Friday, September 26, 2008


this is jessica in mbour, at a cyber cafe on one of the main roads. i am doing fine and had some free time to update family and friends.
the mandinka speakers (there are four of us) are stayin with families in mbour while learning the language and startin demo plots for our tech training. we are in class every morning and then in the afernoon either go to the garden; a field; or do some crosscultural studies. it has been quite the experience, definitely overwhelming a times, a little hard but also good.
it has rained the last two days thankfully so the heat is not as unbearable, and i even went and danced in the rain this morning with my little sisters. yesterday my team and a current peace corps volunteer rode our bikes to a nearby farm and looked a the crops they had growing there. it was absolutely beautiful! baobob trees, acacia trees, fields of millet, sorghum; peanuts, beans, bissap, and more. there was a cool breeze blowing the whole time from the ocean and it was wonderful being ouside of the city for a bit.

we are here in mbour for another five days or so and then head to another site for some tech training with current volunteers. i would type more but need to go. i am missing you all and would love to hear from you soon!

so much love,


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Im Alive

Dear family and friends!
Im safe and sound in Thies Senegal. Im at a ciber cafe right now and using a french keyboard so i apologize for any typeos. Things are going well and I am great.

Africa is HOT right now…its really humid because its the rainy season and people are cranky because they are fasting all day for Ramadan. It is beautiful though and the Senegalese have been nothing but hospitable to our group. There are forty of us here training in four different sectors ; agroforestry, ag extension, small business interprise, and ecotourism. I a, zorking in agroforestry and our group just planted 200 trees with the help of our trainers.

All 40 of us have been placed in homestay villages near Thies. Myself and three others are in Mbour a coastal village on the west side of Senegal. My family is wonderful and I will be living with them for the next couple of weeks. I am beginning to learn Mandinka, a language spoken in quite a bit of West Africa. My host family speaks it but they also speak Wolof, the ,ajor language spoken in Senegal other than french. I ca,e in knowing nothing, have been ,aking a fool of myself trying to understand them, but am co,ing along slowly but surely !

We will be in training for the next 7 weeks and then will be sent to the community we will live in for the following two years. I will speak Mandinka, but will try and pick up some Wolof, and am pri,arily being taught my language in french. So you can imagine that my head is swimming by the end of every day.

Here in Senegal, we are fed many traditional dishes. We always have bread at breakfast, and then some sort of rice or millet dish for lunch and dinner. Because many of the Senegalese are fasting they eat very early ? and then break their fast around 715 with tea, dates, and bread. Then they start eating dinner usually around 930 or 10. I have definitely had to adjust my eating schedule but am doing fairly well so far.

I am posting my contact information so please send me letters, CARE PACKAGES, and of course some love ! I miss you all and would love to hear from you…any calls i receive are free, so if you happen to have a calling carda round dial my number. I hope to be able to post as often as possible but wont know what that will look like until I have a pretty regular schedule !

My love to you all back in the states or wherever you are ! Thanks to the letters and package i already received, its helpful knowing there are people thinking of me !

Love to you all,
Mariama (my senegal name)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mixed Feelings

Well I take off for Philadelphia tomorrow! I will be there for two days and will then head to Senegal! My first two months will be spent in Theis (Chess) which is pretty close to Dakar. I will live with a family, most likely, while going to school and learning the language, customs, and the basic skills I will need to survive. Also, I will most likely get lots of information about trees, planting things, etc. If this all seems a little vague to you, thats because it is for me too. I dont have specific information yet, but as soon as I get there I hope to be able to post more to keep everyone involved!

Here is my address for training! Just for your information if you want to write, number your letters so its easier to keep track of what has actually reached me and what has not...

Jessica Scates
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 299
Thies, Senegal
West Africa

I appreciate you all and am so thankful for your support throughout all my travels! If you have recently moved, could you send me your address (I hope to make letter writing a new hobby). I also hope to be posting pictures up on this blog so you can actually see what I am experiencing.

Well, all my love to you! Please keep me in your prayers and any encouraging words would be wonderful for me throughout these next two years!

God Bless,