Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Junior Achievement

After standing on the side of the road for 20 minutes waiting for Talla and a Peace Corps to pick me up while they waited 20 minutes next to the round-point (communication error), Talla and I made our way to the technical high school in Thies to discuss starting a Junior Achievement program. At our meeting, Talla did most of the talking describing the program and answering questions and I sat there as the token toubab adding a few comments here and there. It does seem that a couple of the teachers are interested in the program and told me they were willing to help me. They saw that their students learning some basic practices could really help them after graduation since so many people do try to open a business.

My one main concern is that this technical high school is advance. They have great Bosch machinery, air conditioning everywhere (!), and what seems like dedicated teachers so I'm worried they will be aiming too high. The goal of Junior Achievement is to teach through doing and I'm worried they're going to want to start a car mechanic shop, they actually have a great auto shop classroom, and that's a much bigger project. When Junior Achievement presented at IST the example they used was a group of students who sold sparkly bras they had bedazzled (I kid you not) so one teacher's idea of having a shop to repair refrigerators could be a little far fetch. I'm always one for a grand and outlandish idea, but I actually do want them to learn something so I might have to reign in expectations.

I will say that this was the most organized, well funded, and air conditioned (!) school I've been to in Senegal. The metal working shop was awesome and they had THREE count them 1,2,3 different models of trash cans! I wanted to put in a personal order for 1,000 cans and put them on every "street" corner in Thies. I know that one of the goals of the Mayor's office is putting more public trash cans out. Synergies?

The meeting was fairly exhausting. This is my first real venture outside my inner circle after IST and the language was rough. Meeting new people and getting used to their accents, especially in Wolof, is very difficult and I was really tired after we finally left. It did show me that I still need to keep pushing myself to get out there and talk to more people. My family and Dioss understand my terrible Wolof and I can easily understand their accents because I'm used to it. Standing in front of a class of teenagers/ people my own age and attempting to conduct a class in Frolof is incredibly intimidating at this point. I still need to get all the lesson plans and literature from Junior Achievement, but I'm going to take the plunge as soon as I get back from trip.

Since this morning was highly productive and yesterday afternoon was so incredibly aggravating, I let myself hang out with the fam for the afternoon. My family time included watching Deenba make tea while she questioned me about what's going to happen on my trip, watching Deenba do laundry while she questioned me about my trip, and talking about sweet it would be if balloons and guns were attached to airplanes with Ahmed and one of his friends. Ahmed and his main buddy, Ibrahima, have figured out that I'm pretty much the only person in the house with listen to them for hours as they chatter about attaching balloons and guns to planes. We also did some coloring, which is getting around the neighborhood. Now little kids want to come color. Maybe I should start a coloring afternoon once a week. Who am I kidding, I can barely stand two for 30 minutes there's no way I could do the neighborhood!


  1. High School sounds fantastic full of motivated people. Could be wondeful to partner with. You've got a lot of coals in the fire right now.
    I've got to say I never pegged you for the coloring queen!

  2. Alyssa,

    You could by the Captain kangaroo of Senegal. It is also easier to understand coloring than Wolof, it may be relaxing and spur their creativity.