Sunday, August 16, 2009

Never Have I Ever...

Washed my clothes in a bucket while Sengealese women laughed at me. That's right, this morning after breakfast and before classes began I got some soap, filled one bucket with soapy water and another bucket with clean water and I washed my clothes. I did it with a couple of my roommates and when we asked the Senegalese help the tricks to washing clothes they looked at us if we were crazy since we've never washed our clothes. They then told us to scrub hard and retired to chairs nearby to watch us and laugh and we tried to wring out our "clean" clothes before dropping them on the dirty ground as we tried to hang them on the line. Yes, I did drop multiple pairs of underwear that were "clean" because they were wrapped up with other things in my bucket. It was pretty humorous. But, I do have clothes that at least smell like soap instead of sweat although clean and dirty they were pretty stiff. It was definitely a sense of accomplishment and I'm wearing clean PJs right now, which is pretty sweet.

Another never have I ever: I have never learned a language in a second foreign language. That's right, I fortunately (unfortunately?) passed my French exam and I started learning Wolof today... in French. My class is conducted totally in French and we're learning Wolof. I'm sure it's going to be pretty intense. Wolof is also super hard to pronounce because it has created letter combinations like nd and nj and mp. Also, there are three different "n"s. Yes, there are three "n"s. Yes, they are all shaped a little different. Additionally, there are no letters g, h, q, or z. In case you were wondering how to say the traditional Wolof greeting it's: nanga def? reply: mannji firek! Cool!

Now, a little more about the class dynamics which I'm sure is what you all really want to hear about. Since we are all business volunteers in my language group you can imagine it's already heating up. Now for a RSB comparison for my Michigan readers.

Me - the fabulous Alyssa
Tamar - my roommate and good friend here who is awesome and amazing at French, she is represented at UM by a 711 girl
Boy 1 - his UM counterpart is Franklin. I'm not kidding they are twins.
Boy 2- James Birney
Boy 3 - David Rice

Need I say more? It's definitely going to get interesting. This group of five is not only my language group and fellow SED volunteers, but also the people I will be living near during my mind numbing, absolutely terrifying home stay which starts tomorrow. I'm really nervous about the home stay because I have only seen the Senegalese utopia of the training compound and the destitute city center. I have no idea what a middle class Senegalese home looks like. It's really nerve racking. I'm going to be dropped off tomorrow night at this family's compound and then I wont see anyone until I see my professor and the other four members of my group the next day for our 8-5 language session. It's going to be a restless night tonight and tomorrow for sure. I just hope the family is nice, the room is clean, and that I don't fall into the squat toilet the first time I try it out. Not to mention that here at the training center they make sure they feed us food and water that wont make us sick. That's all gone tomorrow and I know I will be sick by the time I come back to the training center on Sunday.

These feelings were all compounded by my business training today, which was annoying because a couple people dominate with ridiculous questions to hear themselves talk and a little weird since the PC creates all of their own frameworks instead of using things like Maslow's hierarchy. I just think when there are commonly excepted definitions we should use them instead of making new ones.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. It's been a long, hot, sweaty day in Senegal and I'm nervous about tomorrow. Everything is still good. The people are great for the most part and I'm really starting to make friends. My roommates are especially cool. I also got to go into town again and it was less overwhelming although I lost a fight with the fabric man about price so I didn't get any fabric for my pagne skirt yet. Let me tell you, the prints are amazing ranging from dolphin and chicken print to intricate geometric designs, which I love.

Well, this will be my last post until Sunday since I probably wont have internet in the village where I'm going. I hope everything is great in the old USA. Send me some updates on your lives while I'm out of commission. Here's to hoping for a great and exciting week and to still be in control of my bodily functions on Sunday... here's to hoping. I'll let you know! In the meantime enjoy the pictures of me washing my clothes in a bucket!


  1. Now that you are officially learning Wolof, I think you would be interested in the interview NPR did on the big Senegalese rapper, who sings in wolof:

    (or google “rapper wolof npr”)

    And his stuff is pretty good (maybe you can pick up some vocabulary).

    Good luck on your home stay, and see if you can pick me up a rocket print at the market!

  2. I worry about you matt...

    Alyssa, I have a new found respect for you. I have enough trouble with english and now you are learning languages through languages. Congrats!

    Good luck with the home stay, you will be fine.

  3. Bahaha. I can just see Matt in a traditional senegalese outfit comprised of rocket print fabric. Next to him I picture Alyssa in a print of the us constitution. Losers :)

    Alyssa, today was my first official day as a Bethany. I am already so bored, I have newfound respect for Bethany, and you.

    Goodluck with the homestay!

  4. Your group sounds like Team Dead Sexy has taken quite a funny twist! I hope there is an iPhone in Boy 2's pocket, and that Boy 3 is decked out in a rabbit fur jacket :)

    As promised, I've been checking your blog more frequently than the best wedding website I've ever seen. Both are amazing... I'll e-mail you soon with juicy updates!

  5. Alyssa,

    Not going to lie. My to-do list at work from like 5 days ago when I talked to you online said: Read Alyssa's blog.

    I finally did. It's awesome. I'm hooked. I also want to come visit now.

    Hope your home stay went well.

    I'm also worried you didn't pack enough underwear. I feel like I should send you some. Just in case.

  6. Alyssa,
    I'm so proud of you for being there and dealing with the boredom. I don't know how you're doing it. I got frustrated in Italy because they took siesta's and nothing was open. I can't even imagine sitting under a tree all day (but that may be because I have such a short attention span and wouldn't be able to read for a whole day). I hope that everything starts to become more rewarding!
    Best of luck,



    Lots of love!,
    Arend, Kissi, Taylor, and Jake!