Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Beginning and The End

I got up bright and early this morning to leave the training center for the last time. I wasn't traveling alone on this trip, I was accompanying my replacement, Stanzi, to see her new home. She and I will be in Bambey until Tuesday touring around a really just enjoying all that there is to offer. It is exciting and encourages a lot of retrospection on my part. I remember seeing Bambey for the first time and, simultaneously, the city looked unique and indistinguishable from what I'd already seen of Senegal. I remember all of the questions I had so I'm trying to preempt them or at least answer them as well as I can. I honestly seems like just yesterday when I walked from my new house, down the main street, met Matar for the first time, and continued into town. I can't believe that my two years are up and that this is now Stanzi's new house, my old house; her first time meeting Matar, one of my last times with him.

Today we did a basic walking tour just so she could start orienting herself. We walked through the market to visit my vegetable lady while causing quite a scene the entire time (two Americans! Ridiculous!). At one point several women gathered round to exclaim how amazing it was that I was Kira (my ancienne volunteer)'s replacement and I was standing next to my replacement! Shocking! Amazing! SO MANY GENERATIONS OF VOLUNTEERS! Every vendor we've seen has also made sure that I told Stanzi she should shop with them.

We also visited Matar and I showed her all of the different designs. It seems like she has a ton of great ideas already - I'm so excited to see how the artisan network and Matar's product line grows!

Most importantly of the day was her introduction and interactions with the family. We walked in and there was a huge to-do because she was here, I'd come back from a long trip, and Awa (my host sister who was studying in Algeria) came back and I saw her for the first time today. She needed a Senegalese name so I told my host family and my host mom and dad thought about it. They finally suggested Khady because they know how close I am to the little Khady already in my house. After deciding that it wouldn't be too confusing to have two "Khady Falls" in the house, Stanzi got her new name! At the time, little Khady wasn't home but I was anxious to see how she would react to the new toubab that I had promised her. She was definitely shocked that the new toubab was here and was actually a real person. I think it took her even more by surprise when she learned that they shared the exact same name. Throughout the course of the day, however, little Khady went from being abnormally shy to her normal, sassy, bossy self. By this evening she was taking turns climbing all over Stanzi and I. I'm really happy that my host family seems to excited and welcoming of Stanzi. I had a feeling they would be but it's great to see that my replacement will be well taken care of for her two years.

One last thing, I had my last girls' group meeting today with the core group of girls and boy was that sad. It was really exciting to introduce them to Stanzi and to listen to them talk about what they want to do with her next year. Salamata (my favorite) even came early and gave me a pair of shoes which is so unbelievable nice, especially considering how poor her family is. She and I didn't have a ton of time to talk but she told me that her sister asked her dad if Salamata could live with and work for her sister for the summer. I'm a little worried that she won't be able to come back to school but she seems to think she will - I hope she's right. Saying goodbye to my little group of girl scouts was sad. They haven't been my largest project but they've become like members of my Senegalese family. I was getting a little choked up when thanking them for helping me and being so kind and welcoming to me.

But! Enough about today from my perspective... you should all go to Stanzi's blog ( and read about her first Bambey day.


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