I don’t do things in halves. Growing up, I had never broken or fractured a bone. Then, when I was twelve, I broke two bones in my arm and ended up in a cast for six months. Before this trip, I had never before been out of the country. Most people in the US would travel to Canada or even Europe, but I went to Senegal, Africa, with nobody else I knew, for a month.
This experience has allowed me to look straight into the world of other people and cultures that I otherwise knew nothing of. Dragons is a program that definitely does not do things in halves. I am on the first day of our rural homestay and the experience has blown my mind. The lives of my homestay family are so different from my own life, so much so that I have truly been led to the revelation of how big the world is. I have been given a new name as a welcome to my home, and have been privileged to see Senegalese hospitality for myself. My family makes me feel welcome as my little cousin is always holding my hand, and everyone is so patient with my zero knowledge of Pular. My sister laughs with me about how I always respond: “Peace only,” when I am asked about my home.
Being with a group of people who have known each other their entire lives and I can’t even communicate with is certainly a huge challenge filled with awkwardness and opportunity. I have never been one to shy away from challenges. My six fellow students and I have certainly been thrown into extremely difficult situations that have ultimately made a strong bond between us and I believe has in a way benefited us all. This trip isn’t easy, but easy isn’t what we signed up for. I cannot wait to see where the next half of this adventure will take us!!
~ Khadijatou (Maddy)