Linkon was one of the names of the students in my group this week at English camp. We let all of the students pick their own American name and then gave them fancy name tags with which to identify themselves. There were the names that I guessed would be popular before camp even started such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Akon. These names were contrasted against classics such as Bob, Susan, and Jessica. There were also the utterly ridiculous rapper names such as Weezy, but my favorite was Linkon. Linkon is a combination of Abraham Lincoln and Akon. This is not a joke and therefore all the more hilarious. Linkon also had no idea what was going on the vast majority of the week which made him an even more entertaining character.
All humorous names aside, the kids were great all week. Though it felt like I was often pulling teeth my group because they were shy and we didn’t really have a ring leader, I was definitely impressed with their level of English, their endurance throughout the week, and the defining Senegalese trait of being able to put up with anything. Overall I think the camp was a great success. The students, hopefully, learned some new English grammar and vocabulary, they definitely got to practice their English and they learned a lot of new games and had the opportunity to meet students from other middle schools throughout Thies. The organization of the camp was appalling even though I had set incredibly low standards. When I initially signed up for the camp it sounded like the PCVs were going to have supporting roles and that we would show up to a schedule and participate along with the campers. I should have known that this was a gross overestimate of what was actually going to happen because we were totally in charge and received no support from our Senegalese counterparts. They balked when we asked them to unlock doors. All in all though the camp was a great success.
I only really realized this today, the last day of camp. We had a talent show early in the morning, group sang along to Akon’s “Oh Africa” and did a little dance, and then the rest of the day was free time while we waited hours to receive the celebratory lunch of chicken and fries, which was a huge treat for the campers. While I group may have been hesitant to participate all week and I wasn’t really sure if they were having a good time, my fears were all resolved today when I saw them in action with their friends. They had absorbed all of the games we taught them and actually seemed to enjoy them as they ran around the school yard playing them with their friends. If there’s anyone who can understand speaking a foreign language to native speakers and feeling self-conscious about it it’s PCVs, so I can see how the students would be intimidated or embarrassed to go for broke in front of us since in Wolof culture especially one is ridiculed for mistakes. I was really happy to see that they had learned something and seemed to enjoy themselves. At the very least the girls got out of morning chores and cooking lunch for a week during their vacation which had to be a treat.
The camp was exhausting, but I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with PCVs all week and taking showers at the center since my family is approaching two weeks without water. I was falling into a little rut and this definitely gave me something to do and a sense of accomplishment. The camp also brought me to today, which happens to be my 51st week in country. A week from today is my one year anniversary in Senegal. I can’t believe it’s been a year!
The other thing that has been happening is radio silence. I haven’t been updating my blog or responding to emails because the phone/ internet company in Senegal has been on strike so there hasn’t been any service.
Check back tomorrow for camp pictures!
Messy, but Warm
6 months ago