Teranga: A Story of Belonging (Paperback)
When her Hogwarts letter never comes, Katie reluctantly accepts that she’s stuck in small town Michigan until graduation. She finds her people in the countless books you can find tucked under her arm but finds it impossible to land in a crowd that makes sense to her.
Everything changes the day a woman shows up to her French class and plants a seed in her mind about a country in West Africa, making Katie wonder what else is possible besides fixating over prom dresses, ACT scores, and the same life trajectory that everyone around her wants.
Determined to follow her instincts and curiosity, she heads off to college and spends a semester studying abroad in Senegal. This story follows her adventures, mishaps, and lessons learned over those five months, many of which involve bad dance moves, hiding toilet paper, and omelettes.
While there, Katie meets Anne-Marie, a Senegalese who she initially meets with for a language exchange, but which results in a friendship in which neither uses their first language. Discovering that they can understand each other beyond linguistic confines, Katie’s previous conceptions on what it means to belong, to be a friend, and to be yourself are challenged in ways she never expected.
This story offers a glimpse into the profound effects that come from stepping outside of your comfort zone, immersing yourself in another culture, and allowing your heart and mind to stretch beyond what you thought was possible, never able to shrink back to what it once was and being forever changed by it.
Katie holds her BA in French and MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She’s taught various English courses for 10 years to high school students in France, pre-med students in Saudi Arabia, and international graduate students at the University of Michigan. She’s studied, worked in, and traveled to over 30 countries. In 2020, she moved to Redlands, California with her husband and is now working full-time on her small business, Teranga Market.