A Change of Pace

Trip Start Sep 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 15, 2006

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Sunday, October 1, 2006

I can hardly believe that today is the first of October and that I have already been in Senegal for an entire month! The other students and I had a celebration last night -- celebrating a new month in a new world that has hot showers and does not require sleeping under mosquito nets. I made some phone calls to friends back home, but I didn't even know where to begin with describing my experiences. Being in Saint Louis for the past four days has been a time of reflection and an opportunity to discuss not only what we're doing here right now but also what we see ourselves doing in the future. Travel has become an important part of my life, thanks to my parents being adventurous and willing to explore the world with me.

Although I don't start my Independent Study Project (ISP) period until the month of November, all of the students have been encouraged to begin thinking about what we want to do. Our get-away in Saint Louis has been an excellent opportunity to make connections and initial contacts with potential advisors and experts that can help with our studies. After talking to several people about education, Catholicism, and the church's presence in Senegal, I've decided to center my project around Catholic ministry in a predominantly Muslim country. Catholic schools are by far the best education that money can buy in Senegal, but that's precisely the problem -- one has to have a great deal of money to send their children to private school. Besides schools, the Sisters of St. Joseph de Cluny have opened family planning clinics, have organized aid for persons with disabilities, are working in hospitals, and have opened several orphanages in both Saint Louis and Dakar. I haven't developed much of my project yet, but I do know that I want to return to Saint Louis for a week or two during the ISP period.

This afternoon, some of my friends and I are going to walk on the beach to Mauritania! We had dinner the other night at a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant, which is also one of the main reasons I want to come back to Saint Louis, that overlooks the Mauritanian coastline. How exciting! Now I will be able to say that I've been in two African countries. Tomorrow, we leave to go back to Dakar which should be very interesting because we're now in the month of Ramadan, the holiest month for the Muslim population when everyone fasts between sunrise and sunset. As my family is Muslim, it will be very interesting to break the fast with them at sunset.

Ba beneen yoon! (Until next time).

PS -- Jessica Leigh Stanton, if you are still alive in Mexico, please send me a message via e-mail/snail mail/phone/pigeon... whatever you choose. Thanks.

PPS -- I'll try to upload photos as soon as possible but it might be difficult considering I ruined my camera yesterday while attempting to save someone's sandals from the evil waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe once the sand is out it will work again? But don't worry, the pictures on my photo card are safe!
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