Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dancing under African Skies

Dancing under African Skies

Daily routines are quite fun, here in Mbour. My favorite is “Mariam” the nightly Brazilian soap opera dubbed in French. Televisions are not uncommon for Mbour since it is one of the nicer (still a ton of poverty) parts of Senegal. It is also touristy which is a pain in the butt when trying to get a cab. Anyways, in the beginning I would study or read while the show was on, but now, I too… am addicted to finding out when and how Mariam will get out of jail.  My other favorite daily routine is the blackouts. I enjoy them because I get to sit outside with my brothers and admire the amazing sky. This is usually when we bust out some music and dance, well at least I try…they just usually laugh at me. Though I must say a neighbor of mine really likes Bob Marley so I have been trying to teach them how to dance like a Rasta-man (because I totally know how they dance…right) 

I celebrated my three-week mark here in Senegal with a beautiful full moon or Lewru (as you would say in Pular). It is crazy to think a month ago I was celebrating the full moon with my sister, Robb and some friends in my parent’s backyard. It feels like months since that has happened! I feel very distant from home and at times and it is difficult.  I have to remind myself that I have 2 more years to go, which is an insane thought.  Though I am adapting to the fish and rice, no toilet paper, and gender inequality lifestyle, I feel incredibly fortunate to have come from such an amazing place. The opportunities that Americans have are un describable to someone who lives here. I often question why I was able to grow up in a place where seeing a doctor was a 10 minute drive away and yet people here don’t ever get the opportunity to see one and things like diarrhea (not even a problem in the states) is one of the main causes of infant death.   It’s a thought I wrestle with often and something I won’t ever understand.

Speaking of things I don’t understand, one of the most challenging things I have dealt with is the gender roles. I don’t particularly fit into the male or female category because I have much more power than your average Senegalese woman, yet I too am a woman.  Having multiple wives is not uncommon, though my family just has one.  The women of the family are in charge of taking care of the children, cleaning and preparing meals.  There is nothing wrong with this; for woman are great caregivers and in every society this type of activity exists to some degree. However, for all the work they do, they should have some equality. I wont go further into this issue for numerous reasons, but it is something I am challenged with daily.  My sister, in particular, has taught me a lot and our bond is definitely growing. There is a definite balance to when to speak up and when to be an observer.

On a lighter note, I would just like everyone to know that the vampire goat killer may exist though cats are probably the ones crawling on your roof and waking you up at night.  Long story! Lets just say I don’t sleep very well and I have a crazy imagination though I am currently blaming it on the Methoquin. 

Language…language…language!  Still learning a language Senegalese style through broken French, with no dictionary, and multiple ways to spell each word.  Though after observing a 2nd grade classroom, I feel fortunate to even have the ability to work one on one with a language teacher. No joke one classroom has anywhere from 75-120 kids! Can you even imagine??? Not only are they jam-packed into the classroom, everything is taught orally because there is not enough funding to buy supplies.  Picture books? Workbooks? Reading?  These things do not exist!  When experiencing this, I have no room to complain! If a second grader can learn French then I sure as hell can learn Pular even if you speak in the past tense all the time.

There is so much more to write and share but I am getting tired, this blog is long enough, and I have a book to finish!  This weekend is Easter I hope you all have a wonderful one. It is not only Easter, for the Catholics, but also the 50th independence of Senegal. I have to say I am sooo excited to celebrate!  I even have a Senegalese ofit to party in style. (see photo)  Take care; lots of love <3 Jenae
P/S Happy April Birhdays.Everyone!!! .Steve, Sasha, Robb, Dodi, Maris, Eoin, Jamie and Grandpa! 

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