As I prepare to leave Senegal tonight, my thoughts turn to all the incredible people I met during my time here. Even though I will say goodbye to my fellow participants soon, I know that our friendships and our memories will last a lifetime. We have formed our own unique family over the course of our three weeks — through travel mishaps, group excursions, playing with children during our service, shared meals, messy yet delicious mangos, and classroom discussions and reflections.
During our free time, we’d congregate at N’Ice Cream or stroll through our neighborhood of Sacre Coeur to the grocery store, Auchan. On several different afternoons, we played in the park with our young neighbors. No matter where we were or what we were doing at the moment, all of us were just happy to be in Senegal.
Now, reflecting back at the end of the trip, each of us has found a unique place in our group dynamic. Together we form a patchwork family of different geographical locations, tied together forever by our shared adventures. It’s hard to think that today will be the last time we’re all in the same place at the same time.
As for my host family, I have already decided to return to Senegal at some point in the future. My three host sisters and two host parents have become true family members over the past few weeks. We love laughing and joking around together, as well as discussing our own respective cultures and sharing English and Wolof with each other. It’s crazy to think that I now have another family on another continent, but I could not be more grateful, nor more gratified.
It’s the small details that have brightened my days here — the way people stop and greet us on the street, the mangos that my host dad leaves as presents in the morning, the honking of taxis during rush hour, the silent collaboration during our time at Colombin, the beautiful African fabrics and colorful clothing, the smiles on the faces of children at École De La Rue, the crashing waves on sandy shores, the ever-present sun. A million and one unique moments comprise my memories of the past three weeks. These moments will stay with me long past my voyage in Senegal, and every time I recall one, my heart will swell with love for the people and the places I was lucky enough to cross paths with while here.