The Importance of Wolof and Learning the Culture

Insomnia. I read over our Intro to Wolof book for four hours in the bathroom, and try to do 20 pushups.

17:20 18:00 (Senegal Time)
Neighborhood Sortie, Sacré Coeur 3

One of the host brothers took us out to see the neighborhood. We took a car rapide for the first time!! It wasn’t actually as scary as I thought it’d be.

soaked in Sacré Coeur 3

Sure, it was crammed (it was amazing how we fit ten MORE people in there, although half of us were hanging off of the back), but the driving was relatively smooth and slow (car rapides are not rapide).

Halfway through the tour, thunderclouds rolled in and we found ourselves in a downpour. The roads ran with reddish brownish rivers, but the rain was at least refreshing.

Michèle, one of the guys at the hotel, takes us to a very nice, perhaps even upscale, but affordable local bar/lounge which ends up with an expatty vibe because of us. It’s nice and cool because of the AC, but unlike the US, people can smoke in bars and I feel like I am dying. I try three local beers: Gazelle (very wheaty), Castel (light and sweet), and Flag (even lighter and sweeter, almost floral)

Our first official Wolof class. Just one hour makes my brain hurt; two hours is exhausting.

In the afternoon, Annelise, Krista, and I went to the Post Office to buy stamps. We also stopped by citydia. OMG AMAZING! FRUITS, VEGETABLES, chocolate!

citydia = an oasis for the privileged

The important lesson from this afternoon was the importance of speaking the local language. I was looking to buy a magazine to make my own envelopes to send mail home. When we stopped in a gas station to find one, it was slightly awkward; we felt foreign. The second that “Salaam Aleekum” left our mouths, everyone’s faces lit up, and the whole atmosphere changed. This happened time after time and we found ourselves so much more motivated to learn this language that we’d originally not been too excited to learn (see: universality of French). It’s so important to speak the language of the local people and to put forth the effort to really communicate with them.

We went to the Baobab Center to have a cultural orientation put on by the African Consultants International NGO.

Preparing for eating ceebujen traditionally.

The highlight of the day was the ceebujen. I was trying to stop eating at a reasonable time, but the oily rice tasted sooo good.

As for the orientation itself… let’s just say that I need to work on my patience. It’s a theme I saw before when I participated in a service trip in Navajo Nation. But I learned a lot about taboos (can’t compliment unless you say kaar, supernatural beliefs, etc).

I meet my host family tonight. Excited!!!


One response to “The Importance of Wolof and Learning the Culture

  1. I’m two days behind in reading, but so far so good! It sounds like you’re doing okay! NEXT UPDATE.

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