Thursday, October 29, 2009

Holding On For Dear Life

Waking up early is never fun, but when it's then paired with waiting at the office for over 2 hours before doing anything it's just incredibly frustrating. Thankfully I had a Newsweek and a New Yorker to keep me company.

The crux of the problem this morning seemed to be a power struggle between Diof and someone he calls "big boss," but I have no idea what this persons actual title or job is. Getting down to the nitty gritty, Diof went to the Prefect (city official) to straighten things out and I read my Newsweek about Ted Kennedy, while Chris did Sodoku, and we listened to the women in the office argue over scheduling. So much fun. Especially when I know I have to endure an entire day of accounting lessons in Wolof.

Getting to Tasset was an adventure in itself. We had to take a taxi to the garage (place where you can get cars going to different cities), to take a sept-place (station wagon that seven people are crammed into) to our final destination. Unfortunately, both legs of our journey turned into 9 places, which sucked. I had the privilege of sitting next to the door on our way there which meant I got to sit sideways on my hip holding onto the ceiling of the car for dear life because the door of the car kept flying open every time we hit a bump. The driver kept yelling at me not to touch the door because I was forcing it open. This is more easily said than done since there were four people in the middle sit and I was by far and away the smallest occupant. I made it to Tasset in one piece though although one of my legs had fallen asleep and my arms hurt from holding on. Oh well. Adventures in Africa.

I hope I never get used to the complete lack of planning that I'm faced with every day here. We arrive in Tasset and the women are waiting for us and we walk to see where the millet machine will be held and then they lead us the classroom for the formation. They had all of this planned and knew we were going to teach a class, but we had to wait for almost 45 minutes while someone went to get chairs and a blackboard. It's mind boggling and just adds so much time to the day of useless waiting. By this time I was onto the New Yorker about fashion week in case you were wondering...

The lesson went really well. Diof presented and then I was really impressed when one of the women got up and redid the whole lesson. It was clear she had a good grasp on the information and we even demonstrated a much more complicated ledger than we had in the previous village. It is interesting to see how Diof leads the women to find the right answers themselves or throws out incorrect answers for them to correct. It's definitely a very different method of teaching than we use in the States. I'm trying to keep my mind open to different learning and teaching philosophies, but it just seems incredibly convoluted, time consuming, and inefficient. But, that's the name of the game here. Promise me that when I come home you will all remind me I like to walk fast, have a purpose, and be efficient. It's difficult to strike a balance between adapting to what works here in Senegal and not losing myself. I'm supposed to be here to help businesses and efficiency will definitely do that. I'm really proud of myself and very surprised that this inefficiency and untimeliness hasn't completely sent me over the edge as it would at home. Fortunately, I have realized nothing is in my control here and I've been attempting to go with the flow as much as I possible can. Another achievement for myself, the control freak.

The worst part of the day was that we weren't fed. During break time Chris and I attempted to buy sandwiches, but Diof requested we didn't since he assumed the women would make us lunch and then be offended if we didn't eat a lot. They didn't feed us. It made it almost impossible to listen to Wolof and I snuck my New Yorker under the table to read. Don't tell. When I finally got home I ran to my now fully stocked cabinet and gorged myself. I even remembered to bring snacks today, but it just wasn't enough. That's the problem with going out to these villages. I miss a good lunch with my family and we never know if we're going to get fed. Good thing I made more delicious oatmeal today since I didn't get home until 5.

For dinner we had fried fish with fried onions and bread. In the vil this would be an amazing meal, but now that I'm the princess of Thies I have to say I was a little disappointed. I did refrain from using the utensils provided for me since my dad wasn't using them tonight and I think I gained some bonus points for my picking fried fish off the bones skills. A skill I honed during Ramadan when I ate it every day for lunch. After dinner my mom forced me to eat a bowl of fataya, which is pulverized fish fried in a dough ball. Good, but useless nutritionally. I also had one with a massive fish bone in it, which got lodged in between two of my teeth and I just spent the last 10 minutes extricating with floss. This is my life. And I just got attacked by a giant grasshopper...

In other news, I put up a couple of pictures from the village I went to today.

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