By Claudia Lupinek

When I was first presented with the opportunity to come to Africa I thought I would experience something way different than I have. I imagined this trip being a cool time to hang out with my friends and explore a place I’ve never seen before. But when I arrived here I was totally blown away with how much I could learn from being in Senegal.

My peers and I have gotten to walk in the shoes of people who work so hard every day for the things they have. The men and women are constantly doing things to help out around the village whether it is building a new hut or pulling up water from the well.

This tribe was abruptly moved from their land–a place where many different crops grew, such as peanuts, corn, sorghum, millet, rice, and fonio. A place where they lived in harmony with the many animals around them. A place where life was just easier. Moved to an area where adjusting is hard, but they did it. They learned new tactics needed to live their everyday lives. How to plow the ground which is like a cement sidewalk, how to collect and store water, and how to deal with the strangers who continuously come and go on the highway that was put right in the middle of their home.

The respect that I have grown for the Ngoniani people is something I don’t think I could have found anywhere else. I know I would be heartbroken if I were taken out of the only place I knew and forced to restart. I am very thankful to the people of the Ngoniani village for allowing me to take part in experiencing an incredible culture in a world I didn’t know existed.

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