When I thought about going to my site in Cabrousse, Ziguinchor, I was afraid. Afraid because I felt like I was lost because my friends, with whom I spent training and who became my family and shared my goals and dreams, were far among many others. However, I was ready to move on. I wanted to actually gain some real world experience. In high school I played football, worked in student government, but none of that seemed to touch on the experience for which I was looking. I still wanted to break the bubble that was my high school, college and try to really understand what I wanted to do in the world. I mean, really, how can we expect an 18 year-old know what to do in their life, much less become a volunteer? I did not even know how.
I still remember when I told my parents I wanted to join this program called CorpsAfrica. The immediate response was « Absolutely YES. » A conversation of six hours then followed. For them to be a volunteer for a year will be an experience with the potential to be more informative in my life. And that is exactly the case. I currently live in a 99% Christian community, a shift from my 99% Muslim community back home. Think about it a minute. My program could not have designed a more perfect reversal for me. Apart from culture, perspective and hands on work in the forest, the most important part of this whole thing is my ability to build an identity for myself. I could destroy identities I had previously created and grow and reinvent an identity far from my cultural influences and build an authentic and a true reflection of who I am.
I have come to learn and speak a new dialect. I have come to have friends around the world. I have come to learn and love the Diola business of cultivating rice. But above all, I went from being an ordinary child of Dakar to a passionate adult with a global perspective ready to dive headfirst into higher education and to make the world a better place around him.