By Philip Robinson
A week ago, there was a chance that I would not even make it to Senegal. There were obstacles in my way that made the trip more imaginative than realistic and it even came to a point where I almost gave up on the trip entirely.  However, with the help of my sister Jada and my mentor Nancy, I was able to turn the trip into reality.  Before I knew it, I was sitting on my very first plane heading to the long-awaited destination (where I’ve wanted to go since I was a freshman), Senegal.

Being a kid born and raised in the city with little travel experience, the trip so far has been more than I have ever seen in my life.  I have learned so much on this trip already.  But out of all the things, what stood out to me the most was how appreciative people are in any given situation.  Back in America, it is too easy to forget about or take for granted the things that we have.  At points in time, I fall victim to this trend.  Here in Senegal and in the village of Niognani, they don’t seem to do this.  They take the time to appreciate the little things:

  1. Sitting in a circle eating and talking
  2. Playing games outside with each other
  3. Tea time, together
  4. Walking together
  5. Hanging out in groups
  6. Discussing what’s going on in the world
  7. Sharing a smile


When they pause to appreciate, it helps them to display more hospitality towards one another and the connection between the people is stronger than any bond I have ever seen.  I have been able to join this same pausing during our time here.  One such moment was when Coach Shaf took Olivier, Connor, one of the village kids (Connor’s main man, Mamoudou), and me to a small hill across the road from the village. The hill was incredible – beautiful views, volcanic rocks, and baboons (which luckily we didn’t have to see up close). Along the walk, we came across a ledge and looked over the entire village and then some.  The view was so much more than an array of trees and a pretty blue sky – it was a moment to pause and appreciate the little things that make this village so unique, to pause just like the people of Niognani:

  1. The sounds of villagers talking and laughing
  2. The two lane highway that shapes their existence
  3. The smell of food coming from fireplaces
  4. The sounds of drums in the distance
  5. The structure of family compounds
  6. The rhythm of drums and the Mandinka language

9 responses to “Little Things”

  1. Robin Avatar

    How well timed your essay is. I am thankful for you. You remind me to appreciate all that I am so lucky to have in my life – including seeing you grow to be such a wonderful, observant young man.

  2. Betsy Greene Schaefer Avatar
    Betsy Greene Schaefer

    Lovely post, Philip. I hope you will share more when you return. I would love to sit and share time with you. Question for the group: How can we do more of this on the daily at Christchurch? How can we Be together?

    Also, please pass along this message:
    To Kekouta and the people of Niognani…I send my heart ♥ to you this year. I send my heart first, it yearns to spend time with you and wishes it was there now. Save a place for me. And When I come will you teach me your music? Thank you for taking care of my Love year after year… You all mean so much to him.

  3. Dcola Avatar

    Thanks a lot for that deep image!
    Your explaination of appreciation makes me contemplate, not what I have that I should appreciate, but what I don’t have because of what Charlene wrote about. What gets in the way of appreciating all that we have? Social media, over consumption, not participating in making our food and other needs, climate controlled easy conditions, flipping a switch and having the life blood of modern stuff? How do we balance all these amazing gifts and have what you are feeling in the village?

  4. Kathy and Dave Kreider Avatar
    Kathy and Dave Kreider

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your posts about this wonderful country. How lucky you all are to have this special experience and to share it with the people of Senegal. It sounds like you have al learned so many important life lessons. I look forward to reading and hearing more about the trip.

  5. Becca Pope Avatar
    Becca Pope

    Remind Flan to get me something!!

  6. schuyler1226 Avatar

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Please tell Latane we are so thankful he is on this trip and learning so much. And so excited to see him on Sunday!

  7. Lisa Gordon Avatar
    Lisa Gordon

    Perfect timing for your post Phil as we take time to pause this day in the US and be thankful. We have so much to learn, as you shared, from the example of the people of the Senegalese village who take time to pause and give thanks, not just for one day, but for the gift of each and every moment of each day! Thank you guys for sharing your experience with us. Looking forward to hearing more when you return.

  8. jbyersccs Avatar

    A Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you Seahorses far from home! Seems that you are surrounded by friendship, good will, and the true spirit of community. I hope you are sharing our Thanksgiving tradition there in the village and cooking up a feast for your hosts!

  9. jrhomer Avatar

    Phil, I’m so grateful that everything and everyone came together so that you could take this amazing trip! Thank you for reminding me about the little things. In the end, the little things are my favorite things, and sometimes things get moving so fast and furious that I forget about them. Thank you, Phillipe!

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