Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back from Spring Break and off to the Internship

Tonight I'm sitting in my new family's living room watching tv with multiple family memebers. One of my brothers has an internet cable which is super cool. I don't think I'll be using it a lot but it's nice that's it there. We spent the three days traveling across the country dropping off the other students at their internship sites before I got here which was very long but I'm here now and starting to settle in.

Spring break was fantastic! We spent three days is St.Louis at this adorable hotel right on the river with great food and very friendly staff. The city itself is absolutely beautful and is unlike anything I've seen in Senegal so far. The architecture has a lot of french colonial influence and it reminds me a lot of New Orleans. Not only in buildings, but in mood and personality as well. Everyone was so friendly, welcoming and laid back. We fit in just fine. It was too hard to pick pictures so there's only a few up now put I'll add a link to the facebook album I will put together.

We spent our days wandering around town, meeting people and doing some shopping. Shopping was so much nicer than Dakar. You can actually look around without be baggered on a constant basis. In the evening, we saw some live music and danced a bit. We ate great food and made friends, which is really all you can ask for. After St.Louis, we headed to the National Bird Park. There's only one hotel for the park and pretty much nothing else. It was a good hour and a half of driving on tiny dirt roads to get there and the closest thing to us was one little village about three miles away. The hotel had a great pool which was nice for relaxation but lacked some customer service skills. We went to the bird park itself on our secound day and had a blast. We of course saw tons of birds, especailly huge pelicans, but we also saw warthogs, crocodiles and a python! After the bird park, we headed to the desert. Though I really enjoyed everything on spring break, the desert was my favorite. Sleeping in the shadow of huge sand dunes was just so cool. And we got to ride camels! The employees played traditional music in the evening and everyone danced, we ate great food and hung out under the stars. I couldn't have asked for much more.

It is a bit of a change now though, to go from hanging with a grop of american students 24/7 to being all by myself! There is another student whose about 12 miles away but she's in a tiny village and transportation is difficult. Things are gong well here overall. My language skills are improving by the day, especially wolof since I'm expected to know a lot for my internshp. Speaking oif which, the internship has been interesting. The organization itself is really cool. I've just worked with one of its two projects so far, the one that works with young women who are no longer in school for whatever reason. They teach them trade skills along with basic literacy and other useful things such as health and hygiene. I've shadowed one class so far and really enjoyed it. The other project is working with street children, I reprot more when later when I've seen more of that. The people I work with are very welcoming and energetic and I think I'll really enjoy working there. I don't really think they will be having me do much but at least I get to tag along to interesting things.

Well, that's it for now I think but more updates to come. Keep the emails and comments coming, they are all the more appreciated since I'm much more isolated now. Until next time!

P.S- pictures are taking too long to load but I'll add more soon!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ok, so the Roby family gets a major A+ on blog commenting. I can't believe I got a comment from each member of the family, I love it! Thanks guys! It makes me feel so loved.

Just a quick update on the goings on here. It's my last week in Dakar and though I'm very sad to be leaving the family, I am very ready for a break from classes and very excited for the internship phase to start. I can't believe how fast the time is going, I'm already halfway through!

This past weekend involved a lot of salsa dancing, as usual. I went out on Friday and brought my host sister Baaly! It was so much fun to have her join us and she had a great time. My family has been teasing me to dance for them in the house and I have thus far refused but on Saturday, because it was my last full weekend, we decided to have a little dance party in the dining room. I brought my computer home and cranked the tunes and everyone danced, including all the kids and my 62 year old host mother! It was one of the most enjoyable nights I have spent in Senegal.

Spring break starts this Saturday and I will be traveling with 7 other students to Saint Louis, a city in the north part of Senegal. It's known for it's jazz musical roots and historical character. We're staying there for 3 days and then venturing on to the National Bird Park which is supposed to have insane amounts of birds, the wildlife for which Senegal is known, along with monkeys and I think a variety of reptiles. We're staying at the only hotel for the park which is supposed to be really nice, and it has a pool! After two days at the bird park, we're off to the Desert du Lompoul for camping, complete with camel rides and sleeping under the stars! And then it's back to Dakar to spend the weekend with the family.

More to come!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Here are pictures from the baptism!

The day started with friends and family filtering in throughout the morning, saying their hellos and finding places to sit and people to talk to. Everyone got very dressed up, especially my immediate family, with fancy clothes makeup, and doing their hair. My family got a dress made for me too so that I fit in a little better than usual.

We got the baby ready, much of which was just picking out a cute little dress for her to wear and changing her diaper. She was dressed in a very western dress which I found surprising considering a baptism is a very traditional and important religious practice. Ami, the baby’s mother was the most dressed up, with my other sisters fussing about her outfit and fixing her hair. All the men and the older women gathered in the salon and the baby was taken out there. But my sisters and I did not follow. We simply sat and chatted and after about 20 minutes, the baby was brought back. Her head was shaved and she had very thick eyebrows painted on. Apparently she had already been baptized and named. But her mother and aunts weren’t even there. I found it surprising that, for the baptism and naming of a female child especially, the mother and aunts weren’t involved. I had no idea the actual event was even taking place. So much for really experincing the baptism but gender seperation is something I've had to get use to in Senegal and the mere inability to experince the actual event was a cultural experience in an of itself.

The rest day consisted tons chatting, eating, chating and eating some more. You should see all the food they made, we had Lakk in the morning, a millet porriage thing with milky yogurt on top. It's sounds wierd but is abslutely delicious. My host mom ordered donuts from our neighbor who's a cook so we ate those between lakk and lunch. For lunch, my brothers slaughtered an entire sheep which is a tadition for baptisms. I refrained form putting those pictures up but if your interested, I do have them and can shot you an email :) I had to sit by the corpse all through lunch, it was an interesting experince to say the least. There was enough lamb, rice and vegetables to feed and army an that's abot how many people we had in our house.

I got to meet tons of exteded family members and friends and had fun practicing my Wolof. Senegalesegathering are mainly just about spending time together and that's what I did. I just sat and chatted, played with the kids and helped where I could. It's interesting, but after the baptism, there was little to know gender seperation. Everyone ate together and hungout together, which is not always the case. My good friend Elke who is the academic year verson of my program was in town and since we share the same host family in Dakar, she was able to be there too wich was a blast! Another student, Johanna, who lives literally a stones throw away also joined us for the festivities. My family is so welcoming and so great, it's always fun to get to share them with other students and friends.

That's all I have time to update today but more to come!