I wanted to write my reflection on my experience a few months after my trip. I wanted to see what would stay with me. I didn’t expect so much time to pass before I wrote, but so much has stayed.
First of all...Senegal is the land of Teranga indeed. I have never been more warmly welcomed to a place, not even in my own native country. There is a generosity from the heart that was spontaneous and expansive; students would draw pictures for us, teachers welcomed us into their classrooms, everyone shared. There was a sense that everyone was in it together.
Second…what a wonderful little school Abdoulaye Mar Diop is. Every teacher was doing an incredible amount of work despite political pressures and inconsistent resources. They cared, they improvised and they taught. I was very impressed with the level of the curriculum and the knowledge of the students. The classrooms were crowded but the students were so well behaved and on task. They were also seemed happy to be at school, which is not something I get to see very often. It motivates me so much to stay connected with the school and to help in any way I can.
Third….there was a sense of purpose. We met so many people who were doing so many good things, from the educators to the people in the Education Ministry, university students, NGOs, USAID and the US Embassy. It was so wonderful to see that most of the time hope and excitement seemed to win out over frustration. To me there was a sense that they were purposefully creating their country. Of course, the path would be messy, but there were a lot of people working toward what is good.
Towards the end, it was one of the most difficult goodbyes I’ve ever had to say. It was hard to leave, and I do hope I get to go back and that I get to see everyone again. They found a place in my heart. I will forever cherish the poem a Senegalese student wrote of the TGC fellows.
And I hope the trees that Shiona and I planted grow.