Sunday, August 23, 2009

Home Stay

So last monday, our home stay began. Wow, what a crazy and ridiculously frightening thing...

My group of classmates and my teacher were all driven to Tiwawaan, a village nearby to Thies (our PC training center). Each of us were dropped off one by one with little/no Wolof skills. I was absolutely frightened. Thankfully, my family speaks French so there is SOME communication. I awoke the next morning to realize that I was still alive; my homestay has only gotten better since.

My family is huge: 15-20 people. We live in 3 separate houses because of our size. My family is very wonderful and generous. I'm incredibly well fed and taken care of. It took the little kids a couple days to realize that I'm not a bad guy, so now we play socccer together and they're trying to teach me Senegalese nursery rhymes.

Language tip: If youare ever learning a new language, hang out with lots of kids. They have the most patience and a similar level of vocabulary...

Food: Senegal's national dish is Ceebu Gen, which is fish and rice. It tastes great. In general, the food is different and difficult to explain the new flavors and tastes. It's easier to explain how my stomach has been reacting, but I'll spare you any graphic details and just say that some things are uncomfortable...Also, I love mangos. Nothing beats eating fresh mangos that have just fallen off the tree in your yard :) Jealous about my humble lifestyle now??

Our main job/focus for this portion of training is language learning. We're in class 6.5 days/week, 6 hours/day. So lots of language. During the off time, I hang out with my family under the mango trees. Shade is very important here. I'll save my language stuff for a separate blog entry.

Amenities: Probably the biggest difference here is the bathroom situations. First, bucket showers. Running water here is defined as a spicket that supplies water for you, which is better than a well. Second, squat toilets. And finally, no toilet paper. I'll spare you details here too, just remember that if you ever visit Senegal, we only shake with our right hands. 'Nough said...

Overall, I'm having a great time here. Things are a bit challenging and frustrating at times, but I'm keeping mine and others spirits up as much as possible. Laughing is key in this environment. People laugh at me, mainly because I sound like an idiot speaking Wolof, but it's important to laugh at myself as well. And believe me, there's plenty to laugh at...

PS. It's very hot here and very humid right now.
Byron Yee
Peace Corps Trainee - Senegal, 2009

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