Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hello everyone!

This is going to be my last post for a while because I will be on my Spring Break.
My friends Natalie, Cara, and I are going to be traveling around Senegal.

We're starting off in St. Louis and working our way down to La Petite Cote.

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures and tell you all about it once I get back.

Today my Education class took a field trip to an Elementary School. It was really interesting, yet somewhat intimidating for me because I ended up in a classroom by myself observing the professor while 20 or so 1st graders were staring at me and probably asking themselves "what the heck is this white lady doing here?"

It was a really fun trip though - and we're hopefully going to be going to a couple of other different schools too so that we can compare how different schools approach education in Senegal.

I'll be sure to write more about that once it happens. That's it for now.

Ba beneen yoon. Inchalla.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Asalaam maalekum!

I've been downtown three days in a row... that's crazy.
I'm getting pretty comfortable taking car rapids now, which is good because it's much cheaper than the taxi and it's part of experiencing Senegalese culture.

On that note - I'm becoming very thrifty. I'm finding myself turning down shoes that the vendor claims cost 3000 CFA (approx. $6 US Dollars) because I KNOW that they should only be 2000 CFA ($4).

And on that note, let me just say that walking through the market is ALWAYS an experience (especially if you're a toubab). You always have at least 5 people following you with their merchandise exclaiming "My sister, come and look, I give you good price. Just look. I have good price. Sister, sister...!"

I'll be honest, at times it gets frustrating, but then I remember that it's just part of the culture and I learn to just enjoy the experience while it's happening.

Sama xarit (my friend) Abby and I went surfing yesterday.
By that I mean we rented boards and wetsuits and attempted to stand up on them while getting mauled by the waves.
It was still a lot of fun though - I think we're going to go back sometime and get a lesson (instead of just trying it on our own).

Spring Break is coming up. It's REALLY early (March 3-7). I'm still trying to finalize plans as to what I'm going to be doing during break.

I'll keep you updated on what I end up doing during break.

Jaam ak jaam,

Sunday, February 17, 2008

asaalam maalekum!

Valentines Day:
My friends and I went into town after school and treated ourselves to a nice Lebanese dinner. We had the most amazing hummus and vin rose and chocolate cake for dessert with vanilla ice cream. :-)

*this is our lovely hummus and wine*

*this is my "twin" Natalie and our amazing dessert*

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) the entire CIEE crew went to Toubab Dialaw - an amazing little beach resort south-east of Dakar. Here's a map:

*picture of our hotel from the beach*

It was SO much fun and VERY relaxing.
We got to participate in a workshop too. We got to choose between: Batik (designing patterns on cloth and then dying the cloth), Pottery, Drumming, and Dance.
I paid a little bit extra so I could to two activities: Drumming and Dance.
I learned a lot and it was really fun too.

Last night they had a performance where we were able to watch some amazing drumming and dancing.

I also spent a lot of time on the beach and am starting to get a bit of a tan. :-)

Here are some more pictures for you. Hope you enjoy them :-)

Here's a link to view all of my photos from this trip:

Hope all is well back at home. Please keep commenting - I like reading about what's going on in the rest of the world.

Ba beeneen yoon!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Asalaam maalekum!

Sorry it's taken me so long to update this. There's been so much that's happened since the last post I'm not even sure where to start.

THURSDAY night I spent some quality bonding time with my family - my brother and I stayed up until almost 2 in the morning playing cards and talking about a wide variety of subjects (everything from "was 9/11 a terrorist attack or a conspiracy" to "what kind of music do you like" to "what are some differences/similarities between Islam and Catholicism")

FRIDAY we ended up having a party at my house (it wasn't planned... it just sort of happened that way). Two of my sister (Mimi)'s friends came over and then my friend Rama from Suffolk came over too and we attempted to make crepes. They turned out pretty well - We stuffed them with eggs and cheese.
Then a bunch of my CIEE friends came over and we ended up watching "Love Actually" on my computer.
One of the girls had just gotten back from the post office with a package from her parents (it was her birthday on Wednesday) and her parents sent her a large variety of candy, including warheads.
That being said, let me just add that we introduced "Warheads" (a very VERY sour candy for those of you who don't know) to my Senegalese family and it was really funny to watch their faces after trying it.

YESTERDAY (SATURDAY) was an amazing day.
Helah, Rebecca, Julie, and I went to this market that my sister Mimi told us about. It's only open on Saturdays and they have all sort of things (including Western style clothing) for REALLY cheap. I even saw a Purdue t-shirt for sale! (NO, I didn't buy it). I did buy a really pretty skirt though. :-)

After going to the market we got a taxi to take us to the dock for Ngor Island.
There we met a Senegalese man wearing a Cincinnati Reds baseball cap who sold us a ticket to get on a pirogue (small fishing boat) to get to the Island.

The Island was georgious. We had an amazing lunch in this little bodega on the beach (I had shrimp pasta - I'm pretty sure the noodles had been soaked in butter... it was delicious). Then we went exploring around the island and found a rocky beach where we took tons of photos and collected sea glass and sea shells.

Later on in the day, Debbie, Anna, Ashley, and Sarah joined us and we had a fun time just chilling out on the beach.

I NO LONGER HAVE BRAIDS - I took them out last night (and had the BIGGEST AFRO ever before I got in the shower).

Last night was Katie's birthday so we all went over to her house for cake and pineapple. Then we went out to "Chez JoJo" (which is right across the street from my house) for a couple of drinks and some french fries.

That's it for now. Hopefully all is well back home.

Jaam ak jaam,

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hey everyone!
Lu bees? (What's new?)

Last Sunday 8 of us crazy students decided that it would be a good idea to go to a Monastery near Thies (just outside of Dakar). We left at 6am (before the sun was even up) and took a taxi to a depot in Dakar where we managed to fit 8 people into a sept-place (kind of like a taxi but with 7 seats) that took us to Thies.

We arrived around 8am in a remote village like setting and asked around for directions on which way to walk towards "L'abbaye Keur Moussa".
It was such a beautiful walk - there were flowers everywhere (along with lots of goats and chickens randomly walking along the street).

The Monastery is beautiful. Here's a picture for you:

We were able to attend the 10am service and the closest thing I can compare it to is Gregorian chants mixed with African instruments (there were several kora players, and an occasional drum and flute). It was beautiful to listen to.

Afterwards we went to the gift shop, where the monks sell things like rosaries, perfume, jam, and (best of all) Goat cheese!
We bought a bunch of cheese and a jar of jam with the intention of buying some baguettes later on and having a wonderful picnic lunch.

we were instead invited by one of the monks to a garden next door to the chapel. We had a wonderful lunch of rice and sauce along with the goat cheese, jam, and bread we bought (and some oranges for dessert).

In short: it was an amazing day.
Coming back was a little trickier because we took a jaagan jaay (spelling??) it's kind of like a car rapide. Anyways, we took that back into the city and then got on a car rapide that took us closer to our homes.

I'm also making some senegalese friends, which is really exciting.
I went to lunch yesterday with a girl named Rama who's a student here at Suffolk.

There's supposedly a Mardi Gras party going on here soon, so I'm going to go check that out.

Jaam ak jaam,