We are thankful that a crowd of Fulbright Scholars joined us for an early Thanksgiving dinner at our apartment earlier this evening. Amy, a recent college graduate living in St. Louis this year, studies the rice economy in Senegal. Renata, another recent college graduate, researches women’s basketball in Senegal and its impact on young women. Lindsay, a doctoral student in history at MSU, researches women who worked in trade (including in slaves) on the Senegal River several centuries ago. Ellen, an anthropology professor at Clark University, has researched in Senegal for over a decade and is currently studying the interconnections of transactional sex, marriage, and divorce. And I’m teaching environmental and health law to masters students while researching Senegalese climate change laws. The common denominator for us all this year is William Fulbright and the program named in his honor that brings students and professors outside the U.S., to follow their intellectual passions while “increas[ing] mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
Our downstairs neighbor, Susan, who works with the Ministry of Education as an English language fellow, provided the turkey. Her son, Ross, and his friend, Jess, who are visiting for several weeks, stuffed and cooked it to perfection. Everyone pitched in to add to the table: mashed potatoes with garlic and basil, roasted butternut squash, ratatouille, red current compote, green salad, and beets, topped off by chocolate and apple pies and tarte à la mode. Ellen’s husband, Ajayi, made ataaya, which we sipped while playing Apples to Apples for hours. Brian and Matthew of course did all kinds of cooking and cleaning up. We talked and ate and played long enough into the wee hours to make it to the real Thanksgiving Day, Senegal time.
And a Thanksgiving Day first for me: swimming laps in an outdoor pool before the guests arrived!