Diversity Abroad – Blog

Realizing that Little Things Can Mean so Much in Senegal

The kids in the village always wanted to take selfies

The kids in the village always wanted to take selfies


October 24 , 2016
During my time in Senegal, I had the opportunity to visit a village in the suburban part of Dakar. We had the opportunity to meet with so many little kids from the village. They were extremely excited to have us visit them. As soon as the heard the jeeps, they would run and follow us.

We got a tour of their village. We saw the main kitchen, which was a hut with a fire pit made out of cut wood. They would place pots and pans on top of the wood in order to cook. They did not have any toilets. Recently, however, our tour guide said that the United States built some cement walls as stalls.

The kids saw us take out our phones, Go Pros, and cameras. They would ask us if we could take pictures with them. They loved to take selfies and were extremely curious about how to take a photo. Many of the kids that I sat with, would point to my phone or make hand gestures to show that they wanted to take a photo. All of the kids had the biggest smiles on their face.

Most of us didn’t know we were going to a village. However, a few people did know and brought small gifts for the kids. Someone brought a Costco pack of gum and distributed it among the kids. Another person brought a soccer ball. Semester at Sea brought 1,000 toothbrushes as part of a “Smile” project organized with another organization. I really wish I was able to bring something as well.

In this photo the girl wanted to take a photo of our hands

In this photo the girl wanted to take a photo of our hands

The part that impacted me the most was seeing the kids ask some of the students if they could keep their reusable water bottles. One woman said to my friend “I really like this (pointing at the water bottle) can I have it for me and my baby. The students felt uncomfortable and kindly declined because they would need their water bottles for the rest of the voyage. It made me realize that something (the water bottle) I never really thought of being as significant for me was something that could be really useful for people who are poor and living in third world countries. Just a note, the average income a month for people in Senegal is $80 a month. However, the people living in this village did not work at all, but would make bracelets and other souvenirs to sell to visitors. I hope that when I return to the US, I can find a way to send a lot of water bottles to Senegal and other parts of Africa.

After this experience, I have been truly grateful for the life I have; being able to live in the United States, being able to have working parents who can support me, being able to go to college, and being able to work while I go to school while buying the things that I need and the things that I want. Most importantly, I’m thankful for being able to sail on this voyage and make relationships with people throughout the world so that I can see how other people live and try to make a difference.

The kids loved to take selfies

The kids loved to take selfies!