Monday, April 25, 2011

Pictures


I know that I need to start taking more pictures so today I started! I brought my camera downstairs during lunch and told my host family that I would be taking a lot of pictures now and July.... Miss said I was only allowed to take pictures of her when she had her hair done and was wearing make up... Khady, on the other hand, didn't have a problem.




Lunch: Rice, Fried Fish, Onion Sauce with Tomato Paste
Our Courtyard


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Good and The Bad

Before I get into the good and the bad of my time here, let me first say that today was a day of letters galore! Today Alan got my valentine's day card (after 3 months of traveling the globe). Also, I have a friend who's a PCV in Honduras and I got a letter from her (which also traveled for 3 months). Inspired by a recent blog post from that same friend, I've decided to give you some of the good and the bad things about Senegal. Let me give a disclaimer that this is my own totally unprofessional opinion and don't take it as fact. Also, I feel like I could go on about this forever but here's just a glimpse:

The Bad:
The way Senegalese men behave sometimes drives me crazy. They're told they are superior of women and most men believe this and act on it all the time. I can barely stand working with partners who may not think that I'm totally inferior (because I'm a foreigner) but that they will never respect half of their own country. This happened a while ago (and I already blogged about it) but I got into a huge discussion with several male teachers/school administrators about how women shouldn't work because they aren't intelligent enough....ugh how can you write off half of your country's brainpower and workforce.

The way concept of time and important things. People are never late for food or prayers but can't seem to be on time for anything else. If a meeting is supposed to start at 9 people will show up around 10 and you can maybe start around 10:30... if you're lucky. I know it's not impossible to be on time, it's just not important.

The Good:
Senegalese women are seriously amazing. All of the women in my house and all of the girls that I work with are so strong and do so much every single day. The women in my house do almost everything every day to make sure we eat, things are clean, people have clothes, etc. and they don't take credit for ANYTHING. I know that the girls I work with do a ton of housework to support their mothers and sisters while also doing school work and maintaining great grades (better than some of the boys in their classes who don't have as much housework).

Hardworking means hardworking - there are a couple of people (Matar included) that work so, so, so hard to provide for their families. I just find it so impressive that someone like Matar, at the age of 31, supports his entire huge family. He works 7 days a week to support them and this kind of dedication to family is amazing.

One more thing that, though it's not exactly about Senegal, is making my Peace Corps service great is my friends. I'm so lucky to have such great other volunteers in my area and around the country. Even when I'm not with my girl posse I feel like I can hang out with any other volunteer in country because everyone is awesome.

There's a little about Senegal for you.... once my service really starts to come to a close I plan on having more retrospective blogs, but you'll have to wait at least a month for that.

This is a little early but Happy Easter everyone! I hope you have ham and peeps and maybe even a butter lamb on your table!

KO

Friday, April 22, 2011

America: Part 2

I got to spend the last few weeks in the US and my entire trip was AMAZING! I started the trip in New York where I got to catch up with a ton of friends. Almost all of my old roommates from sophomore year (except for Jess who's in Berlin saving the environment). We had brunch and
then I got to spend the entire day hearing how successful they all are. We all lived on the same floor freshman year then lived in a tiny 6 person apartment our sophomore year. Now we're all in different areas (art, politics, business, law, environment) but have stayed friends so it was great to hear about everyone's life (except Jess who was dearly missed but will hopefully be there when we all get together again in the fall).

During the rest of the time I was in New York I got to see so many people and eat so much delicious food. I think I was most excited for soup (possibly because it was rainy) but everything I ate was great!

Right before the weekend I flew to Phoenix to meet my parents and start weddingpalooza! Straight from the airport we went to In-and-Out (my family might not have a lot of traditions so we stick to the ones we have)! Then I tried on my bridesmaid's dress and got it measured for alterations. Next we checked into the hotel then went to COSTCOOOOOOOO which was AMAZING. I had brought back several cloth bags and my parents packed them full of treats for the guests from their side of the wedding. My parents friends the Herrans came and then my Grandma and my cousin - it was the first time seeing them in about 2 years. Noah and Tara came for dinner and then Alan landed.

Friday was rehearsal dinner prep and more family and friends arrived. It was so amazing that so many people came to celebrate Noah and Tara's wedding. At the rehearsal that night I got to meet the rest of Tara's bridesmaids and Noah's groomsmen as well as his dad's side of the family. The rehearsal dinner was really fun and I think everyone had a great time.

Saturday wedding frenzy started around 10am. I hung out with the other bridesmaids while one of them did all of our hair and makeup (which was really nice of her because otherwise I would have had straight hair with barely any makeup). We started taking pictures before the wedding and then the wedding started around 6pm. It was at the resort on the first tee which was a really pretty golf green with water around it. The ceremony was very pretty even though everyone's heal's were ruining the grass (sorry!). After the ceremony there was a cocktail hour in a really beautiful outdoor area. The reception kicked off with all of the bridal party being introduced and Noah and Tara's big entrance. I'm not going to run down the reception one by one because that would take forever but I'll sum it up by saying I had a ton of fun with my family and friends. I this we all had a blast dancing and my mom and Noah looked great dancing to "One Shining Moment" during the mother of the groom dance.



Sunday morning Alan and I flew back to New York VERY early and I spent the rest of the day in New York hanging out with a few other people (and eating ice cream). Monday for lunch I got to hang out with some of the younger girls in the sorority and it was so great catching up with them. Afterwards I had a few people over to Alan's apartment and we made dinner and ate on the roof
until it got too cold. Once it was cold we went downstairs just in time to watch the Lifetime Original Movie about William and Kate (so good) to get everyone pumped for the Royal Wedding! Tuesday I grabbed lunch with another friend before she went off to class and I went off to the airport. At the airport I bought a ton of magazines and ate Wendy's before getting on my plane. Luckily the plane was almost empty and I got an entire row and sleep. I landed and went met up with some friends to deliver the bagels and cream cheese I had brought from Trader Joe's.

That day I was reunited with my Peace Corps Girl Posse and I got to catch up on their trip to Cape Verde. We made velveeta and bacon mac and cheese which was delicious! The next day I headed back to site and I've been hanging around since. Because it's almost Easter people are just around not really doing much and they have the next few days off. My posse and I are planning our next trip - this time to The Gambia. It's a country inside of Senegal and we're only going for 3 days mostly to say we've gone.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Radio Stars!

Salamata, Ndeye Coumba, Soukey, Erin, Safie, Ndeye Awa, and I


Erin, in the middle, an ag volunteer living in a small village outside of Thies, has started working towards a Peace Corps radio program. Other regions of the country work with local radio stations and volunteers' topics range from explaining American culture to talking about work/teaching even reading children's stories in the local language. We were brainstorming topics for this potential Thies radio show and I decided to get my girls' group involved.

When I mentioned that they could be on the radio all of my girls jumped at the opportunity! They immediately started brainstorming skit ideas which were eventually narrowed down to a single skit discussing AIDS, early and forced marriage, abuse against children, and the environment. After that meeting we decided to take a break and get back together the next week to start working on the script. The next week I showed them a basic plot diagram (intro, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion) which they had never seen before. I was able to convince them to drop the multi-themed skit and do two skits with one theme each: abuse against children and forced/early marriage.

They started writing the abuse against children script to present to me. When they were finished they explained the plot and let's just say it was WAY too inappropriate for 14 year old girls to be talking about. I hated to censor them but I couldn't have them talking about things that were culturally inappropriate especially not under the Peace Corps name. We decided to take another week break and come back together the next week. The next Sunday they had two great scripts to present and we started practice!

The first skit was about a girl who's mom wants her to get married to a wealthy man so her family can have money. Eventually the girl's friends convince her mom to let her finish school and everything ends happily. The idea might seem far fetched but unfortunately, the only far fetched part is that the girl didn't have to get married. Sometimes girls are married off at really young ages because their family can't support them or doesn't want to anymore.

The second skit is kind of the Senegalese version of Cinderella: an orphaned daughter (of a second wife) is forced to do all of the housework by her dad's first wife until the first wife's friend comes over and points out that the orphan shouldn't be abused, that she has rights, and that the actual daughter of the first wife doesn't know how to do anything because she's never had to do any chores.

Erin came out to Bambey yesterday to record the skits and the girls' introduction. To make it seem like more of an event I bought a few bottles of soda and we had a little party. I've attached some photos from the day! Erin's going to edit the piece and I'll have a copy to play for the girls May 1st!

Erin handing the mic off

Hammering out last minute details (and Salamata is hiding from the picture because she said her hair was ugly)
Practicing before the recording