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Photo by Sophie Singletary


Hi everyone! My name is Maddie (short for Madeleine), and I’m from Seattle, Washington, where I’ve lived my whole life. I’m so excited to be a part of Bridge Year Senegal, and to meet everyone from the program, Princeton, and Senegal!

I have a younger sister named Josie and my parents are Danielle (a science teacher) and Chris (a research engineer). We have five pets: a dog, a cat, a lizard, and two guinea pigs. My family goes camping a lot here in Washington, and we always bring the dog, Rain, who’s looking very scenic with the Olympic mountains above. With my friends I’m usually grabbing a coffee, watching Gilmore Girls, or celebrating Gal-entines day (Parks and Rec anyone?)

In high school, I was involved in the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking program. More than learning techniques or film analysis I realized I loved the storytelling and the way you got to know so many different kinds of people. Because of this, I ended up focusing on documentary filmmaking. Working on this subject led eventually to interning with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP). It was working there and seeing how much cultural context really influences perception that really made me wonder what it would be like to be a stranger in a different country, although of course Bridge Year does so much more for the transition than most NWIRP clients can receive. I am excited (and nervous) to experience that immersion, and to learn French, Wolof, and—if I can—some Arabic! My family recently hosted a French exchange student, and she spent a long time trying to help with the hopeless cause that is my French “r”.

I chose to apply to the Senegal Bridge Year for many reasons: the program focus areas, the culture of “teranga,” the languages, etc…the more I hear, the happier I am this is the location I chose! My mother is South African (she moved to the US for school, originally) but I feel like I haven’t learned very much about Africa in the past, and so it’s important to me now to learn as much as I can, especially considering I’ve only really been to South Africa itself. Just reading some of the suggested books—So Long a Letter, No God But God, etc—has given me better context for how I view the world now.

I’m so excited to meet everyone—and Lu, I am SO glad I’m not the only one bad with maps! You definitely won’t be the only one getting lost…