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In Afric-aah

When you tell people you’ve volunteered on your gap year you can’t help but cringe at the thought that you’ve just become another stereotypical public school child who wanted to “find themselves.”

Well there we have it, I went to a public school and I worked for nothing for a month in Africa in the hope of “finding myself.” So as well as fitting into the stereotype of being a bicycle riding revolutionary student living in South Manchester I snuggly fit into the “gap yahhh” stereotype too. But to be honest, I don’t really give a shit. And here’s a few reasons why…

A month in French speaking Senegal working full time (for nothing) at a local radio station was by far one of the most eye opening, rewarding and magical times I have and ever will have the chance to experience.

I grabbed the metaphorical bull by its horns and lived in what can only be described as an upper class slum, ate goat meat which can only be compared to cardboard and took the bins out the way the locals do, which consisted of throwing my waste in the sea!

I make it sound like I’m ungrateful for my time spent in West Africa, you couldn’t be further from the truth. I fell in love with everything: the culture, my host family (I contemplated stealing one of the children and bringing her home to my mum as a present but then the concept of customs and laws came to mind), the music, the weather and even now when I think about the cockroaches a sense of warmth comes over me. I’m lying obviously – about the cockroaches, everything else is true.

Above all, volunteering abroad allowed me to experience something that was entirely out of my comfort zone that nobody or anything in the UK could have ever taught me. So the moral of the story is: I might not have “found myself” but I found a best mate and I had a bloody good time.

Tags: Volunteering

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hattie pearson

Former Head of Communications at FUSEFM.
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