We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Alisa, another amazing AUA volunteer just left on June 6 for her year long excursion to Senegal. She will check in with blog posts throughout her experience abroad. Here are her pre-departure thoughts and musings:
Phew! What a week. Yesterday I graduated from Bates College with a B.S. in
Anthropology. I now have less than five days to unpack and repack before I move to Senegal for one year to volunteer with Tostan International, a non-governmental organization committed to empowering African communities to cultivate positive social change based on respect for human rights (tostan.org). Needless to say, I’m a little preoccupied.
Having studied abroad in Dakar and fallen in love with Senegalese culture, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to return and build on my experience personally and professionally. Aside from going over my ever-extending to-do list, I’m engrossed in
thoughts about all the things I want to do and learn that I didn’t get a chance to last time. This list includes, but is not limited to, joining a hip-hop dance troop, cooking cebujen (a delicious fish and vegetable dish) all by myself, and teaching my host sisters how to swim.
However, I also have more serious matters on my mind. Mainly, how I am going to connect my work as Assistant to the Programs Officer at Tostan with the mission of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors in blog posts that are engaging and as fun to read as
they are informative. In addition to participating in AUA’s forum, I am also keeping a personal blog for friends and family. I have never blogged before, and as an Anthropologist, I am always concerned about misrepresentation. I intend to keep AUA’s mission of promoting tolerance and understanding between America and the Muslim world as my main objective in both blogs. But how can I write about my experience and guarantee that I am not misrepresenting individuals, Islam, or Senegalese culture? I can’t!
I take this question very seriously. With power comes responsibility, and having been honored with the opportunity to act as an Unofficial Ambassador, I at least have to try. Unfortunately, I am no longer within the protective realm academia. Time to put four
years of intense knowledge acquisition to the test!