A Year In Senegal With Diapalante

As the weather won’t let you forget, it’s that time of year again: summertime! Although nowhere near as hot as Senegal, I hope you are all making the most of the British sun. Sadly for me however, this also means that my year in Kaolack with Diapalante is drawing to an end. There’s no doubt that I am heartbroken to be leaving the centre, and all my new friends and family here, but I am also filled with gratitude to everyone who made this experience possible. It is one of the very few instances where unforgettable isn’t an exaggeration – both the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned here will be with me for the rest of my life. I will never be able to completely cover everything I have gained from this year, nor what I have given. However, here is a small selection:

  • Self-Confidence – Being a teacher, and taking charge of a class, will always require a certain amount of self-assurance. However, working at the centre requires a lot more. The nature of the centre means that lessons cannot always be prepared in advance, but you still need to have the confidence to control the class. Throughout the year, teaching at Diapalante has allowed me to develop my confidence enormously, allowing me to be at ease no matter the situation (and no matter the amount of preparation I’ve done!).
  • English – My year in Senegal has made me realise how lucky I am to have English as my first language. It is so easy to take for granted the knowledge that there will be people who speak the same language as you all over the world, and the doors that that communication can open. I am so glad that I have been able to help other people benefit from my language. Knowing English is something which can give people a multitude of opportunities, and I’m happy I have been able to give the chance to access that.
  • Responsibility – Working at the centre, I was put into positions of responsibility over many people, some of whom were older than me. Although definitely a challenge (especially after coming straight from high school!), it was a challenge which made me grow much more as a person. It made me more confident taking charge, but it also made me more sensitive to other people, and their needs. I know that, had I been in a position with less responsibility, I would not have grown nearly as much as I have during this year.
  • Family – Although very cliché, I have been incredibly lucky to have found an amazing family here in Senegal. As well as Master P and his family, I truly see the members of Diapalante Centre, all of the friends I have made in and out of Kaolack, and even previous Diapalante volunteers, as one large family. Everywhere I have been I have been welcomed with open arms. It will be heartbreaking to say goodbye to everyone, but I know that I will always have a home here.

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