Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trying to break some future wives

This past weekend Hawa Ba, Sira Sanokho, and I did some "girls' empowerment" (i.e. wife-breaking, to the Senegalese) activities at the middle school in our region.  It was really stressful, especially when we showed up at the school on Thursday (two days before our events were supposed to happen) to reconfirm everything with the school principal, only to find out he had gone off to Dakar for vacation and had done none of the things he had promised to do to get things ready.  (I have not yet forgiven him, probably never will).  But luckily the teachers at the school were really nice and willing to help out, so we were able to make the activities happen anyway.

First, Saturday afternoon as the kids were getting out of class for the day, we had a ceremony to recognize the girls who had the top grades in each class.  We gave a little speech about how the education of girls is important for the development of the country, and how these girls have worked really hard and should be congratulated on their achievements.  The whole idea, of course, being to boost the girls' self-esteem and encourage other girls to stay in school and study hard too.

Then that evening we showed a film (made by Peace Corps volunteers!) in the middle of Dialacoto about the importance of girls staying in school and getting an education.  There weren't that many girls who were able to come watch it (since we had to show it after dark and it's not really safe for them to be out by themselves at night), but there were tons of boys and men watching, which I think is also a good thing.

Then on Sunday the Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Trainer, who also does a lot of work with Senegalese girls, came from Thies to talk to our girls about staying in school and how to deal with common challenges Senegalese girls face.  The girls were really quiet for her whole talk, so we worried a little bit that they weren't finding it very interesting, but at the end when they were asked for a second time what they wanted to be when they grew up, one of the girls changed her original answer, a teacher, to a trainer who will teach women to know who they are, which is what our speaker had told the girls her job was.  So I think maybe it really made a difference to them after all.

That was my last big activity that I had planned before the end of my Peace Corps service (coming up frighteningly soon!), so it was really nice to finish on such a good note.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy holidays

The last day I was in Thies for Operation Smile I got an email inviting me for an interview for a job I had applied for, way back over six months ago. So I came up to Dakar to do some paperwork, and I've been really busy trying to get ready for the interview (which I'm trying not to get my hopes up about - I'll say more if I get the job). But I did find some time over Christmas and New Year's to have some fun, so here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

Just before Christmas, the nice American expat whose house I've been staying at in Dakar took us to Keur Moussa monastery to see an interesting fusion of traditional Catholic mass with African music, and afterward we went to Bandia Nature Reserve, where we saw





horse antelope!

and rhinos!

Then for New Year's, Mariama and I went to St. Louis, where we

rode horses on the beach! (Which I've always wanted to do).

And then we went to this weird place called Lompoul, which is a mini-desert in the middle of Senegal, and we

rode camels!

Overall, an excellent, excellent last holiday in Senegal!  Happy (very late) holidays, everyone!