Sunday, July 6, 2008

Life After Senegal...

I have been in America for just a few days now, and already I know that this is going to be a big adjustment this summer. I am determined not to be constantly comparing everything that is to come with my time in Senegal. This last year was lovely and amazing and difficult and so much, so much. However, I don’t want to walk around thinking “oh man, if only I were in Senegal. Senegal was so much better and easier and etc.” No, I am determined to take the lessons I learned and to fuse them with my new life, instead of being constantly nostalgic and sad that I cant have what I had. Senegal taught me lessons and came at exactly the right time that I needed it, but this is the new step forward.

I’m determined to tell about my year with humility and truth. The prospect of telling my stories over and over again is daunting, but some of the stories need to be told, and luckily I have my photos to recall memories.

I’ve only cried twice so far. Once when I left my friends in St. Louis, and once when I went to Sendik’s Supermarket with my mom. I don’t know why, but I just stepped through the sliding doors and saw all the food on all the shelves, as far as the eye could see! So much selection! Enough to feed the whole world! Mangoes for $1.50 each! I just couldn’t contain myself and my mom had to take me home. I’ve heard this is a normal reaction, but I really thought it wouldn’t faze me. Silly girl. I don’t want to be dramatic or emo, but I guess closure comes slowly for me.

I’m a List kinda gal, so here are my first thoughts from this side of the Atlantic. None of these are complete lists, and I’ll be updating occasionally. Mostly to sort out my own flipping thoughts:

My Initial Reactions:
America is so green! And chilly!
Everyone is so white
The houses are so huge and spread apart
Real coffee is way too strong for me now
My body processes foods in different ways now. I cant handle processed sugar or basically anything with chemical additives.
My family has changed in little tiny ways that they don’t realize. But, on the whole, they are the same old crazy Skroch clan. Gardening is still a really big deal to my mom.
I want to see all my loved ones RIGHT AWAY….but I have no cell phone and I’m trying to pace myself
The Fourth of July is quite an amazing American holiday. It is still definitely my favorite holiday of the whole year. I got to spend the day with my loves Molly, Krista, and Autumn. We were lying on the blanket watching the Franklin Fireworks (I love this small town thing) and yelling all these different things that make America great: “Community!”, “Democracy!”, “Checks and balances!”, “Transparent voting procedures!”, “THE ALAMO!”
Gluten-free beer? What??
I have way too much crap. One of the first things I did while unpacking: I went through my closet and cleaned out a huge portion of clothes and shoes and stuff that I don’t need to use. Anybody want to raid this stuff? It’s yours, it’s free.
It costs 2 cents per minute to call America on Skype. It costs 25 cents to call Senegal.
I have forgotten how to drive.
My guitar and I have a love that spans both space and time. I shall always be faithful to her.

The Lessons I’ve Learned this Year:
Patience. Not everything moves at a pragmatic American pace
Work is worship, and very valuable.
Peace begins with listening and pardon.
Prayer embraces the world; connects all of humanity
My family is my sanity (and insanity sometimes), no matter how spread out we may be.
There is nothing more important than people, including my own plans and busy schedules.
“Soak it up.” –Meghan Alaska
Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
There is so little that I need. Even small amounts of food are satisfying. Snacking is not necessary.
Quality, not quantity
Traveling is THE BEST education. The world is a beautiful and cruel mistress.
The value of fruits and vegetables!
I learned to be grateful for electricity, water, internet, beds, and sitting toilets! No more peeing on my feet!
The purpose of my life is to work in conflict zones in peace building. How?
I am capable of giving and receiving Love, and this makes all the difference.
Fasting is powerful and important
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
You must first know how to be a servant in order to be a leader. This is the only way you’ll truly understand how to lead.
Ne jamais abandonner. Never give up.
The beauty of a cup of coffee in a white cup and one teeny square of dark chocolate.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury, pardon;where there is doubt, faith;where there is despair, hope;where there is darkness, light;where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
-The Prayer of St Francis.
A monk showed this to me and I repeated this prayer almost every morning.
Everybody’s got their something. Don’t hate. All of humanity, a la base, is looking for the same things in life.
No worries, only prayers.
There is no better opportunity to change than right now.
There is a reason for all of this.

Goals/To-Do list for the Summer & Beyond:
Write my research thesis
Spend time up north with my grandma
learn to bake Gluten-Free bread and granola
Live for Quality
Drive stick
Print my best photos
FIND A JOB for the summer and the schoolyear!!! Anybody have any leads?
Find and apartment for 2nd semester
Hang with Beth
Hang with Steve
explore this new running trail in my town
reconnect with my guitar
Go to Meghan Alaska’s wedding in Seattle?
Dentist and Doctor’s appointments! Hooray! For serious…
Set up my cell phone again
Summer project reunion?
Do some intense virus scans on my computer, and camera.
Find a camera for Becka’s wedding
Reply to this backup of emails and facebook messages
wash my Senegalese clothes by hand.
More long term…
Practice Arabic regularly again
Take Microsoft Office classes
learn capoeira. Also, learn how to spell it.
learn HTML
work out my classes and my individual major
Find balance in my life.

Can this all be done? I’m not even sure if there are enough hours in the days to do all that I want/need to do. One foot in front of the other, n’est-ce pas?

Right before I left St. Louis, someone very dear reassured me that I do indeed have all I need to face the next challenge. They are right.

Close your eyes…
Hold your breath…

To finish up the year...

Here are some images from the rest of the year:
My best friend Molly came to visit! She got to meet the infamous Jeff and my brother Moussa in Dakar.

She also got to see what Senegalese soirees were like at our Weekend du Village..the giant weekend-long celebration for our group of dorms.

I spent a lot of time in this comfortable corner.

My roomate Aminata finished her thesis, finally!

Ahmadou Bamba came to visit St. Louis.

I learned how to " 'armonize" for peace building.

Jessica and I went on an improvised Refugee Camp Adventure to Dagana, amidst fistfights, sand tornadoes, and african thunderstorms.

I became an official part of my church family at Vie Nouvelle.

And, finally, I said goodbye to UGB for the last time.

Images of Morocco...finally

Saturday, July 5, 2008

When it's all been said and done

When it's all been said and done
there is just one thing that matters:
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

Today I walked into a grocery store and burst out crying. My mom had to take me home. Is this transition going to be harder than I expected?

Also, Beloveds, I do want to contact all of you asap. Please be patient with me...I'm still trying to put my life together and unpack. Also, I dont have a cell phone yet. You each are individually so important to me, I have not forgotten you!

Time to bosser. Here we go...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Home of the Brave, Land of the Free

I'm back in America, after a lifetime of travels. Literally.

Life is beautiful. The grass is green. The air is crisp and clear. People wear shorts.

Today is the 4th of July, my favorite holiday. What a wiiiiieeerd day. I'm tired but cant fall asleep. I'm going to spend some quality time with my family, the Batcave, and Blue, my guitar.
I'm putting off my responsibilities until tomorrow. Today, mangy nos.

I miss Senegal so much it hurts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

D'nalu Macan

I'm back in Dakar, having left St. Louis in the middle of the night, in the middle of the pouring rain (of course). Saying goodbyes to my loves on campus was one of the hardest things my heart has ever had to do.

I came back to my host family's house only to find that my old room is occupied. I'm not sure where I'm going to sleep tonight in Dakar, but grace has brought me safe this far...

Tomorrow I'm going surfing and spending my last day at the beach, then I fly out at 11 pm. I arrive at 2:30 pm on the 3rd. I'm ready. It's time. But it's heartbreaking in a serious way.

More later. This is too sad.