Senegal or PC related

seeing in all directions at the same time

Today marks a year since I got back to the States from Senegal. I’ve seen three close friends get married, driven across the country and up and down the West Coast, settled into California, found a job in video editing, and am making plans for the next few years (grad school!).

I think this year has mostly been a reaction against Senegal—reveling in all the good things that I’m rediscovering, breathing a sigh of relief after all the bad things I left behind. The lists I made last October predicting what I’d miss/not miss has proven pretty accurate.

I don’t miss: the fishbowl life; the boredom-guilt cycle; the crappy food; stupid rules from a malicious administrator; screaming children; the realities of the Third World; sept-places.

I do miss: the volunteer community; my village family; my dog; unstructured time, for adventures; biking through the countryside; making children scream (no, not really. but at the same time… yes!); the village sky at night; thunderstorms; donkeys.

I was thrilled to speak Pulaar on two separate occasions this month—once in a Chicago cab, to a guy from St-Louis, and once at the Bissap Baobab restaurant in San Francisco, where several Mali RPCVs and I went to sample the bissap cocktails, lamb dibi, and maffe with tofu(!!) (we skipped the $16 thiebou dien).

I’ve been trying to call the village lately, more and more out of a real need to hear their voices than from the sense of obligation that I originally felt. No luck yet, the phones are still notoriously unreliable. (I now have some idea of how my mom must have felt when they tried to call me and it just rang and rang or went silent.) It’s sad and frustrating to feel my village family slipping away from my present.

I still catch myself thinking “I wanna go home,” which became a reflexive internal refrain towards the end of my service. I don’t know where I expect that “home” to be, or what I’m waiting for to quiet that small, anxious voice.

I have hours of video from Senegal that I haven’t watched yet, care packages for current volunteers that I haven’t sent, letters to the village that I haven’t written—the excuse of America’s hectic pace only goes so far.

I still don’t know “what I’ve kept with me / and what I’ve thrown away,” and I don’t expect to stop worrying about it any time soon. I also listen to sad music for the sake of indulging in sad music, so pay me no mind. At least no one will be waiting outside my front door tomorrow morning to scream “whitey” at me and demand twenty cents—though I wouldn’t mind waking up to a donkey bray or two.


RTF street cred

It took an extra three years, but I’ve finally earned the right to call myself a film student—I’ve done an unauthorized video shoot in a laundromat.

Parking garage ninjas can’t be far behind.

Senegal or PC related

sad news from Senegal

I found out this week through RPCV email chains that Lamine Ndongo, Peace Corps Senegal’s Safety and Security Officer of four years, died in a car accident on Sunday. He was a great guy, genuinely concerned about all of the volunteers, and he died while out on the job.

The RPCV organization Friends of Senegal and The Gambia is organizing a collection for Lamine’s family—here is Senegal RPCV Marielsie Avila’s email with the information:

Dear Friends,

It is with regret that I inform you of the loss of a dear friend to Senegal PCVs and RPCVs from the last 4 years. Lamine N’Dongo, Safety and Security Officer, died in a car accident on Sunday, driving the PC car near Bakel. [According to another volunteer, “he was driving a PC car when an on-coming car swerved to miss a pothole and ran him off the road. He crashed, with the driver in the passenger seat.” This kind of swerving is very typical in Senegal, and very scary.] The driver was on the passenger seat and is currently in the hospital, injured but stable.

Lamine was a friend to those who knew him. He took care of each of us like we were family. He knew everyone in the police force throughout the country and God forbid anyone messed with us, he would take care of it tactfully and quickly. He believed in Peace Corps and was proud to be part of its mission. [And, as Will Conquest wrote, “He came to Peace Corps in the summer of 2003 with very little English, but through his own tireless work ethic he improved his language skills to the point that he was speaking better then some volunteers.”] He leaves behind a wife and four children, all girls.

We would like to make a collection for his family on behalf of the Friends of Senegal and The Gambia and the RPCV community at large. FOSG will match any funds collected. Some RPCVs already started collecting funds and I’ve invited them to join our collection so we could match the total amount. Any small contribution would be of great help to them.

Please send a check or money order to Dan Theisen to:

Pay to the order of Friends of Senegal and The Gambia
Memo: Lamine N’Dongo’s Family Fund

Daniel Theisen
428 Bowleys Quarters Road
Baltimore, MD 21220

We will wait at least 2 weeks to give people time to send their checks to Baltimore for Dan to process them.

Thank you,

Marielsie Avila-Negron, MPA


you're still here? well then.

Right, so:

Went to Chicago to finish editing a video of the Adobe onAIR bus tour, a.k.a. Geeks On A Bus, which played at the end of the day 2 keynote at Adobe’s MAX conference. It was entertaining to see something I’d worked on on giant screens in front of thousands of people, even if most of them were more interested in getting to lunch.

clare and onAIR bus


Went to a Renaissance Faire to celebrate Doug’s birthday. Dressed up in ridiculous outfits, ate turkey legs, watched jousting, and learned that at renaissance fair(e)s it’s perfectly acceptable for strangers to make admiring comments about other strangers’ breasts.

kids with turkey legs!