Thursday, November 5, 2009


I woke up this morning excited knowing that I had packages waiting for me and was immediately upset by the fact that my sister completely twisted one of the under wires to my bra. This is no small thing for me. It's very upsetting. I now plan on washing my bras although I'm still incredibly happy my sister is doing my clothes. But, I digress from package euphoria...

Emily agreed to meet me at the Post Office with my slips and help me get the parcels back to my bungalow. A slight glitch in the system revealed that my mom is indeed sane and didn't send me 6 packages like I was worried about! A HUGE shout out goes to Lynn who's package was beyond amazing. Not only did it contain sorely needed shaving supplies, one of my favorite movies of all time, my favorite granola bars, PC necessities called Ziplocks, and some delicious treats, but also bubbles. This afternoon was the first time I had ever seen the three year old boy at my house have a friend over so I decided to break out the bubbles. They were mesmerized. I don't think they had ever seen bubbles and they were so excited. Well, they were excited after I correctly positioned the blower since they at first attempted to drink the bubble liquid out of the the bubble pipe. They LOVED it. And now they think I'm awesome, so thank you again Lynn. Ahmed, my little brother, has even opened up to me a lot more today and really tries to communicate. His friend who originally cowered from me in a corner when the scary toubab entered the room now is in love with bubbles. I also gave them one caramel a piece, which really confused them. I had to eat one to prove it was candy because there aren't really gummy candies here since they melt and they were confused until they popped the deliciousness in their mouthes.

Upon returning home, victorious with packages, Emily and I camped out in my room eating some delicious treats and reading magazines. We also started talking about city livin' versus the vil. As I've mentioned before, the country director has challenged my stage to stay at our sites from install until Thanksgiving. Us city dwellers have been receiving some flack about how easy it us for us since we have so many more conveniences. I definitely agree that we have more comforts, but there are definitely cons to living in a big town. When many village volunteers get to site the entire village throws a party for them. People are in the streets and everyone wants to meet them. Not even my entire family was here to greet me. While I enjoy my anonymity as just another toubab in Thies most of the time, it also makes it harder for me to find work because people aren't seeking the new, weird, yet potentially toubab out like they do in the village. It's weird to think that I will never experience the solitude of being the only toubab for miles, but at the same time being near other toubabs creates its own sense of loneliness. Where's my toubab solidarity people? Anyway... moving on.

This afternoon I have to admit I was dreading tutoring. Jamba's (my tutor) first session was intimidating and it's a constant struggle to push myself into more and more intimidating situations, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think he had gaged my level accurately from our first session and he had some role playing activities for us to do which were great. I think it's going to be a good partnership. His wife is incredibly sweet as are the other people who work at the office, including the USAID intern, and it just feels like a really comfortable place. I'm happy with it.

I left tutoring to go back to the school where I teach a computer class. I had spent over 2 hours yesterday looking for an online typing program that I could use to teach these women to type. It was really hard finding one for a French keyboard and that wasn't geared towards kids, but I found one that's great and even has hands on the screen which shows you which fingers to use! The beginning wasn't great. Mme Cissa couldn't get past the first lesson: typing "f" and "g" in different combinations. 45 minutes later success and she really took off! Another woman joined us and it started a little competition which really helped their progress. They got so excited they reached a new level and were really happy. It made me feel great to accomplish something. I know that I just found a program and showed it to these women and cheered them on, but I haven't had a lot of accomplishments on my own so it was great. Mme Cissa is the head secretary for the school and she writes everything down because she can't use a computer. If she can really learn to use Word, Excel, the internet, and to type well, it will help her workload, create a better file system, and improve her efficiency. Computer classes are definitely not what I want my service to be about, but right now teaching two women to type is rewarding.

I do want to add that my day wasn't all roses because on my way home, I was riding my bike, a group of boys chased after calling me the extremely derogatory word for toubab. Even me responding in Wolof didn't deter their mean chant for a couple of blocks, but I have refused to let it ruin my day and I wish there was a way to exact revenge.

Well, it's time for "Marina" aka a ridiculous Brazilian soap opera dubbed in French and if I don't watch it I will be unable to participate in any discussion my family will have tomorrow. Wish me a good dinner!

Ps. A couple more pictures of my house are up!


  1. While we surf the internet in completely different worlds. (I do so sneakily on very very high speed wireless at a cubicle in Silicon Valley, while you likely sit on a rickety chair and use shaky internet in a third world country) I just discovered today that I can listen to Ann Arbor's 107One live on their website and figured this may make you as happy as it made me. Update coming soon I promise!

  2. Good work Lynne! Bubbles=genius! Lynne=thoughtful
    Alyssa you are doing a great job keeping yourself busy and pushing to create opportunities and relationships! You are way ahead of the game! I am glad my sanity is no longer up for debate!

  3. I'm so proud. (Maybe some day your mom will learn how to spell my name.)