This piece of poetry made its debut on the inside cover of my Workshop Statistics textbook. The rain was pelting the windows and the lecture was full of complicated graphs and long equations and all I wanted was to be out of that American classroom and back in sunny West Africa.

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I carry my books and my coffee

In the hands that used to swing free at my sides

My black boots step over a puddle

and I remember how it felt

to have my bare heels sink

into the hot sand

on the beaches of home

where the sun is so bright

and the sky is so blue

it hurts.

But here the sky is gray

And the sun is shy

And the ground is cold and hard and wet.

But in my mind,

the squirrels are monkeys

the evergreens are baobabs

and the asphalt is the fine red dirt of Popenguine

And as I walk on the sidewalk and pass a fountain

I am really on a dusty winding path in Ethiolo

passing a well

where the women go to gossip and fill their basins

with cool water that refreshes the soul

and as I take my seat in class,

I hear the echo of drums

made of wood and animal skins

and I can almost see the people dancing to the music,

to the rhythm of the djembe

which turns out only to be

my own heart beating in my chest

Because all I think about is

home.

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Some days are harder than others. That day was a hard day. Senegal has always felt like home to me, but the longer I live here, the less it does. But at the same time, I can’t imagine ever feeling like I belong here in the United States. It’s all confusing.

 I’m beginning to realize that no matter where I am, I will always have places and people to miss. Even though it’s difficult, getting to know and love these people and places is worth the heartache that follows. So I just have to take the bad days with the good days and learn to love who I have and what I have wherever I am. These days I’m still learning.

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