Of the 791 (or so) days that I will spend in Senegal, I've done one. This seems like a small feat, until I zoom out and pan over the bigger picture of my Peace Corps process, which started about two and half years ago with an application. Getting myself safely onto Senegalese soil required a lot more than I anticipated when I started the paperwork back in the summer of 2007; it meant lots of perplexing decisions, self-reflection, and -- as is the nature of any meaningful decision -- the forfeit of much that is dear to me. The last month has been particularly enlightening in this regard, as I've said one bittersweet goodbye after another to family and friends. Finally, I made it to staging in DC, where I met and befriended my fellow volunteers. And then - at long last - came the final airplane flight (direct from DC to Dakar) and the rigors and immigration and customs. Two hours after our 6 AM landing in Senegal, we reached the town and Thies and the Peace Corps training center, where we promptly collapsed for long naps that carried us straight into the middle of our first hot West African day. After French language interviews and medical reviews, we had a long, long drum circle/dance fest with local musicians, romping and stomping until we had sand up to our kneecaps and had gotten a chance to witness all of the trademark Senegalese moves the locals could come up with.
So as I sit here on this first evening, I realize that the bridges I've crossed thus far deserve their own reflection and self-satisfied nod, for being here really is a big part of the battle. Of course, there is so much to come, and thank goodness for that. The bridges and battles that await me will, needless to say, take on a character that is different from those in the past, but they will no doubt build on each other and contribute to who I am -- which is the exciting part. We can travel all over the world, up and down and back and forth a million time, and we still maintain our personal constitution; in fact, we realize and develop who we are with each tough decision, difficult goodbye, or weak moment. For this reason and so many more, I am thrilled to be here and excited for the days, weeks, and months to ahead.
We'll be here at the training center for another four days before moving in with nearby home-stay families. I hope to check in again soon! To all of you, THANK YOU for listening.