Hello to you all from Thies!
I am currently typing from the computer of my homestay in Thies which has been a completely different experience from where I live in the village! I am here for two weeks of training and then a conference with pcvs from all over west africa in Dakar. Its a jam-packed february but i will take it over some of the slow days you experience at times! Things are going well I am learning a lot more about agroforestry-seed collection, seed preparation, alternatives to using wood, etc and getting excited bout bringing those things and ideas back to my friends and family in my village! Thies, the training center, and all other pcv volunteers from my stage are doing great and it has been fun to reconnect with them all! I am also currently learning a new language for these two weeks! Pulla Futaa is a pulaar language spoken by some in senegal! There are some cases where the words are similar to Mandinka but for the most part it is very different both structurally and its vocabulary! Its been good though because about half my village speaks pulaar and now i will be able to speak with them on a somewhat basic level!
I was having a convo with my sister the other day and wanted to bring it up here to see if anyone had any comments they wanted to make or thoughts about what i say! I have noticed in Senegal it is much easier to be me! I dont know if this is a mixture of things but here is what I am thinking. First of all the people of Senegal are very non-judgemental in that they believe it is completely wrong to judge the actions of another person and then tell that person what they think. Second I think because of this and the fact that the culture is completely foreign and i am completely foreign in it I feel as if I dont have to live up to the expectations i might feel the need to live up to in the states. The communication, culture, language, and a whole multitude of things are either unknown to me or I am still very unsure of them that all i can be is myself and hope for the best. In the states however I know the cultural norms the standards set by society and the host of things that goes along with that so I feel more pressure to live up to those things and show myself in a particular light.
In many many ways this has been really good for me! Yes there are times I feel very stupid, out of it, bored, lonely, etc but during those times the only thing i have to resort to being is myself! I was wanting to know what people thought and maybe it will shed some light into whatever you might be experiencing wherever you are. I guess i just didnt realize how much of an impact culture and societys norms could have on a person. It has been helpful for me just to look at that and then question why is it that i am doing the things I am doing and acting the way i am acting.
Those are just some thoughts! Hope it made sense to you all and let me know how you are doing wherever you are!
Lots of love