Monday, April 26, 2010

Homosexual Rice

Creating low expectations is the key to success for my Peace Corps experience. Therefore, today I really didn't expect the people at the Technical High School to remember that we had a meeting to talk about Junior Achievement. While I had set my expectations low, they decided to do the complete opposite and apparently think I'm the second coming. I thought I was meeting with two teachers, one of whom doesn't shake hands with women and I made the mistake of trying to shake his hand multiple times (embarrassing), to discuss how they thought Junior Achievement fits into their curriculum. What I got was not only a meeting with them, but also the principal of the school who is ALL about Junior Achievement. They are really excited and I'm really terrified.

The teachers and the principal decided that it would be best if I worked with people who had recently graduated, but have yet to find jobs. The vast majority of people who graduate from the technical high school want to be entrepreneurs, but are given no business training. That's supposedly where I come in. To say I'm intimidated would be the understatement of the century. With my limited language skills, even in French, this is going to be an uphill battle.

Luckily, the technical high school allows former students to use the machinery at the school to further their skills and their businesses. The goal of Junior Achievement is to teach business through the hands on experience of creating your own business. I'm adapting this slightly and hoping to take the people who show up to my formation next Monday down the path of creating a freelance business through the school for residents of Thies. The idea is that with marketing (no marketing currently exists) that we can inform people in Thies that they can get their cars, refrigerators, etc fixed at the technical high school for cheap. This idea has several benefits: A. I feel much more comfortable with marketing and strategy and B. I've proven myself to be an arts and crafts all-star here in Senegal.

I'm really, really, really nervous about how this is going to work out. I'm definitely intimidated by the students who are my age and that I wont be able to communicate well enough for them to learn anything/ not waste their time. Next week is just a meet and greet and explanation of Junior Achievement so hopefully I can handle that. I think this would be incredible with the program even quasi works so I'll keep plugging along.

Lunch was awesome. Khady cooked and we had lunch before 4pm which is a miracle unto itself and she made my favorite lunch. Guess what it's called. Homosexual rice. I kid you not. In Wolof, homosexual directly translates to a boy-girl and this dish is called boy-girl rice and it's delicious. Why is it called gay rice? Well, because it's rice which women like, but it's spicy like how men like it. No, it doesn't really make that much sense to me either. We've had this dish a couple of times, but I asked the name for the first time today and when my mom said it I gave her a quizzical look and she thought I didn't understand. I explained that I did, but I thought I had misheard. This made everyone erupt in laughter. It's just so funny when the toubab gets the joke. The other great part about the meal was this delicious sauce Khady made. It was roasted tomatoes with hot pepper and onions and lots of MSG and it was great. It was also unbelievably spicy. No one else could eat and although I was crying throughout lunch it was too good not to eat. My family loved this. They couldn't get enough that I was crying and my nose was running, but that I kept eating. They pronounced me officially Senegalese and my mom shook her boob at me with love. It was a tender moment.

This afternoon, I laid low at home and deep cleaned my room. I got mad props for my efforts. Even Deenba said my skills are improving, which is a big complement because we joke around a lot. It was really hot today, but it's cooling down so I'm going to go help with dinner and watch some TV in preparation to teach Senegalese people marketing!


  1. Alyssa,

    Remember baby steps are what will make the JA work. You have already gotten it started by getting a larger group then you thought in the planning stages. While they may not do anything latter they were at least interested and motivated to help get the process started. Relative to repairs, who does them now? Is it everyone for themselves or do they just let stuff sit if it does not work? I know based on earlier comments that that someone keeps the cars running forever.


  2. It is really good to be terrified with a professional challenge! This is normal unlike all the other challenges you have faced in the last 9 months. You know what to do. Prepare for every possibility and remain flexible when none of those things happen. Your language skills won't matter that much if the students are confident that you know the material and you do.

  3. what would cheesy rice be called?

  4. I appreciate you going to there to help out, thank you for that.
    I must say that some of your materiel here is misleading. It does not represent Senegal.
    Marketing has been taught in Senegal for longtime. and yes people do market their products. You see billboards, flyers, and all sort of media marketing. No, it is not like here where people would buy anything as long as it is being shown to them on tv, magazines, newspapers etc...People are smart not to fall for just good marketing. Your product has to be good and that a lone is the best marketing strategy in Senegal. word of mouth.
    It would make your stay more favorable if you dont compare USA and Senegal, they are totally different in all aspects. Eventhough people are not rich, they are happier than rich people here in the states. Everyone there socializes. You mention some man not wanting to shake your hand. Dont take that personal. That is someone who respect his wife and follows his religion's teaching-not to have any physical contact with any woman whom you are not married to or related to. I know it is hard to leave a confortable life here in the states and living in Senegal. The family you are staying with, give you much love and respect not because you are American, not because you are white, or black. They do that because that is what they know and that is how they are. People are friendly, very friendly to almost everyone who is open minded,but if you see yourself being better than them in anyway, that would translate to trouble. They will forsake you no matter who you are. Respect, respect and respect, we all are humans and God created all of us brothers and sisters.
    Keep up the good work and thank you again.

  5. I am very offended after watching the pictures you posted and the comments below each picture.
    It seem like you are not in Senegal to help, but to observe their way of life. Just remember, those people, they dont want to be you, never. They would be very disappointed if they know that you are posting these pictures with the mean comments. You life high life doesnt mean everyone else is and should. If you dont like it there why cant u just leave instead of talking about it, nobody forced you to go. Where you expecting to be in Lasvegas or Los angeles? There are a lot of nice pictures you could have taken to show on your blog, but you chosed to take only negative images. One can take nasty pictures here in usa. Those are attitudes people dont like about some foreigners who come there. Remember, you dont have to be there and they give you a room to live in with no charge. You would charge them if it was in the states or send them to hotels and charge them for the foods as well. Be thankful