Category Archives: Dakar

What Senegal Has Taught Me…

Out and About


It’s August and three years ago (not the exact day) we landed in Dakar to start our adventure here. The first night was horrible and I wanted so badly to not be here but three years later I am thankful for what I’ve learned about myself and what it has taught me.

Dependence- going to a place where you don’t speak the language has a way of making you dependent. As an MK, I prided myself on being independent and having to do things on my own. Can’t do that so much anymore, but being dependent on others creates a community like Dakar Academy. I also learned to appreciate my husband and the wonderful way he takes care of me.

Independence- Wait what? I thought you were dependent.  I am but I have learned that maybe too much.  No language is a very effective excuse, one that I used a lot , but at some point I realized I could take a taxi and go to the grocery store (I would still rather go with Trav but it’s a step).

Heat makes me a horrible person- I am pretty sure my kids are well behaved in class for the most part because I’m so scary during hot season. A little dramatic but true. Hot season makes me a not as pleasant person, which our AC in the bedroom has helped! But nobody should have to sweat just because they are brushing their teeth. Thank goodness after three years it seems to be having a tad (really tad) bit less of an effect on me.

Greetings– in Ecuador greetings are important,  but they feel even more important here. They are a way of giving people dignity by acknowledging them and saying yes I notice you.

Go with the flow- I will always be learning this one and everyone living overseas has to because our flow is different then theirs. Not wrong but different. Learning to go with the flow takes letting go of preconceived ways of doing things and not letting it upset you  (good luck with that!)

I would not be a safe driver here- I love driving in the States. Turn on my radio and cruise down the highway, here not so much. I am pretty sure there would be accidents and lots and lots of anger.

I am actually tougher then I thought- Honestly, moving to Africa was terrifying. I (and my parents) weren’t sure how I would do. We didn’t know if I would be able to survive (heat, smells, etc…). I survived and signed up for two additional years. Who knew??? Travis was a huge part of that and unexpected visits to see family helped too!

Blessed- I am blessed, so incredibly blessed. Blessed to be doing what I love.  Blessed to be surrounded by great people. Blessed to have been here three years.




Filed under Dakar, Julian Life

Summer Plans

We heart summer over here in the Julian household! The sleeping in, the freedom, the being together, and the beach/pool! This summer we are staying in Senegal, which is a little sad for my heart, but is also restful. Are summer plans are as follows:

1. Taking summer courses. Travis and I are excited about our chance to take classes this summer. (Yes, we are nerds!) We are each taking two courses to renew our teaching license. They are classes that are really interesting and applicable to our teaching. I am taking a class called Creating a Respectful, Responsible Learner in your Classroom and I am loving it. Travis is taking a class called Igniting Creativity, Comprehension and Collaboration Through Inquiry, which is exactly what he wants to do in his classroom! We are thankful for this opportunity.

2. World Cup. I am pretty sure that Travis would put this as number one on the list. He figured out that if he watches all the games (which he plans to do) he will have watched 96 hours of soccer, not including overtime. Needless to say, he is pretty excited. I am rooting for Ecuador and any South American team. Travis is cheering for the USA and any African team. Should be interesting!

3. Continued physical therapy and staying fit. I will continue to go to physical therapy and work on my knees. I will be going once a week, which also means Travis and I can have a coffee date downtown, unless the World Cup gets in the way! Also, I want to try to get in shape again, which can be hard to do when I can’t do anything high impact. I found a website called fitness blender that has tons of workouts (cardio, arms, abs,…), including low impact cardio, all for free!

4. Rest and relaxation. We are planning on going to the beach and/or the pool when it is unbearably hot. We also have a beach trip planned with friends, which will include spikeball, good food, and games. I am planning on reading lots and lots of books!

So here’s to a great summer, even though there is no Subway or Starbucks!

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we are the champions…numero dos.

Well, really only Travis is the champion but it went along well with another blog post I wrote so I went with it. Travis plays in a competitive softball league that is run by the American Embassy here in Dakar. The league always ends with a tournament called W.A.I.S.T. Last year, Trav’s team, the Cavemen (old man power is their motto) won the whole thing. Could they do it again? By the title you could probably guess (or infer like I teach my 3rd graders) what happened. They had to go through their rivals, the Embassy team. Dun…dun…dun. All season long the Embassy team beat us. I think we beat them maybe once…so the odds were in their favor. Not so much. Cavemen mercy ruled them, winning 16-2. Boo-yah. That pretty much set us up to make it to the championship, with a little help from one team quitting the whole thing in dramatic fashion. And make it to the championship they did where they hit well, fielded well, and defeated the Embassy once again to carry on the winning tradition.



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Working at the school and not knowing the language makes it hard for me to know the culture around me and learn to love it. I have recently seen some things that have opened my heart.

Last week Travis and I were downtown going to get something to eat and we saw a talibe boy sitting on the curb. He had a pad of paper and some old pens and was drawing a picture. I so wish I carried a box of crayons in my purse so I could have given them to him. It opened my heart.

This weekend Travis was in the village making bricks for a church and I drove four hours to San Louis to visit some friends of mine. As we were driving we passed by a group of little girls. They had tied a rope to the trees and were playing jump rope. Another opening.

While I was with my friends, they had a dedication for a vocational school they have been helping with. At the end of the service the ladies started dancing with such joy and laughter. I loved watching them and the fun they were having. I have been learning little by little to open my eyes and see the good things and to enjoy the experience of being in a different culture than the US or Ecuador and letting go of the comparisons.

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10 Words

In 5 days the first semester will be over and Christmas vacation will start. At the end of the semester, I always look back and think about what has happened. So here are ten words to describe our semester:


1. Challenging– Travis and I are still relatively new teachers and continuing to work on becoming better. Teaching is always a challenging occupation, especially if you want to do it well.

2. Unexpected– We had an unexpected trip to Spain. I had an unexpected ankle problem. An unexpected pet bird. You get the picture…

3. Sports– Travis and I both coached. Travis played handball, softball, and spike ball. We also both played in a volleyball league.

4. Noisy– There is a building being built right behind ours and there is a lot of banging.


5. Communication– Travis and I continued to try and stay connected to our families and friends, even though we are far away.

6. Yummy– Cooking continues to be a fun and important part of our relationship.

7. Meetings– We are working on our accreditation renewal that is coming up so there have been quite a few meetings.

8. Blessed– We are continually made aware of how blessed we are.

9. StudentsThe reason that we are in Dakar. 

10. Dakar– This word refers to all the great and not so great stuff that have to do with living here like water cuts and the heat, but also the school and the people we have met.

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Filed under Dakar, Dakar Academy, Food, Julian Life, Teaching, Travis

Senegalese Awareness Week

This week at DA was Senegalese Awareness Week. It is a week to help us learn more about Senegalese culture and to appreciate the country that has allowed us to live and work here. During the week, we had sand painting, scavenger hunt, the raising of the flag, and a door decorating contest. My class did an acrostic poem about Senegal:


Welcoming us into their country.

Encouraging each other to work hard.


Super hot and sunny.

Eat poulet yassa.

Nuts grow well here.

Exercising is important

Going to places.

African country.

Looking out for family.


The last day was my favorite day because we got to eat Senegalese food in the traditional way around a common bowl. Some groups ate with their fingers, but my group stuck with spoons. They spread out mats in our normal eating area and the students sat around the bowls and ate with one of our national workers. It was a fun time to be together.

Then came the Senegalese wrestling. I don’t know enough about normal wrestling so I can’t really tell you the difference between the two, but it was a pretty fun experience. At the end, some high-schoolers got to try and wrestle the professionals, which was pretty great!

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Overall, it was fun week celebrating the country that we live in!

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cramping my style…

When I think about hot season (which is coming to an end-fingers crossed), I think specifically about the clothes that will make me sweat the least and show the least amount of that sweat.Buying clothes this summer consisted of me analyzing whether this particular item of clothing would be good for hot season. If it wasn’t, then 9 times out of 10 I put it back, unless of course it was too cute to pass up.  And yet, this still happens:


This is a pile of clothes that I deemed too hot, too stuffy, too something…and as “cooler” breezes start coming through I find myself so looking forward to wearing whatever I want without having to think about sweating or not. Hurry up cool season…my cardigans are calling!

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