“What does freedom mean to you?” / One Month in Taiwan

“What does freedom mean to you?” This question, asked by a renowned journalist from Hong Kong, came during the keynote presentation of the country-wide orientation for my new teaching position.  As a newcomer to the island, I feel a lot of individual freedom in Taiwan. It’s obvious why one-year grantees end up staying here for… Continue reading “What does freedom mean to you?” / One Month in Taiwan

Looking Backwards and Moving Forward (and a Visit to a Vodun Art Exhibit)

“Sans titre (tête) “ 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas. Jeremy Demester. Zinsou Foundation, Ouidah, Benin.

“Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” This Filipino idiom, usually attributed to José Rizal, shares a universal truth: in order to know where your destination is, you have to understand where you’ve come from. For centuries, many cultures around the world have embraced this way of life. When I lived… Continue reading Looking Backwards and Moving Forward (and a Visit to a Vodun Art Exhibit)

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Categorized as Benin

[四海为家]: Returning to myself in Taiwan

A chéngyǔ is a Chinese idiom that is typically written in only 4 characters. One that I’ve been reflecting on this past week is 四海为家 (sì hǎi wéi jiā), which literally translates to “four seas regard home”. A decade ago, I would have understood this to mean exactly what it implies: the ability to make… Continue reading [四海为家]: Returning to myself in Taiwan

One-Month Mandarin Marathon + 3 Handy Resources

I’ve been in Taiwan for a week now, and while navigating Taipei is doable in English, one of the major reasons I came here was to become fluent in Mandarin. With one month before the semester starts, I’ve got enough time for an intensive self-study challenge. I was fortunate enough to receive a monthly language-learning… Continue reading One-Month Mandarin Marathon + 3 Handy Resources

“Why Do We Cry?”/ A Reflection on Matemwe Beach in Zanzibar

Why do we cry? I stand where the waves make love With the shore. The motion of OceanStretches my bones and kisses the  Curvature of my spine, each vertebraArched in agony and love, beneath theAncient night and the whispersOf stars and the towering moon.  Tell me, why are you? A sequence ofatoms in motion, of proteins in Lines… Continue reading “Why Do We Cry?”/ A Reflection on Matemwe Beach in Zanzibar

Why I Left West Africa: A Prologue

Mont-Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire

I’m not happy here in West Africa.  In 2016, I spent a summer as an independent researcher in Guinea. It was my first time traveling alone to another continent, and it turned out to be everything I didn’t expect. It was jarring. It was psychologically and physically challenging. At least for me, it was (if… Continue reading Why I Left West Africa: A Prologue

Kpalimé / Mountain / Spirit

Listen… I have become unstuck in time. It was, in fact, a dark and stormy night in the forests of southern Togo, just after M. and I checked into our lodge. As I lay in bed, my mind fell in and out of sleep, not quite approaching rest and not quite relapsing into reality. The… Continue reading Kpalimé / Mountain / Spirit

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A Beginner’s Resource Guide to Less Commonly Taught Languages

In my various attempts at trying to acquire less commonly taught languages (LCTLs), one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is knowing where and how to find the resources to begin. If you’re looking to learn an LCTL but don’t know where to start, this page is for you. The National Council of Less Commonly… Continue reading A Beginner’s Resource Guide to Less Commonly Taught Languages