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The Cats of Senegal

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(Becca here, as Caryn and Austin do not quite agree with me on this point)

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of our time in Senegal presented itself in the form of temptation. That is, the temptation to pet every cat around. In the States, this is of course perfectly normal. People love cats. They're adorable. Who wouldn't want to pet a cat? In Senegal, the story is quite different. Cats are pests to the Senegalese, disgusting, dirty, gross little critters that no one wants to touch. I have received many an odd look from all of the cats that I have pet, be they in the street, outside of the house, at WARC, at my internship, et cetera. I have been warned by many a folk not to touch the cats, as they are dirty and not friendly. I have here photo evidence that proves otherwise.




Garbage Cat

First and foremost is Garbage Cat, so named because he eats garbage. I see him almost every single day on the way to my internship. I haven't tried to pet him, because, you know, garbage, …

Austin's Internship

Austin is working at Centre Gindi. It is a home for children, mostly boys who are victims of abuse. The home provides medical care, basic amenities such as showers and a place to sleep, and 3 square meals a day. 2 for the older children during Ramadan. It is also a safe place for these kids where no one can hurt them. I said mostly boys because most of them come from a fundamentalist school where the master beats them but because no one outside sees it, the police can't do anything. I work with the kids, play games, and work with the other college volunteers to teach them positive ways to gain control, and feel empowered. We also do conflict resolution so these kids don’t turn to violence as well. The center is a great place and even though the kids come from cruddy situations that are by no means their fault, they still have high spirits. That is all I need to Keep doing the best I can for these kids.

San Louis

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This past weekend, the team went to San Louis, a beautiful city north of Dakar. We left on Friday, stopping in Thiess to visit a tapestry manufacturer. We were able to see the process that goes into making tapestries and carpets by hand, and saw some beautiful samples of works in their exhibition room. Next, we stopped at the university and talked with some students in the English department, comparing our experiences and universities. After touring the campus a bit, we went to our hotel for the night, located on the river with a beautiful view of the bridge.
On Saturday, we took a carriage ride around the island. We had a tour guide with us, stopping at interesting locations and telling us about their significance and history. We also went to an archaeology/art/hands on astronomy museum for a brief stop. It was a small building, but an interesting view into how these topics are presented in Senegal. Finally, we went to a lake outside of San Louis, near the ocean. We got to enjoy a b…

Becca's Internship

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Becca is working at Noor International Academy, a school that just opened this past September. It is a bilingual Islamic school with just 25 students. She teaches a preschool class for 45 minutes a day, mostly reviewing things that the kids learned earlier in the year. Apart from teaching, she also does a lot of work on decorations for the school.

A lot of the students speak English and a few of them are from the US. For the most part, the preschoolers she teaches do not speak much English beyond what they have learned in class, though there is one American student.

The curriculum is Senegalese, as the school is trying to break away from following the French setup for education. Senegalese teaching styles are quite different from those typically seen in the US, so the main goal of Becca's internship (according to her boss) is to offer a new perspective on learning styles & approaching problems.


A Weekend in Petite Côte

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This past weekend, the DIAS group went on a weekend trip to Petite Côte. We stopped for a day in Papenguine, and saw a site where the Virgin Mary appeared as a black woman to a woman and her baby. We also meet Moussa Sene Absa, a Senegalese film producer. We were able to tour his house and watch one of his movies, Madame Broullette. The group was able to discuss the film with Mr. Absa and get a glimpse into his inspiration. We spent the night in a hotel over looking the beach, built by the hands of one man. At 90 years old, he still works on sculpting the hotel. The next day, we went to Fadiouat, a shell island. We toured the island and the cemetery, which is the final resting place of both Christians and Muslims. We were able to take a short canoe ride through the mangroves and passed the island to the mainland. After lunch, we headed to the home of the father of the first president of Senegal, Senghor. We were then able to relax with our fellow students for another evening at a res…

Caryn's Internship Experience

The first week here, Caryn interned with le Centre Suivi Ecologie (CSE). She was able to experience how Senegalese business and meetings are conducted. The organization was in charge of making sure the new city the government is constructing gets developed in a way that will benefit the people and the environment. She was able to sit in on meetings and discussions with the firm overseeing the infrastructure construction, the fire department in the area, and the census bureau. It was interesting to see what concerns each party had and how CSE is considering multiple points of view in their investigation. Caryn will spend the remainder of her internship experience with ENDA, an environmental and development organization.

Part of the Program

Part of the program here with the Dakar Institute of African Studies (DIAS) is taking a Wolof class and participating in an internship program. Each of us has a different internship experience, which will be discussed in later blog posts. Wolof is the largest spoken African language in Dakar. Our class is taught mostly in French, with some English classifications, so we're getting plenty of practice in both languages. A typical set of introductions may look like the following:
Salaam alekum.        Peace be with you.
Malekum salaam.    And with you.
Na nga def?              How are you?
Ma ngi fi.                   I'm fine, or literally, I am here. We are getting plenty of practice outside of the classroom in both French and Wolof as we meet knew people, greet our Senegalese friends, and talk to our host families.