered in the current and ancestral home of the Paiute: the Payahuunadu, aka the Owens River Valley, aka the annual site of Dragons Staff Orientation in the Eastern Sierra. 

Dragons and the Bishop Paiute forged a connection in June of 2018, when a small group of Dragons instructors visited the Paiute tribe on their land in Bishop. The Dragons delegation had collected seeds from Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Madagascar, Thailand, India, Laos, and Mexico for the Paiute’s Food Sovereignty Program. Later that week, a small group of Paiute representatives visited Dragons Orientation at the mouth of Rock Creek. We broke bread, they wondered and laughed at our “Talent Show,” and in Paul’s words a “friendship and allyship” was born. This year, we again participated in their Food Sovereignty program. They shared a meal with us at the our orientation campground, performed traditional songs and spoken word poetry at our talent show, and returned the next day to sell artisan goods at our global market.

Paul told me the ancient myths of the condor and the eagle, and the connections between his people and the people where the Andean condor flies. His people have always been global travelers. “The Paiute are a sovereign nation,” he said, “and our voice is needed at the global table. We’re getting there, but our youth need more global perspective and connection.” I felt the call of reciprocity pulse through my body. The ancestral home of the Paiute has held us for decades, and the Dragons community can now support the Paiute in gaining access to global engagement.

This fall, the Dragons Fund created a scholarship: the Bishop Paiute Scholarship. This annually-awarded, full-ride scholarship will support Bishop Paiute youth on Dragons programs.

As a Dragons staff member, you have received inspiration and solace from the Payahuunadu, the land of the Paiute. You believe in the power of global education. You know how vital it is to have indigenous representation at the table, as we navigate the survival of our collective history. 

Over the next four months, Courtney Zenner Campbell* and Briana Bellamy* will guide the Dragons Fund’s “Ten Scholarships in 2020” campaign, which includes our goal to provide one full-ride summer scholarship to a Bishop Paiute student. Their campaign is just beginning, and they will need your help.  If the spirit moves you to support this scholarship, when donating, simply write “Bishop Paiute Scholarship” in the “Add Special Instructions” section. 

You will hear from Briana and Courtney soon about this important initiative. Thank you, in advance, for considering this effort.

Reed

*Former Dragons instructors and administrators, Briana Bellamy and Courtney Zenner Campbell currently manage the Dragons Fund and its fall “Ten in 2020” campaign. Their goal is to raise money for ten full scholarships for students who could not otherwise afford to participate in a Dragons program.  You can learn more about the Ten in 2020 campaign at www.DragonsFund.org, or by reaching out to Courtney (courtney@dragonsfund.org) or Briana (briana@dragonsfund.org, 510-990-0271).
Ps. Want Dragons blog updates sent directly to your inbox? One email a week. Nothing markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️
[post_title] => Dragons ED, Reed Harwood, on Gatherings & The *New* Bishop Paiute Scholarship [post_excerpt] => An excerpt of a letter that Dragons Executive Director, Reed Harwood, sent to Dragons instructors to offer history on the new Bishop Paiute Scholarship... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-ed-reed-harwood-on-gatherings-the-new-bishop-paiute-scholarship [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-29 15:54:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-29 21:54:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 32 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 32 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/announcements/ ) ) [category_links] => About Dragons, Announcements )
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    [post_date] => 2019-10-08 16:18:01
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    [post_content] => 

Dragons is excited to announce a new collaboration with Lumos Foundation, a non-profit founded by J.K. Rowling that aims to end the use of orphanages and institutions for vulnerable children around the world by 2050. 

Dragons will work with Lumos on their three-year campaign aiming to educate young volunteers abroad on the harmful impacts of voluntourism, especially orphanage volunteering. Ultimately, we want to be a part of the conversation to develop best practices and to spark a wider discussion on what responsible volunteering and travel looks like.

As part of this work, Dragons will be publishing our own Child Protection Position Paper which will complement our stance on Learning Service and Responsible Travel. In the meantime, if you are (or know) a past or current student who is passionate about this topic and would like to share their story, please contact Jessica Armstrong (jessica@wheretherebedragons.com).
Ps. Want Dragons blog updates sent directly to your inbox? One email a week. Nothing markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️
[post_title] => Dragons Collaboration with Lumos Foundation [post_excerpt] => Dragons is excited to announce a new collaboration with Lumos Foundation, a non-profit founded by J.K. Rowling that aims to end the use of orphanages and institutions for vulnerable children around the world by 2050. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dragons-collaboration-with-lumos-foundation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-17 09:14:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-17 15:14:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 641 [name] => About Dragons [slug] => about_dragons [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 641 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [parent] => 0 [count] => 32 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 9 [cat_ID] => 641 [category_count] => 32 [category_description] => Press, Essays from Admin, and Behind-the-Scenes HQ. [cat_name] => About Dragons [category_nicename] => about_dragons [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/about_dragons/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 669 [name] => Engage [slug] => engage [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 669 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [parent] => 0 [count] => 14 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 13 [cat_ID] => 669 [category_count] => 14 [category_description] => Activism, Advocacy, Leadership & Organizing. [cat_name] => Engage [category_nicename] => engage [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/engage/ ) ) [category_links] => About Dragons, Engage )
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    [post_date] => 2019-10-01 09:01:47
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    [post_content] => 

It was extremely hard for the committee to choose, but we’ve selected our three top Dragons Visual Story contest winners:

1-minute Visual Story by Tom of Dragons Guatemala, 6-week Summer Program 2019.

 

1-minute visual story video by Isabelle of Dragons Peru Summer Program 2019.

 

1-minute visual story video by Samantha of Dragons China Summer Program 2019.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TOM, SAMANTHA, and ISABELLE!

And thank you to ALL those who put love into their beautiful video contest submissions. They were an honor to watch!

Sincerely,

Dragons HQ

 
Ps. Want Dragons blog updates sent directly to your inbox? One email a week. Nothing markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️
[post_title] => ANNOUNCING OUR THREE 1-MINUTE “VISUAL STORY” VIDEO CONTEST WINNERS! [post_excerpt] => It was extremely hard for the committee to choose, but we’ve selected our three top Dragons Visual Story contest winners... [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => announcing-our-three-1-minute-visual-story-video-contest-winners-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-17 14:24:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-17 20:24:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 638 [name] => From the Field [slug] => from_the_field [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 638 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [parent] => 0 [count] => 53 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 4 [cat_ID] => 638 [category_count] => 53 [category_description] => Featured Yaks, Reflections, Quotes, Photo Spreads and Videos from the Four Corners. [cat_name] => From the Field [category_nicename] => from_the_field [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/from_the_field/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 646 [name] => Alumni Spotlight [slug] => alumni_spotlight [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 646 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [parent] => 0 [count] => 35 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 35 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/alumni_spotlight/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 651 [name] => Announcements [slug] => announcements [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 651 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [parent] => 0 [count] => 48 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 14 [cat_ID] => 651 [category_count] => 48 [category_description] => Announcements on: New Programs, Surveys, Jobs/Internships, Contests, & Behind-the-Scenes Activity. [cat_name] => Announcements [category_nicename] => announcements [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => From the Field, Alumni Spotlight ... )
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    [post_date] => 2019-09-19 10:59:04
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    [post_content] => 

If you're wondering what type of thing reduces the Boulder HQ administrative team to tears, this is it:

(Thank you Nina Saligman, specifically, for featuring the faces of so many Dragons instructors we know and adore!)

Ps. Want Dragons blog updates sent directly to your inbox? One email a week. Nothing markety. Unsubscribe any time. Subscribe to Dragons Blog and stay connected to the community. ❤️
[post_title] => A Phenomenal Destination (Short Film) by Dragons Alum Nina Saligman [post_excerpt] => If you're wondering what type of thing reduces the Boulder HQ administrative team to tears, watch this vide. (And thank you Nina Saligman, specifically, for featuring the faces of so many Dragons instructors we know and adore!) [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-phenomenal-destination-short-film-by-dragons-alum-nina-saligman [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-10-17 09:15:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-17 15:15:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 646 [name] => Alumni Spotlight [slug] => alumni_spotlight [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 646 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [parent] => 0 [count] => 35 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 10 [cat_ID] => 646 [category_count] => 35 [category_description] => Featured Student Alumni and their projects/organizations/visions. [cat_name] => Alumni Spotlight [category_nicename] => alumni_spotlight [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/alumni_spotlight/ ) [1] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 670 [name] => Recommended [slug] => recommended [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 670 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [parent] => 0 [count] => 11 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 11 [cat_ID] => 670 [category_count] => 11 [category_description] => Recommended reading, watching and listening. [cat_name] => Recommended [category_nicename] => recommended [category_parent] => 0 [link] => https://www.wheretherebedragons.com/news/category/recommended/ ) [2] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 654 [name] => Mixed Media [slug] => mixed_media [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 654 [taxonomy] => category [description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [parent] => 0 [count] => 39 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 12 [cat_ID] => 654 [category_count] => 39 [category_description] => Featured Photography, Videos, Podcasts, Photo Contest Winners, Films & Art [cat_name] => Mixed Media [category_nicename] => mixed_media [category_parent] => 0 ) ) [category_links] => Alumni Spotlight, Recommended ... )
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    [post_date] => 2019-09-12 12:45:55
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    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_155381" align="alignnone" width="4512"] PHOTO: Fernanda and her homestay mom, Ouleye; dad, Ibou; and brothers, Sidikh, Rassoul, and baby Mame Cheikh.[/caption]

WORDS by FERNANDA ROMO

SENEGAL PRINCETON BRIDGE YEAR PROGRAM ALUMNI

Mungi dox literally translates to, “it walks.” In conversation, however, one might use it to mean “it’s going,” “it’s fine,” or “it works.” When I set out to write this piece, with the prompt of mungi dox in mind, I immediately thought about my family. After all, I’m living in a homestay with a total of nineteen people (I think), including three married couples and twelve kids of various ages. This is naturally bound to be a bit chaotic and might seem like a headache for people more habituated to smaller “nuclear family” living arrangements. For this reason, writing about how my household functions, how everyone pitches in, and how living in these big families actually works was sure to be a crowd pleaser. Wouldn’t everyone love to hear the conclusions I’d drawn about African family structures from my experience living with the Mbayes?
“Wouldn’t everyone love to hear the conclusions I’d drawn about African family structures from my experience living with the Mbayes? Regrettably, as appealing as that piece might sound, I’m not writing it.”
Regrettably, as appealing as that piece might sound, I’m not writing it. Mainly, because I can’t. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that the chances of me being able to provide a fair analysis of this family’s dynamics are about as high as those of snowfall in Dakar. The mere idea of scrutinizing the way these people behave within their family, just to arrive to the conclusion that it surprisingly “works,” feels foolish at best and condescending at worst. However, my impending erroneousness is not the only thing holding me back from writing about the people in Senegal who are so dear to me. For a long time I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why I felt a tinge of discomfort every time I thought about turning the people I consider family into the subjects of my writing, especially when said writing is directed to Western audiences. I remember once, I considered blogging about Mame Maty, my instructor Babacar’s 10-year-old daughter, who I love like crazy and who is definitely one of the people closest to my heart here. I ended up deciding against it, because something about it wasn’t sitting right with me. And even though I didn’t entirely understand why, one thought kept popping up in my mind: she’s my friend. That’s also what I feel today when trying to make myself produce some insightful conclusions or lessons gathered from analyzing my homestay family. I don’t want to “report back” on what Senegalese families are like, both because it’s not possible to do so accurately, and because these people are, first of all, my family. Not subjects of study, not sources of all-encompassing revelations, but people who treat me like a daughter, a sister, a friend. And just as I wouldn’t write up a couple pages about my best friend back in Mexico and send it to an audience of people who she will never meet and who will form their entire perception of who she is based on my words, I don’t particularly feel inclined to do that here. And maybe that’s a good thing. After all, I think the main reason why the Bridge Year Program works, and is so incredibly meaningful, is because of relationships. The moments when I have felt that my time here has the greatest value have all been centered around having strong bonds, familiarity, and overall friendship with people. It’s really beautiful to think about how my Senegalese family and I genuinely care about each other, and how our lives have been enriched as a result. So I guess if you asked me, “Does it work to put a random toubab1 in the middle of a household in Dakar, Senegal, and have her be a part of this family for a few months?” I’d say yeah, mungi dox.

FERNANDA ROMO left her home in Mexico in 2017 to travel to Senegal for nine months as part of Dragons Princeton Bridge Year Program. She is currently a student at Princeton University, where she spends her days looking at pictures of her time in Dakar at 3am, facetiming her five dogs, and going on rants about the fake Mexican food in the dining halls.

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