This morning, back in Dakar, we gathered on the rooftop of our guesthouse – the same one that we stayed in on our very first night in-country, three long months ago – and we expressed our wishes for what we hope to take home with us as we leave Senegal and each other, and what we hope to leave behind. With our cowry shell bracelets in one hand and a handful of Senegalese sand in the other, we promised ourselves to continue to be selfless, patient, flexible, community-minded and connected, and we promised to leave behind perfectionism, fear, self-doubt, and more. To reaffirm our promises to ourselves and to each other, we let the wind carry away our handfuls of sand and fastened our cowry shell bracelets to our wrists as a reminder of this community, and of all we’ve learned.
This has been the theme of our Transference – discussing how to bring what we’ve learned and experienced home, how to continue to travel and to live as the confident, capable, intelligent, curious, and engaged young women (and Samba!) we know ourselves to be. The majority of our Transference activities took place in Toubab Dialaw, a gorgeous, secluded cliff-side spot an hour outside of Dakar. We reflected on all of the fond memories and moments we shared with one another and practiced how to share something of our experience back at home. We discussed American and Senegalese values, learned about each others’ ISP projects, spent a creative morning designing prayer flags to send our wishes for the earth and for ourselves out into the world, shared what we’ve appreciated and admired in one another, and played in the ocean waves.
The young women that we send home this evening are brilliant, strong, fabulous women, and we feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend three months learning with them and from them, teaching them and watching them grow and change and challenge themselves. We are so excited to see what they all will go on to do, in the next few months and years. We all have unique and different adventures that await us, and even though our time together is coming to an end, we hope each student will continue to travel, wherever they may be – continue to observe, to ask questions, and to connect.
Endings are always bittersweet. We will miss this community, but we know that we will all carry something from it with us, on our wrists and in our hearts. In many ways, this is just the beginning; the beginning of what will be a lifelong journey of discovery, adventure, and growth.
The I-Team — Angelica, Samba, and Laura