Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WAIST and More!

Hello my good friends. Sorry I haven’t written in so long. I am also going to apologize for not having any pictures. I forgot to bring my camera to Dakar. Here is a brief update about my life.

I spent the last week or so traveling, with my final destination being Dakar, Senegal, where I went for the West African Invitational Softball Tournament. I was lucky enough to get to stay with an Amazing family in Dakar. The husband works for the American Embassy in Senegal and their house had everything I could have wanted: stocked fridge, toaster, microwave, washer/dryer, and real mattresses. Even if I had never left their house, that would have been vacation enough for me. The softball tournament (which our team won, through no help of my own) took place at the American Club, which has a pool and is full of English speaking Americans! It was awesome to get to meet volunteers serving in other countries, though some of them are afraid of us because the Mauritanian volunteers tend to take over any place we go en masse.

Now I’m back at site and will probably be sticking around to the end of the school year. However, unlike in America where you always know when the end of the school year is, here we’re not quite sure. There is supposed to be an election here in early June, which means schools will close probably about a month before that. From what I have heard, the month before an election here it is impossible to get anything done, so it will kind of be like Ramadan Round II.

Work has been going well. The girls at the center are crazy, but that’s not unlike teenage girls in the states. We just started a class for women who have not been able to finish school, and we’re also working on the program for Women’s Day on March 8th.

I think that’s about all from here, but as usual, I have some funny stories to share.

Story 1: I don’t actually live with my host family, but eat many meals with them. After dinner, it’s usually pretty late so two of my sisters will walk me home. There is a short way to go, but we always take the long way. One night I decided to ask my sister, Rama, 17 years old, why we always take the long way. She said it was because the short cut has a lot of dogs and she doesn’t like it when the say “ho ho” (this is what they think barking sounds like). The she told me that dogs in Mauritania eat people, and asked if dogs in America do too. I couldn’t just let an opportunity like that pass me by, so I said “Dogs in America don’t eat people like me. They only eat Mauritania girls.” She got a very worried look on her face, and I kept it going for about two minutes before I told her that really, dogs in America don’t eat people (and neither do dogs in Mauritania). I guess she believed the lie more than the truth, because a month later Rama’s mom told me that Rama never wanted to go to America because she was afraid dogs would eat her.

Story 2: I was hanging out with another branch of my host family (they have various members living in different houses) when I found myself alone with a four year old who only speaks Pulaar, Shohamar. Normally when I’m with kids who don’t speak French or Hassaniya I just speak to them in English because they don’t understand anyway. I said the word “yes” to him and he repeated to me “Yes we can!” I was very surprised, said “Where did you hear that?” His response was: “Barrack Obama. Yes we can!” I think this is an accurate representation about how Mauritanians feel about the President…even non English speakers can recite his motto.

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