It is HOT here! About 85+ degrees every day. We must wear below-knee skirts and shoulder-covering shirts as women, so that is another adjustment to make — no beachy attire just because it’s hot. How you dress and present yourself respectably is EXTREMELY important here in West Africa.
We have spent the past few days meeting many people, learning about Senegalese culture, eating Senegalese cuisine (including thieboudienne, pronounced “CHEB-oujenn”), and getting to know each other.
We have a country director, associate Peace Corps directors, training center manager, homestay coordinator, and a LOT of people who work at the training center & beyond who are part of Peace Corps (most are Senegalese, some are American). It is amazing to me how extensive and well thought-out this program is.
We have about 12-15 language & cross-cultural facilitators (LCFs) who are Senegalese people who will teach us the various local languages and answer questions for us about how to integrate into the culture. I would say there is about one LCF for every 3-4 volunteers. The language instruction at Peace Corps is known for being very good. We will all learn a local language (Wolof, Pulaar, Mandinka, etc etc) and there are LCFs for all of us and speak multiple languages (inc. English). As of now, I kind of hope I will learn Pulaar. N’sha allah. Local language fluency is required for most programs & most volunteers speak exclusively a local language (not French) in order to get their work done.
We will go into town and get to explore Thies tonight. We go to our first homestay on Monday and stay for 10 days as part of our immersion program. We are put into language and homestay at the same time for total immersion (not anything like Rosetta Stone!). Later, after we are sworn in as volunteers & when we are installed in our villages, we will have another homestay for the duration of our service.
I really like it here so far. The other volunteers are cool & friendly. We had an impromtu talent show last night with tap dance, violin playing, juggling, singing, guitar, and disco dancing. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. It seems we are a creative bunch. More later. Peace.