Fellows' Blog Archives

Cultural Exploration: All Posts

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Week On Senegal #1: On Food
by | October 13, 2014

The wise King Solomon once wrote:
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 8:15
I like to playfully interpret this verse as: Food is the best thing in ever. So when my Senegalese mother says “Kaay Añ!” (Wolof for “come eat lunch”), I get ecstatically happy no matter how bad a day I might have had. It’s lunchtime. Glorious…

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Where I Live
by | October 9, 2014

Imagine you’re in Quito. Imagine you’ve just arrived on a plane from wherever you’re from. Imagine getting on a bus and heading East. Imagine driving through the valleys of Cumbaya and Tumbaco as you leave the city, and then imagine climbing the Andes mountains until you get so high nothing grows. Then, very suddenly, you’ll find you aren’t going uphill anymore. Suddenly, you’re going down and you’re going really far down. Suddenly, the yellow grass becomes bushes, and the bushes become trees. The yellow becomes green, and the rivers become bigger. The leaves become bigger. Everything becomes bigger and greener,…

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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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Something.
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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