Sunday, April 15, 2012


Its springtime in Michigan! I made it safely home, after sprinting through the DC airport to make my connecting flight. Some guy was running for the same plane, and as he passed me I shouted after him, "it's not fair, you have real shoes on and Im wearing plastic flip flops!" He alerted them to my imminent arrival, and I was able to hop on the plane right before they pulled up the stairwell.

I was surprised by Nana meeting me at the Detroit airport! Where I immediately bought spicy chicken tenders and some kind of chemical-filled chocolatey peppermint whipped cream concoction, parading itself as a coffee (yum). We then went out for a family dinner at Max and Erma's before ending the evening with a heated game of Settlers of Catan and banana Cream Pie.

This morning, I woke up in the most comfortable bed ever, went to church with my family, and then we all went out to a breakfast buffet. I really wanted to put the vegetable cream cheese on my bagel, but the bagel turned out to be cinnamon raisin, so I made a sandwich out of toast, veggie cream cheese, eggs, and bacon. I wrapped the bagel in tissue and stuffed it into my purse for lack of any better idea. I couldnt just leave it. Anyways, after getting home and playing yet another game of Settlers, my stepmom and I went to get pedicures and manicures. We then went to the mall where I got a pair of flip flops that I instantly traded in for my terrible falling-apart senegalese flip flops bought at a garage. I decided to go for an evening run and only made it about 20 minutes before accepting the fact that I have lost all muscle mass and will have to work back into this whole "being healthy again" thing. Walking home in the evening, after an afternoon rain was wonderful. I forgot how beautiful and green it is here, with the bright pink cherry blossoms and apple blossoms covered in butterflies. Even the smell made me want to smile like a maniac walking down the side of the road.

I could be sentimental and say I miss Senegal...but, for now, thats not true. Im so relieved and happy to be back. I do still feel the urge to shout "Assalam malekoum!" when I walk into a room, though (such as the mani/pedi salon), and did keep checking over my shoulder for oncoming charettes while running. But, for now, Im going to watch TV, eat roasted chicken, have a martini, and bask in the glory that is America.

While Nana is here, I get to be on vacation, too. But, starting Wednesday, I need to at least start attending to the following things to get my life back in some kind of order. Like getting new glasses since mine mysteriously disappeared : P Luckily, I already know Im headed to grad school in the fall, so no pressure this summer :-) Summer of fun, 2012, here we go!

Very important life things I need to get in order before im allowed to do fun things:
get glasses, contacts, a credit card, access to my bank account, renew my drivers license, buy clothes that are wear-able in public, get a computer and a hard drive, buy a phone, get a phone number and calling plan, and basically just try to become a functioning member of society.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Well, Im done! Going to the airport in a few hours. Ill write a final blog post when I get home. For now, I cant even begin to process everything. I cant believe its been two years, I cant believe I have to say goodbye to this country that has become my home, that I may never again see the family that has taken me in and accepted me as their daughter for the past two years. Coming home means giving up a language and an entire way of life. Im so relieved to be going home, but am also scared. My identity has been as a "Peace Corps Volunteer," for the past two years. This has been such an intense experience and has become a large part of who I am. Ive made so many amazing friends and have had wonderful experiences. Ive also dealt with the daily frustration of being a young woman in a male dominated muslim country. For now, all I can think about is the food I want to eat back in America. Beyond's probably going to be really hard adjusting to life in the US. So, Im making plans, and will put them up here before ending the blog.

To kick off my last evening here, one of my good friends and I went up to the roof of the office (5 stories high with a view of the ocean) and shot the cork off of a champagne bottle and cheers'ed to two of the most amazing years of our lives. Thank you, Senegal, for everything : )

While Ive been here, Senegal has seemed like an entire world away, and has been such an intense experience. I cant wrap my mind around the fact that once I get on that 8 hours Ill be right back in the house where I spent my middle school and high school years. It feels like two separate worlds are about to collide, and Im not sure if Im ready for that. Ive missed my family so much, though, and I just cant wait to see everyone's faces waiting for me at the airport in Detroit. I remember coming home from Switzerland after a year abroad my junior year, and feeling overwhelmed with happiness and sadness at the same time. I cant even begin to imagine what this homecoming is going to be like. I can easily picture myself crying with both happiness and sadness, perhaps kissing the ground, all while shoving a cinnabon in my face. Luckily, one of my favorite people in my group of volunteers is on the same flights with me to DC and then Detroit. Alhamdoulilahi.

See you on the flip side america. Jamm Soom.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Super Stage, Two Year Anniversary Today!

Hi everyone! So, I have been here in Senegal for TWO years today, and it has flown by. I dont even know where the past year has gone. Ive started clearing out my hut, planning out how to get my cat to DC(Jin is my favorite!!), and helping to set up two new sites near my village where volunteers will install (move in) this May. I have spent the past week in Dakar, using internet, applying for summer jobs, and getting work done. Most importantly, I found out that I have been accepted at the University of Victoria! I am still waiting on a couple of other schools, but the program at Victoria is pretty much perfect, plus Ive already lived there and know its a beautiful, fun, and exciting place to be. So, my fingers are crossed that nothing goes wrong with the paperwork, and that I can become a student there soon!

Here's the website for the project I would be working with:


I also just figured out how to write a bold hyperlink that opens in a separate window! I know a 6th grader could figure it out but I'm still proud of myself :-) Anyways, I am coming home to Michigan on April 14th, and will then head down to NC with my family for my sister's graduation from UNC Asheville on May 5th. After that, my plans are up in the air. I would like to go hiking for a couple of weeks at some point, and hopefully spend that time with people I have been missing for the past two years! Ive also started applying for some summer jobs, though the thought of hanging out in Ann Arbor or Novi for the summer, and traveling to visit people throughout, sounds pretty wonderful as well. Mostly, Im just excited to see everyone, buy new clothes and electronics, get back in shape, and feel helthy and good again.

I still have a month here, though, which is perfect. I have work to wrap up and a lot of goodbyes to get started on. I know its going to be hard, and I will keep you all updated! I thought I would leave you with a glimpse of my daily life. This Baobab tree is about a 30min walk from my village. I head out there most evenings with a nalgene full of hot tea. I sit in the tree, watch the sun setting, listen to podcasts or music, and then walk home before it gets dark. Its really nice :-)

On another note, one of my friends here, who I spend a lot of time with and visit in her village whenever I need a vacation, is working on a health hut. Her projet is up on the website for donations, so if you are feeling generous, she still needs funding. The village is awesome, and its a great project! Here's the link:

Health Hut!

One last thing, my mom is getting surgery on Thursday, and Im not sure how serious it is. Please keep her in your prayers!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elections and Camels.

As you may have heard, the national elections are coming up this weekend. The current president is running again, which is illegal according to the constitution, and many people are strongly against it. There have been riots in Dakar, as well as other regional capitols. I'll be hiding out in my village where nothing will happen : ) We might all have to go to designated points in our regions if things get bad so that the Peace Corps administration can keep track of every single volunteer, but luckily mine is at a campement with a nice pool. So, Im kind of hoping we get consolidated, as it is called. On another note, whenever people are unhappy about something in Senegal, they show their malcontent by burning tires. I will never understand why. Here's a photo I took offline:

Burning Tires. Effective.

I just got a bunch of pictures from other volunteers as well, so here are a few of the things Ive been doing lately, with more to come! Over the past week, three other volunteers and I have been painting murals ALL over the training center in Thies, so that it looks nice for the new group of trainees who arrive in a couple of weeks. Photos to come!

These are two of my favorite kids in my family, they are SO cute:

Djibbi (another favorite):

CAMEL! There is a campement of tents out in the desert where you can ride camels and eat moroccan cous cous in a tent. Its beautiful : )

Charlene beginning a logistically difficult mural. I helped finish it yesterday. It eventually reads "Bismillah," and is followed by the Peace Corps logo. Im still sore from trying not to fall off that roof:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oh Well.

TWO YEARS. Two Years!!! Well, almost. I *almost* made it two whole years without dropping a bucket into the well. I dropped a t-shirt in there once, a month or so after arriving in my village, but that was it until last week.

In order to get water for showering, drinking, washing clothes, etc. I have to walk to the well, where families leave ropes tied to water bags, buckets, jugs, etc. I toss one down into the well, fill it with water (depending on the container this can require some finesse) pull it up, fill my bucket, and walk home with the bucket on my head. Families are really protective about their water-pulling contraptions because plastic and rope dont exactly come cheap.

Last week I went to the well, and mid-bucket toss I got distracted by thoughts of all the sushi Im going to eat in America and completely forgot to hold on to the rope, thus throwing the entire thing out into open air. I watched in horror as the bucket started to fill while the rope snaked 30ft down to the water table...of course two women walked up right as it started to sink. They immediately went into action mode and started tossing other buckets down to try and catch the sinking rope/bucket, but could only get it halfway up before the water weight pulled it back down. One of the women is my mute neighbor, and while holding the rope about 15ft above the water, she started shouting incomprehensibly at me while gesturing to a nearby field. I ran off in that direction having literally no idea what was expected of me, but came hopefully back lugging a 15ft long thorny branch that I saw on the ground. She gave me a thumbs up, and I lowered the branch (more of a log, really) down into the well, snagged the rope by flailing it around in the air, and slowly raised it (praying the branch wouldnt break) until the third women could reach it with a rake she had found somewhere.

Yeesh. The village women havent been letting me pull water since then, they take my bucket from me and fill it themselves...and I can't say I mind too much : )

Monday, January 2, 2012

Trials and Troubles. Sort of...

New Year's was a LOT of fun. I was sitting in my hut reading when two other volunteers randomly showed up outside of my hut, thus concluding an 18 day bike trip. It was a nice surprise : ) We went to Mbour and stocked up on snacks, came back to my village, and tried to stay up until midnight. I was the only one who made it, and just barely. Also, I found out today that my watch has been at least 45 minutes slow for the past week, but it has made absolutely no difference to my life in the village.

The excitement is over now, though, and I am back to the battle in which I have been engaged for the past week. Call it the Great Fence Standoff. The fence next to my shower area (cement slab with a hole in the middle) is completely destroyed, and my family offered to get me new fence and put it up. But they wanted me to pay for it (only like...two dollars) but the rest of my fence is totally fine. That part broke because my younger mom sneaks branches out of it at like 6am to use for firewood, and the horses and donkeys both eat and scratch their entire bodies on it. So, I refused to pay on principle. I bought a whole new fence last year. This is just how things go in Senegal. I cant tell them to buy me a new one, so its been a week of passive aggressive endeavors on the part of me and my family. They steal part of my fence, I steal some of theirs, they dry leaves for food in my backyard, I dont tell them that their goats are eating the leaves after getting in through my broken fence, etc.

You may be thinking I need to get a life. I agree. But, for now, Im content to sit around reading Game of Thrones and showing my family that I have been here long enough to outmanouvre them in a typical Senegalese Standoff. I will let you know who wins.

Oh, and on January First, first action of the New Year, was to have the fence fall on my head while I was squatting over the cement slab. Of course.

Hapy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Its my favorite holiday! This marks my third Christmas ever away from home, and while I am pretty much ready to get back to the states in a few months, its been a nice vacation here! Even now, at the Peace Corps office in Dakar, Im looking out the window at palm trees waving around in the sunshine, with the Atlantic spanning endless blue in the background...and I can hear Christmas carols wafting up from the Christian center next door. Last night, a few other volunteers came to the office where Im staying (nice air conditioned rooms and TV) and I cooked up a bunch of french onion soup with plenty of Gruyere cheese on top. I also made scones, and we drank champagne while watching the extended Lord of the Rings movies : )

After the second movie, we got dressed up and set off in a cab to downtown Dakar, where there is a massive cathedral. Fireworks were being set off all night throughout the entire city, which tends to happen on every holiday. There was a mass at 10pm in French, which was an interesting and moving experience. The Senegalese drums were, of course, broken out at one point during a carol. After two and a half hours of mass, we decided to head out early. We were some of the last non-senegalese people left. I have no idea how long the mass went on for, but all ceremonies here tend to go on FOREVER.

Anyways, today we're watching Christmas movies, eating a Bouche de Noel, and having peppermint hot chocolate. I have a box of gifts from home, including Cheez-its, which are almost gone already : D Plus the Game of Thrones books which is all I plan on doing for the next week or so.

Im really excited for the new year. I will have officially completed one full year living in Africa, and will go into 2012 knowing I get to come home as an RPCV! This has been an amazing year, and an amazing experience overall (and will continue to be probably). I have no idea where the next year will take me. Im hoping grad school, but who knows? Fingers crossed. Since I probably wont be posting again before New Years, Ill put up my resolutions here. Merry Christmas everyone! I'll be calling America soon. Happy New Year as well, and if you are reading this, I hope to see you in 2012!!


1. Get home in one piece.
2. Get my cat home in one piece.
3. Get into grad school or find an exciting job.
4. Set up two new sites here in Senegal.
5. Bake a LOT of good food once Im back in America.

Should be do-able : ) Back to the Christmas movies!