Sunday, December 27, 2009

Updated Photos on Picasa!!

I'm about 2 months behind in photos, so sorry. But the internet and electricity have been very kind to me, so please check out pictures from all my adventures I've been writing about.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Christmas in Kolda

Me and a carfull of friends decided to visit the southern region of Kolda for our holiday adventures.

The ride from Kaolack took 8 hours in total length. We also had to pass through the Gambia, which was beautiful, green, and full of police checkpoints. But we got there hassle free.

Xmas consisted of about 15 people. We roasted an entire pig, and made side dishes including: mash potatoes, green bean casserole, corn casserole, beef stew, and fruit salad. Working all day in the kitchen while listening to cheesy Xmas music definitely made me feel at home.

After a couple hours of digestion, we had a dance party. The festivities also included several holiday and non-holiday films just to fill the time.

Christmas and the holidays are much different for me, as this is my first time away from home. Nostalgia is putting up a strong fight right now. But I am blessed to have a wonderful support team, both here in country and in the US. So as alwayst, thanks for reading and keeping in touch.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Santa Clause is Senegal

First off, Santa Clause is referred to in French as "Pere Noel"

For the first time in my life, I played Santa Clause. There is an infant school program in my town and each year it is traditional to have a PCV play Pere Noel for the Christmas party. I'm not your traditional fat man in a jolly red suit, but a santa hat, an oversized robe, cotton and glue made a decent rendition. My site mate Cassie made a wonderful "Mere noel"

The school also magically acquired a fake snowy tree, complete with blinking lights, and a picture of Santa Clause and a reindeer someone colored with markers. It was humble, but charming and definitely put me in the right mood. And as with all Senegalese parties, it involved plenty of food for us to snack on.

Pere Noel can also dance to Senegalese music. Who knew?

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Saving Water is Important

For about 5-6 days, the pump to our water tower was broken. So the robines (spicketts) to the entire town were out of commission.

Luckily there are numerous wells scattered about. For the first time in my life, I pulled water from a well and also carried buckets of water on my head. Both activities proved to be difficult and exhausting. But it's all part of my goal to slowly become a Senegalese person. But I'm able to live off of about 1.5 buckets of water/day for bathroom, shower, drinking, etc.

For the first 2 days it was inconvenient, but after that well trip just become a part of life. I'm thankful to have running water, even sporadically, at my site. Other volunteers and certainly other Senegalese are still living without electricity or running water.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Gora's New Haircut

For the first time since Middle School, I buzz cut my hair. Not by choice, just from lack of options.

There are no hair scissors in Senegal, just hair clippers. My coiffure was great and gave me a good deal. Plus, I now look more like the Senegalese men, so I'm considering this "sacrifice" as part of my cultural integration. And the hot weather certainly supports this choice.

I'm just thankful that the electricity stayed on the entire time so I didn't leave with half a shaved head...

Pictures coming soon.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Eco Tourism Conference in Dakar

Dec 2-6:Ecotourism conference in Dakar

As this was my first time Dakar, getting there was an adventure in itself. But 9 hours on two buses, some public transportation, and a phone call to another PCV saying I was lost got me my site okay.

EcoT conference: For a few days, we networked with other local tourism companies from Senegal and the Gambia. I conversed about our work in English, French, and Wolof. Gambians speak wolof and English, Senegalese speak Wolof and French, and French people speak...duh. Glad to know my 3 languages I speak are all in demand.

Also, in our spare time, we were able to explore parts of Dakar. It is a big, developped, and expensive place to be. In fact, Dakar seems juxtaposed to the rest of the country. After being there for a few days, I was very ready to get back to my quiet village life.

Lucky me: The trip back to my site was only 8 hours.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Tabaski: A quick history
Tabaski is a Muslim holiday celebrating the story of Ibrahima (Abraham) who was told by Allah (God) to sacrifice his son. Ibrahima obeyed but Allah spared his son and provided a ram to be slaughtered instead. As a celebration, each Muslim family prays and slaughters a sheep every year around late November.

The party(s) were excellent and lasted several days. Here's a quick daily summary...

Tabaski Day 1:
- Cleaned my compound and took the trash out on our horse with my brothers.
- Dressed in awesome Senegalese garb to go to the local mosque to pray with my family and the entirety of my town.
- Watched and helped slaughter our sheep. I skinned a sheep for the first time ever.
- Ate snacks of fried/grilled goat before lunch
- All the nearby neighbors came and ate lunch with us around 3pm. There were close to 40 people in my compound
- Slept very well that night

Tabaski Day 2:
- Breakfast: Sheep inards and couscous. That was the first time eating sheep brains for breakfast. First time eating them period.
- Church (The Catholic celebration)
- In evening there were not 1 but 2 parties: A "fete Sereer" and a "soiree" The fete was more traditional with lots of drums. The soiree was for the younger teens with loud hip hop music, both Senegalese, French, and American.
** I was already well known, but now I'm known in the town as the Chinese boy who is a great Senegalese dancer...

Tabaski Day 3: Rest, naps, and more sheep inards for breakfast.

Now, life is slowly returning back to normal. For those three days, no one worked, just prayed and ate.

I'm officially partied out. Time to get back to work...

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009