Wednesday, December 25, 2013
For Christmas in Senegal we have chosen to descend upon the PCVL apartment in Theis. Most of our work zone is here to enjoy some American company, comfort, and food. This is certainly my most interesting Christmas I've ever had. The food is surprisingly similar, the conversation is mostly concentrated on homely memories, and the weather is COLD! Overall I am in good spirits and enjoying these relatively new friends. Of course I miss church, home, family, and friends but the deeper I get into this adventure, the more my commitment to these two years is enforced. My only wish is that all who miss me enjoy themselves and shoot me a txt or email to say hi. Much love and wishes of a blessed Christmas coming from Senegal.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Two days after I installed the all-Mboro futball league championship game happened in the stadium right next to my house. I have been amazed over the past few months by not only the amount of talented players there are in the league but also by how much the town rallies behind these games. This one in particular must have had half the town there. Try to imagine 15,000 people cramped into a space maybe the size of a high school stadium and half the seating. The entire dirt field was lined with spectators, many sitting on top of the walls. Kids were running around everywhere, crowds of them waiting to get in for free when they can. There were groups of drummers, dancers, and sellers making so much noise. This combined with the boisterous spectators and an announcer on huge speakers made a collective sound that could be heard all over town.
So far I've not seen anything like it. I saw a local youth group there the day before putting up tarps for shade. The Senegalese Red Cross was there for medical support. Even the mayors office provided a tractor to transport the speakers and provide other logistical support. I'm starting to see that futball is going to be crucial to work here. This is not just a hobby in town. People expect young men to play and seldom understand why anyone wouldn't want to. Work must be planned around it and opportunities may even present themselves within it. I can see that it gains people respect off the field if they can perform on the field. For me, I'll have to find some other way to gain that respect.
I'm in Mboro, installed with my new family and a whole new setup. I've got a lot to do and not too much time to do it. PST2 (Pre-Service Training 2) is only a few weeks away and I have a large report to write by then. But actually the past two weeks were very exciting so I will recap and take a step away from that.
I think the last time I wrote here we were leaving our CBT families. The next day we had our Wolof exams. Luckily I passed. The day after that we had a little field trip to Popenguine for Thanksgiving. To say it was gorgeous would be an understatement. So if you really want to know, come visit and you can buy me dinner at a nice French restaurant on the beach there. We cooked our own meals which was beautifully hectic. We had a very American spread with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken (turkey is extremely expensive here), and even chocolate/pumpkin/apple pies. Altogether the two day stay made for the most memorable (and warm) Thanksgiving I've ever had.
After that we had our swearing-in ceremony in Dakar. We were all dressed very well in local attire. It was an extravagant ceremony with many in attendance. Coincidently this year is also the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps Senegal. This made it a huge party with three artists performing including Baba Mall, one of the biggest in Senegal. Throughout the whole party the Wolof words "Lu Yagg, Degg La" were repeated. It's a Wolof proverb used as the motto of the 50th anniversary. It means "If something lasts long, it is true." And I can tell this has been true for PC Senegal. Of course our goal is to eventually leave this country, but right now i can see how this hard working staff has created a respected organization in Senegal. Upholding that reputation and working hard with Senegalese citizens is a hope of mine now that I am in my site. Now starts my two years of service!