New Years Resolutions

I have had the fortune to spend the holidays settling into my hut in the village of Ngianda. There has been so much to do: cleaning, greeting, exploring, practicing language and homemaking to name a few activities. On top of these I have been landscaping my backyard to create a verdant area around my kitchen and bathroom. Already cucumbers, green peppers and carrots are sprouting in my garden, shaded by banana and papaya trees.

There is also much to see. I have been recently exploring the streets of Ngianda, where I always meet new and interesting people. Each day, I aim to go down a street I haven’t visited before. Everyone is eager find out who I am, where I live, and to teach me the names of everything in sight. My family and neighbors in particular have been incredible. They correct my poor speech, tour me around the village and even adjust my water basin on my head.

After a calm News Years spent talking to my family, I have decided on three New Years Resolutions to guide my first year of service. They are to be at home, to learn Seereer, and be the best I can.

Resolution 1: Be at Home

First, I want to be at home in my community. I will make my hut to be a place where I am excited to live by decorating it and growing foods that I love to eat. I will become a part of my family by spending time with them and attending events, such as wrestling matches, with them. Finally, I will become a part of my community by greeting folks and talking to them while going about my day.

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Complete with mat and study are on the front porch

Resolution 2: Learn Seereer

Second, I want to gain basic mastery of the Seereer language. To me, this means I will be able to converse with anyone I speak to and understand nearly everything that is being said to me.

To accomplish this, I will hire a tutor and work with them to improve my skills. Each day I will talk with my family and friends, asking them to correct me and learning from my mistakes. Finally, I will put in at least 30 minutes of dedicated study time each day to practice.

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My Seereer notebook

Resolution 3: Be the Best I Can

Finally, I want to push myself to be the best I can. For me this means exercising regularly, making healthy food choices, and pushing myself to be the Volunteer my village hopes I will be.

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A selfie I snapped carrying water from the well. Precarious!

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4 comments

  1. tbunnyd · January 5, 2016

    Beautiful. Bryce. Love hearing about your adventures. Val Lovelace.

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  2. mom · January 5, 2016

    Nice photo of the water bucket on you head! I bet you will appreciate water coming out of the faucet when you come home! Those are great New Year Resolutions. Can’t wait to see some photos of your produce when they ripen. I’m thinking of you, Bryce, as I’m sitting here looking a the thermometer that says 2 degrees!!! I’m glad you finally have internet. Keep up the good work! Mom 💗

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  3. Barbara Leary · January 10, 2016

    Happy New Year, Bryce! I was so moved by this post and your resolutions and loved seeing your selfie and a smile on your face. You will definitely be the volunteer they all had hoped you would be. What an incredible service you are performing. Ngianda is so lucky to have you. I am not sure if you have the ability to do any traveling, but I will be in Morocco (Chefchouen in the mountains) for a few days in May as part of a trip to Southern Spain with a group of friends. I am sure it is farther than it looks on the map from Senegal to there, but I thought it worth mentioning. More soon! There was a one page article in Down East Magazine about Camp Chewonki that I will try to copy and paste into my next email.
    Love,
    Barbara

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  4. Caroline Leary · January 10, 2016

    Bryce, I am so impressed you are already growing veggies! From what you’ve written, you are already crushing it over there as a volunteer and community member. Keep up the awesome work. I admire what you are doing. We need more Bryce Learys out there 🙂
    -Caroline

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