Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WAIST 2011

I have so much to say about WAIST so I'll try and get it all in. For those of you that don't know WAIST aka West African Invitational Softball Tournament is an annual softball tournament that the US Embassy puts on. For the USO team, Senegalese teams, high school team, and almost everyone else - WAIST is both fun and competitive.... for Peace Corps volunteers costumes are the most important part. Let's be honest - I still don't know who won but I know who had my favorite costumes (well, who had the second best costumes to our lederhosen).

The festivities kicked off Friday night with a Peace Corps talent show that was great but WAY more importantly, that my sub-region and I rocked these shirts:

We live in the "Thies Region" of Senegal - pronounced like "chess" so, as an entire region of girls (with Oliver and Thomas as honorary members) we got shirts - pretty clever, no?

After seeing our talented friends sing, dance, juggle, act out a puppet show, and more - we headed to a Peace Corps standard bar. No first night of WAIST is complete without 100 volunteers packing a club and that's how we ended the night.

Our first game was bright and early Saturday so we got up, dressed in lederhosen, and met our team mates (for WAIST we all play in regional teams, so I played with Dakar because Thies is my sub-region). Our first game was against Tambagou (a combination team of the Kedougou and Tamba regions) who were cops and robbers (including several ladies in jump suits, a couple of guys in SHORT shorts and cut off shirts, and the hamburgerler). Tambagou is notorious for forfeiting every game and that's what they did. Instead of playing real softball there was a little of this:

Followed by some of this (leap frog between 1st and 2nd and more awesome batting):

Not to mention, the robbers kept charging the field to steal the bases - yes actually pick them up off the ground - while the cops chased them down.

Our second game followed immediately and was a little bit of a buzz kill as we played the Mali team that was more about softball and less about costumes. It was still fun and we put up a really good showing (in our defense, we make an effort to let everyone play not just our people who will hit home runs).

That ended softball for day one. Everyone hung around the American club (where there's a pool) for a bit until going home to nap, ice sun burn, and (in the case of my homestay) make AWESOME bacon mac and cheese. The second night of WAIST is a date auction (raising money for Gender and Development projects) but I decided to take an easy night so I could be ready for the last full day of WAIST.

Sunday started with a game against CapeGerLi aka Cape Verde, Mali, and Niger volunteers (the Cape Verde volunteers were on vacation, the Mali team was mostly visiting Dakar so only a few people played, and the Niger volunteers had just transfered to Senegal after their program got shut down). Our second and final game was against Kaolack - our closest neighboring PCSenegal region who was dress like ballerinas. Though we started serious at the beginning (and I got a base hit and eventually scored a run) we started playing 3-ball softball which like if 2 softballs had a kickball for a child. That game ended, somewhat surprisingly, without injury, and everyone headed back to the pool. Sunday afternoon was for swimming, volleyball, and admiring everyone's costumes. In case you were wondering:
The North was Jersey Shore
Dakar was Lederhosen
Linguere was Cows and Cowboys
Kaolack was Ballerinas
Tambagou was Cops and Robbers
Kolda was Star Corps (like Star Wars - and they had some impressive storm trooper and Princess Leia costumes)

Sunday night two of the Cape Verde volunteers came over for a pasta dinner and we all headed to the defining WAIST party. During the day Oceanuim is a hotel/scuba school and by night can be rented for open air parties. The third year volunteers did an amazing job of planning, bar-tending, and generally supervising the party (while wearing matching white suits) while everyone else danced the night away. I can't think of a perfect way to describe the Oceanuim party other than to say imagine having all of your friends and their friends over (about 200 of them) and dancing until 5am. One of the great things about PCVs is that, in a situation like that, we've all had WAY more embarrassing things happen to us (getting sick, being peed on by a sheep, you name it) so no one cares about how they look when dancing - we just enjoy ourselves.

Unfortunately Alyssa got really sick pretty much the second we got to the party, so she went home early. I was the second person home and went to use the bathroom then to hang out with Alyssa. My first question was about how she was feeling and then my second question was whether or not she had seen the dead scorpion on the stairs next to the bathroom. She pretty much called me crazy until we went to look. I tried to prove it was dead by throwing a shoe at it and was proven HORRIBLY wrong when the 3-inch scorpion started skittering all over. We beat the crap out of it and quickly flushed it. My feet had been danced on all night (the nail polish on my toes chipped off and they were coated in dirt) so I couldn't really feel them. After doing significant Google research and being reassured by Alyssa and I would have felt a scorpion sting, I finally went to bed.

Monday was all about recovering, sleeping, and doing laundry. Monday evening we went back to the American club for one last hurrah. Like last year, the party started a little slowly. It was supposed to be a pool party but most people were either dancing or sitting and talking. While I was sitting by the pool with my legs dangling in I noticed 2 people from my training group looking suspicious and I heard one of them say, "I think she heard us, we can't do it now!" I moved away from the pool but took my phone out of my jean pocket instead. As a joke I then offered another volunteer $1 to throw Oliver - the volunteer who had planned the entire party and made a HUGE deal about it being a pool party - in. Like a good business volunteer, Oliver upped the offer to $4 to throw me in... eventually we ended up agreeing to jump in together (after taking our shoes off). We quickly became a pool gang: we would pick a target, then the guys would jump out and throw that person into the pool. Sure it sounds a little childish and maybe a little reckless but we all knew we would be returning to site the next day and back to our normal American-less lives of work. After finding some dry clothes I played some volleyball and joined the dance party.

Today, with WAIST actually over, I ran some errands and headed to Thies for an Artisan training. It ends tomorrow afternoon and I'll be back at site by dinner.

Summing up WAIST is fairly difficult (hence the long post) and I'll have more pictures in an album over the next few days. Overall, I had an amazing, amazing time - it was an awesome WAIST to be my last (then again I think WAIST is always great).


Monday, February 21, 2011


I'll write more about WAIST over the next few days but I thought these pictures needed to be shown immediately. Our theme was, very simply, "lederhosen."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My room the clubhouse

My room has officially become a clubhouse - I'm writing you this email while Khady is coloring. Someone else came upstairs to give me something and after they left she was like "now close the door." I feel like I need a "no boys allowed" sign or something to really secure clubhouse status.

Also she was like "I want to look at the book with your mom and dad" (my photo album) and when I said "here's my mom" she said "you have two moms! your mom here and aunt amy diop!" so now she calls you guys my "white mom" and "white dad"

Oh, and she thinks nikki, our black pug/chihuahua mix is our sheep because I don't know the word for dog in wolof.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Schools, Spaghetti, and Sass

The past week has been pretty uneventful in Bambey. Finals are going
on so my classes are on hold until after WAIST (next week!). I've been
getting work done for the upcoming conferences we have and the
presentations I'll be giving. But a few things happened over this past
week that are worth noting:

1. Last week I learned that in addition to the 4 public middle and
high schools in Bambey there are 3 private schools. When I asked what
kind of private schools they are I received a simple answer from
Miriam: schools for kids who were expelled, are too old to be in
normal school, or got pregnant (that explains why they're always so
mean to me!). For a few days I racked my brain trying to figure out
why a fairly small town would need 3 of these schools until Tamar
called. She explained that her counterpart was talking to his son
about his poor performance in school and actually threatened to send
him to Bambey! Yes, my town is a threat to bad kids all over!

2. Three nights ago Mor came in from hunting with his archaic, scary
looking shot gun and summed Youssou to get his killin's from the car.
Youssou carried in a rabbit... so the next night we had spaghetti and
rabbit with onion sauce! Yum.

3. I realized why I like Khady so much: she talks all the time, she
asks a million questions, and she's a little bossy...hmmmm sounds like
someone else... Last night she followed me into my room and we had
this conversation "Where's my coloring book?" "Right here." "Can I
have it?" "Tomorrow." "Okay, tomorrow."

Next week I'll hopefully be back to normal internet and can keep you
updated with WAIST info - I promise I'll take way more pictures this
year than I did last year.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Just Like Normal

I've had some internet troubles so this post is a little but last week I was teaching my favorite class which is a group of 12 girls. They knew each other before the class so they're more outgoing than the other classes. While they were working in their groups on picking a business idea I was wandering around the classroom. I noticed there was a schedule for sweeping the classroom. After reading the schedule, I realized that there were only girls' names on the list. I asked my class about this and they said that of course only the girls have to sweep and clean the board. When I asked what the boys did they responded with a simple, "nothing, of course, just like normal."

I've really been frustrated with the simple things that seem so easy to fix but are so ingrained in the culture. By having only the girls do chores while the boys sit and do nothing or study, it seems to me, that you're basically asking the male students to think they're superior with more valuable time. Maybe I'm over reacting but it's annoying to watch the girls be treated so unevenly and have it just be "normal."

In other news, I've been in Dakar to get some work done and to watch the Superbowl. Because it's not on tv here, the Marines invited everyone over to watch the game - which started at 11:30pm local time. The game went until 3:30am but we brought some veggies and dip (homemade and it was awesome, if I might say so myself) and the Marines had some other food out (including peanut m&ms, chips, and other dips).

Today I'M on my way back to site after lunch but I had to cancel my classes for the next two weeks because it's first semester finals/essays.

Hopefully my internet will work when I get back to site and I can update more regularly.