Good morning everyone! Assalam aleykum, nanga def, nanga fanane…. These are a few of the many greetings I go through every morning with everyone I meet.
These past two weeks have been chock full of training sessions in Thies and cultural integration at our homestay sites. Our first week in Senegal was spent entirely in the training center in the city of Thies. There are about 80 of us trainees here, from all over the USA. The training center is beautiful, with lots of trees and training gardens. There are permanent staff as well as a rotating group of current volunteers moving through. We had safety and security sessions, cultural sessions, and agricultural tech sessions. It has been a lot of socialization and getting to know each other, kinda like freshman year of college!
Exactly a week ago, we started our homestays: CBT. CBT, which stands for Culture Based Training, means we are living with a Senegalese family on and off for the rest of training. This also means language immersion! I am learning Wolof, the predominant language spoken in Senegal. I’m really enjoying learning a new language, and one so unlike others that I’ve learned before. My host family is so wonderful and helpful with all things cultural and language-related. I have 3 siblings, a 10 year-old brother, a 15 year-old sister and a 21 year-old sister. My host Mom is a stay-at-home mom and my host Dad works elsewhere in the country during the week, coming home on the weekends.
I am living in a small city about 30 minutes away from Thies, with several big roads with shops and fruit and veggie stands. There is also a market with everything from beautiful fabric to plastic shower buckets and everything in between! There are 5 of us total living in the city, each in individual families.
CBT also includes ag work with our sitemates, learning and practicing the techniques we will eventually be extending to farmers and gardeners at our final sites. It’s been sweaty work, double-digging garden beds and creating compost piles!
I’m learning a lot and loving it all! Hope you all are well!