Fellows' Blog Archives

Cultural Exploration: All Posts

dakar ICO (75)

My Answer
by | September 26, 2014

“How is Africa?”
That’s a loaded question, and definitely a hard one to answer. I’ve only been here for three weeks, but I’ll say that it’s everything you can think of in the most extreme form, but nothing you would expect. There are no subtleties. Whether you like it or not, the atmosphere is loud and makes sure that you are present in the moment to experience it for what it is.
When it rains, it pours down on the rooftops and wakes you up in the middle of the night. It’s more inconvenient than comforting, like it was for…

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4. Roller Coaster Rides
by | September 24, 2014

First of all: Sheep.
Now that that is taken care of -
Dakar. Dakar seems to be a good place to start. It’s where I’ve spent my first two weeks in Senegal and yet I still cannot seem to put a finger on what exactly Dakar has done to me. Done for me is different. It’s a test run for what my long-term host site will be like. So basically, everything I do here is practice for when I really need to make friends with the neighbors, connect with my family, and find the best stands to buy mangos from.…

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by | September 24, 2014

On a clear Saturday, three friends and I hailed a cab to take us to “el Teleférico.” I’m not quite sure what that translates to, but our understanding was that we were headed to the base gondola of volcán Pichincha. And luckily, this isn’t one of my many stories where the cab driver has no clue what I’m asking for! That day, we were going to summit this volcano. We rode the gondola up, not nearly to the top. And we were off! We leave the gondola to follow the winding trail up and down this dirt path surrounded by…

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On Mastering the Art of Discomfort
by | September 24, 2014

The other day we were asked to describe a time when we felt our most healthy, in body and mind, and when we felt the most satisfied. I picked out several examples, but none felt as real as now. While I might have made a few too many stops at the panederia on my way home, I have never been so alive as I am right now. I wake up to the challenge of speaking a language I have not yet mastered, I am always aware of where my backpack is and who is looking at it, which is very…

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Why Expectations Are Good
by | September 24, 2014

Since 8th grade, I have backpacked at least 45 miles each summer, so when my friends and I decided to hike the volcano, Pichincha, one Saturday afternoon I felt confident in my abilities. However, as we rode up to the base of the mountain in el Teleferico (basically a ski lift) and the air was already difficult to breathe in, my mind quickly changed. As I huffed and puffed up the mountain my friends jokingly never let me forget my how confident I had previously been. Three hours of uphill climbing later, we reached what was supposed to be the top, and found ourselves engulfed in…

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The bigger picture
by | September 21, 2014

I found myself lost in the middle of Quito. We were five gringos with maps out trying to find the next point on the map to check off for the chance to win a mystery prize at the end of the race.
Task 1: Find a place for “Almuerzo” that costs no more than 2.75$. We must have walked by this same place about 2 or 3 times. Making indecisive decisions, not truly knowing where we were, stoping in to just any old place on a “not so safe” looking road, didn’t seem like a good idea.
What We Found:…

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In A Relationship with Life
by | September 18, 2014

September 16th, 2014
It has been a month since I left home in Malaysia and already so much has taken place. I want to share it all – families, training, failures, triumphs, conversations, mosquito bites, mangoes, inspirations, marriage proposals, tears, dances, quirky language teachers, baobabs et cetera – but I’m afraid I have no idea where to begin or how I will stop!
Two weeks ago, in one of the evening training sessions, the Senegal Cohort had to come up with our personal visions for the year. We had just gotten back from our heavy Senegalese lunches at home and…

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