Summer 1 2016 (5/21-6/12)
Senegal, Cultural Connections in Senegal: Causes of Globalization and the Consequences on Systems
Food Sovereignty and Food access
I believe that it would be nearly impossible for someone’s perspective not to shift from just being a citizen of the United States to a citizen of the world. I have always been aware of the fact that there are other people in the world that live differently than I do here; I have friends that have personally come from different countries and now live in the United States. But that is completely different than me being able to say that I have friends and even new family that lives in a different part of the world. I was lucky that the trip that I went on had us stay with families from the area where we did our research, because we were able to become totally engrossed in the experience all day. It was a sad day when we had to leave and our host mother did not want us to leave. Even though she spoke French and no English, and I speak English and no French, the last day at the home, I felt that I understood everything she was saying to me. The people of Senegal welcomed us with open arms and did not want to let us go. I hope to be able to visit my extended family one day again.
With this new bond with people that live totally different everyday lives than we do in the United States, along with the focus that we had through our program, it becomes even harder to turn a blind eye the fact that some parts of the world are impoverished because other parts of the world live to excess, including the United States. The actions and decisions that we make here have a ripple effect that has no bounds, and going on this trip not only exposed me to this idea, but allowed me to live the with the effects that others forced onto this beautiful country. My global perspective as a citizen of the world can no longer allow myself to make decisions as if my decisions do not affect people around the world. With this new perspective,I have a new sense of wanted to serve those who have less because I am fortunate enough to have more than enough.
Without stating the obvious, there were many differences that were apparent in the everyday life I lived while in Senegal. When I woke up in the morning, our host mother always had French bread and tea ready for us. We had a catch a cab to the university because no one had personal cars. In order to buy most things, we could go to street markets were we had to bargain for prices; it was considered rude if you didn’t! I am left handed, and in this country it was considered offensive to use your left hand to do most anything, so I had to learn how to eat with my left hand and had to make sure that I did not pick up items with my left hand to hand over to anyone else. Washing machines and dryers were considered very luxurious, so the house we stayed in did not have any. We had to wash our clothes by hand and hand them on a line to dry them. The last and most different part of my everyday life was using the bathroom. Without giving too much information, the plumbing was very different because they did not want to waste water on toilets because Senegal is part desert. We had to pour water down the toilet after using to wash away the waste.
All of these drastic changes to everyday life seemed as if they were going to be daunting when we got there. But before I even realized it happened, I was largely accustomed to doing everything they way the Senegalese people did. It really is amazing how quickly one can adapt and become comfortable with new routines and lifestyles. I attribute this to the fact that here in the United States, we live in high luxury, often having more than we need. In Senegal, they have everything we could need, and do not live over the top lifestyles.
One of the most fun trips that we took that was not part of the study abroad program was to a nightclub. Now this is something that I have done before in the United States, but because the cultures are very different from here to Senegal, it was really a different experience. Senegal as a country is about 95% Muslim, meaning that Muslin practices and traditions influence most everything in the country. One practice of the Muslim people is that they do not drink alcohol. In the United States, most people drink alcohol when going to night clubs, so it was a different to not see people drinking while there. The type of music that the people of Senegal listen to is very different than music here in the United States, so dancing is different all together as well. Even with these changes, I can say that going to that nightclub was one of the best experiences at a nightclub I have ever had, in any country. Everything was very upbeat and people were enjoying themselves, not worried what others were doing or thinking. Although this was not an academic experience, I believe that learning about all aspects of a different culture are important because there is and always will be so much to learn from all aspects of a different culture.