Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Off

Today is the day. My bags are almost packed. My reading is almost done. My excitement is almost contained. Only in the last day, have I begun to feel a little apprehension about whether I am prepared. Already this summer, I have traveled extensively. Each time I tried to remember a lesson about what I could do better next time. Take smaller bills and coins, for example, or take plenty of lotion and sunscreen. It doesn't do to run out on longer trips. I learned that it will be worth the weight of carrying my 15 inch laptop so that I can create documents as I prepare lessons, rather than deal with the slower and less equipped netbook. I will take a smaller bag for day trips so I don't have to lug my bigger backpack everywhere. Relying less on my cell phone has prepared me for international travel where I will not be able to use one. I know I could go and upgrade mine to get a global access card, but it will still be expensive, and I can simply use the internet, email, my blog, and Skype to stay in touch with my family and friends.

Why do most people say, when I tell them where I will be going, to "stay safe" and "be careful"? Yes. I have done some research on the area, the climate, the people, and culture of Senegal. I have read other traveler's blogs as well. For a first trip, I think I am as prepared as I can be, but I will learn, on this trip, things that I will do differently and better "next time". Since the likelyhood is that I will not be able to return to Senegal in my lifetime, I hope that what I learn can be useful to you or someone you know, who may have a similar opportunity in the future. I'm off this afternoon. By tomorrow I will be in Boston for three days of orientation and training. I do feel a little like I'm stepping off a cliff into the unknown, but I wouldn't change this chance of a lifetime for anything. I am taking that step. Come along via this blog. Share my adventure.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The following link will take you to a 52 minute podcast in which the discussion tandems the book, Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind, by Curtis Keim. The book is required reading for the study tour on which I am about to embark. At 52 minutes, this podcast is not for casual followers, but for people who really do want to delve into American misconceptions about Africa. Perhaps you can start the podcast and listen while you fold laundry or sort your recycling. To the brave few - ENJOY!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Are You Going to Africa?

One of the most frequent questions I get when I tell people I am going to Africa is, "Why? Is this a mission trip?" I explain that I will be studying several aspects of the West African country, Senegal, including culture, art, religion, history, government, geography, educational systems, and current issues. I say that my mission is to bring back what I learn to my students, my school, my district, and my community. The next thing friends want to know are the specific details of how the agenda will work, where I will be staying, etc. Happily, a recent communique from "headquarters"
introduces a website that thoroughly describes the project. Should you have any questions about "why" after browsing its various pages, I will be surprised.

I invite you to click on this url address to find out more about this project.