Tess Langan was inspired to spend a year between high school and college by New York Times columnist Nick Kristof. So imagine her surprise when Kristof noted her third blog post from Senegal, where she has been sent by Global Citizen Year, in his Twitter feed. Langan, who graduated VHS with the class of 2010, wrote about the culture shock she has encountered as she tried to honor what she had expected Senegalese customs would be. Here’s what she wrote, in part:
Back home in America, my family has a strict no texting at the dinner table policy; offenders may be docked dessert. In Senegal the soundtrack of dinner is laced with the pop ring tone of my twenty-one year old host sister Vivienne’s cell phone. In America, my real sister works her blackberry obsession into unrelated conversations (“Mom, I need a ride to practice—can I get a blackberry?”) and my overzealous younger brother would still text me “hi” from across the room months after he got his first phone. In Senegal, Vivienne has a blackberry and her three year old daughter marches about the house, a cell phone plastered to each ear. In America, it is an unspoken understanding that television and dinner are separate. We do not even have a t.v. within earshot of the kitchen. But in Senegal, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) colors my dinnertime experience.
Langan will be in Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, until November 1. After that, she will work in an orphanage in southern Senegal until next May. You can follow all of Langan’s experiences in Senegal through her blog.