Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Training is starting to wear on everyone and I was supposed to present my infamous PowerPoint and video on my tournee today so I took my box of delectable Teddy Grahams, thank you Kristen, and set off for the center early this morning. After listening to another volunteer, who I had visited on my tournee, give a very interesting session on costing (Dioss and I have SO much work to do!) I got pulled out of the session to go to the opening of the American Corner at the Cultural Center. Instead of having me present, Nicole wanted me to go to the opening of the American Corner and meet everyone. The American Corner, for those of you who don't remember, is a room in the cultural center full of English books, information on the US, computers with internet access, and the reason why I might actually use the room even though it's completely out of the way... AIR CONDITIONING!

I have actually been the American Corner before when I went to the visa meeting with Dioss last month so I had seen the facilities, but it was cool to watch the opening ceremony and meet some more people from the embassy. One interesting cultural fact that I observed while I was there was gift giving. I wouldn't have understood this if I hadn't given my sisters a little present a few weeks ago. I thought when I gave my sisters a gift they would open it and it would be awesome and like Christmas. Well, Senegalese people like to open presents in privates unlike Americans so they can inspect their present and enjoy it before someone else asks to take it. Makes sense. Plus, who enjoys fake liking a present? Anyway, the Senegalese director of the American Corner gave a person from the embassy a present and the American immediately went to open the gift until a Senegalese person took it back from him and put it in a bag. I explained the situation to the other American and felt pretty badass about my cultural knowledge and integration (granted I made the same mistake mere weeks ago).

I'm glad I went because I want to present at big events in Thies and I did make a couple of good contacts... I met the curator of the art museum (yeah, I'm marketing Dioss hard core)... but I didn't get to give my presentation. Nicole said she'll fit me in some other time. I actually do hope that I get to give it because I worked hard on the presentation and it's really pretty!

After training I went out to dinner with my friends and saw the chaos that is Thies right not. Friday is the Gamou. Gamou is a huge holiday here for the birth of the prophet Muhammad and takes place in Tivuauone, my home stay town. Since Thies is in such close proximity to Tivuauone, Thies is also chaos. By chaos I mean two way streets are now one, some streets are completely closed down, there are buses everywhere, people all over, music blasting, weaves flying, and a 5 minute cab ride from the center of town took me over 20 to get home tonight. It's intense. What's also intense are Jeenaba's and Awa's hair weaves. They wouldn't let me take a picture tonight because the weaves still aren't done, we're on day three - weaves are evidently a work in progress, but they are huge. The Gamou is a bigger holiday than Korite or Tabaski which I've written about before. Thies will probably be a disaster zone until next week and my mom's side of the family will all leave tomorrow for the festival. Tivuauone which is a city of 50k people will grow to over 2 million for the event.

The other big news story here in Senegal is the fact that it's really freaking hot. There pretty much was no "cold season" this year and today was hot. As in, I'm sweating and sitting down hot. I forgot how much I truly hate the heat. The next 9 months sure are going to be fun. I'm currently having an internal struggle about whether or not to turn on my fan. Is it better to turn on the fan so I can sleep comfortably tonight or should I try and condition myself so I could potentially not think it's so hot later on? A difficult decision. I think I'm going to turn on my ceiling fan, but leave my floor fan off. Yes, I am a princess and yes I know that some volunteers have no electricity and therefore no fan, but I already caught Khady topless in front of a fan and she's Senegalese so I don't feel too badly!

To end this disjointed post I would like to continue my shout outs from yesterday because I totally forgot to mention that the Barber family sent me a fabulous new t-shirt and my bible aka People magazine's 2009 Yearbook. Awesome.

Additional shout out to Shirley! I got another letter today that you sent on the 19th! That means the letter got here in 5 days! New record. The other amazing part about this letter. The post office guys gave it to the PC secretary who brought it to the center for me so I didn't have to go to the post office. Sweet.

I'm updating this post three minutes after I posted, but my dad just got home, it's currently 10:30pm, because traffic is so bad because of this holiday! He's a champion... and potentially slightly crazy for doing his commute!


  1. this holiday sounds great - like a greenwood block party turned religious


  2. You know next year at Hanukkah I'm going to encourage all the women in our family to get weaves! Grandma T's hair is a little short...Diane and Cindy are you ready for a little updo?! Diane I know your class would deeply appreciate the multiculturalism. I know Sarah will be all over this project. We are just too conservative. We have to learn how to celebrate with a little more chutzpah! How would that translate in Wolof?