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Pre-Course Assignment

Hi all!

I’m Taz. I currently attend Beacon High school in midtown New York, but I’m an uptown girl (living in her uptown world). I’m a rising sophomore. As a Peruvian-American living between two parents, I’ve had the chance to travel quite a bit. In addition to having parents that live in two different continents, my parents have lived rather international lives, moving to a new country every two years or so; this has contributed significantly to my international life. I suppose my projected passion for traveling led a friend’s mom to introduce me to Dragons. Though I’ve traveled some, I haven’t had the chance to venture off to the Western Coastal area of Africa in which Senegal resides. I’m excited not only to learn about Senegal while cultivating friendships but also to contribute to the team by being a readily available and solution-oriented mindset. As for a fun fact, or something you can know about me, my favorite color is olive green. There’s a reason behind this specificity: if you enunciate the word ‘olive’ it kind of sounds like ‘all of’; my favorite color then becomes a spectrum of colors (all of green). But olive green is, in fact, my preferred color within the spectrum because it reminds me of the trees in the Appalachians, a mountain range that I treasure dearly.

My knowledge of influential Senegalese figures is limited, but after some research, I’ve had the chance to learn about powerful feminist Mariama Bâ. Born in Dakar, in 1929, Bâ grew up with her maternal grandmother, a devout Muslim and traditionalist in culture, and her father, a tolerant politician who believed in the power of education. This mixture of values led to Mariama’s enrollment at a French boarding school (one of the firsts), and to her success in academics. Growing up, Bâ came to notice the inequalities between the sexes and began writing about her observations through letters, determined to reveal these injustices. This collection of letters soon came to be a book called So Long A Letter. Her work as a writer is highly celebrated: through literature, she was able to highlight how patriarchies, the laws in the Quran, and Senegalese cultural beliefs hindered women in Senegalese society by enforcing unjust regulations and limitations upon females. Not only was she an influencer through her writing, but Bâ was also an activist who worked with women’s organizations and news sources to help promote women’s rights. In 1980, just one year before she passed, So Long A Letter received the first Noma Prize awarded in Africa. During her acceptance speech, Mariama Bâ said, “People must be instructed, cultured, and educated so that things can advance.” This statement strongly resonates with me because it comes to show her belief in non-violent influence as well as her solution-oriented mindset. Mariama Bâ wanted women to have rights, and she wanted to bring light to the issue of gender inequality peacefully.

See y’all at the airport!

-Taz