Off to “Rural Visits” in Kedougou this weekend! Where is Kedougou you might ask and why the heck am I travelling once more after my weekend in Mbour and Saly? Well, let me explain.
First off, Kedougou is a rural region in the southeastern part of Senegal. It will take me and the 5 other CIEE students approximately 12 hours to get there in a “sept-place” ( a renovated Peugot station wagon with “7” seats-a tight squeeze), this is also not considering travelling with a student who is suffering from a bladder infection-can you say “pit stop, please” in French? Once in Kedougou, we will spend our first night at a Peace Corp Volunteers regional house with our PCV host before we set out to our sight the next morning. From there, I’m unclear how we are getting to our actual village sight-the other 4 students in the Kedougou region will be biking to their village (how cool!) but I do know that I will be 90km outside of Kedougou and only 10km from Guinea! I might just have to cross the border at some point during my trip to add Guinea to my list of countries. You never know…
For my “rural visit”, I am partnered up with another CIEE student who, although doesn’t know me that well yet, will soon come to find out my love of musical theater show tunes, bad jokes, and car ride games- I bet you feel bad for her already. We will be working in “small-business” (whatever that means) with a Peace Corps Volunteer named Tatiana and learning about her life as a PCV for the past year. This will be an awesome, minute taste of what it means to give 2 ½ years to living in a foreign country, assisting people, and most likely learning an indigenous language, and this could make all the difference when I decide whether to apply for the PC after college. It has always been a goal of mine to accomplish after undergrad and before grad school but now I will be able to see if I think I have what it takes. Sure, I’m not going to get that much exposure in merely 5 days-2 of those are basically traveling-but having absolutely no running water nor electricity will allow me to be stripped of the material senses and distractions so that I can see myself clearly and just think. Of course I will throw in my “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” book in there as some comfort and entertainment, but I’m also looking forward to lying beneath the stars that aren’t existent in Dakar and doing as Simba did in the “Lion King”-remembering the great kings that came before us. Hahaha.
To say I’m excited is an incredible understatement. For past CIEE students, most have said that their “rural visits” are their favorite part of the program and I am going forth with not just the same expectations, but an open and positive mind that this experience will indeed change my life.