Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time is Fast!

Time is fast.
Today is LAST day in Senegal. I really enjoyed this three weeks, especially the last three weeks. I might acclimate myself to the Senegalese life last one week.
After the Wolof language class, we could greet with people in Wolof. I knew that the communication by the language which used in the country is very important. When Senegalese knew that we are studying Wolof, they taught us some Wolof words. Language makes great communication. Also, I thought that if I could speak Wolof or French very well, the life in Senegal should be more fun.
However, if we cannot speak Wolof or French, people are still kind and friendly. I believe that their hospitality is really true. I had two host families in Linguere. Both host mothers speak Pulaar, not French and Wolof, although over 90 % of population in Senegal speak Wolof. However, they tried to talk to me in Pulaar, and stay with me during my home stay.
Beginning of the trip in Senegal, I doubted or thought strange their hospitality, because I read a book before the trip. The fact is that Senegal is a developing country and there are so many people who do not have enough food, job and so on. However, when we were lost to go to the beach in Yeumbeul, six or more children guided us, and we played at the beach. I believed that people in Senegal must be friendly to everyone. They might think that white people have money and give African people money or something. At first, I was confused whether they have real hospitality or just they hope they can get money from white people. However, now, I believe that Senegalese has real hospitality without thinking money because everyone who I met in Senegal is so kind. I want to bring back my home their hospitality spirits.
In Mbour, I went to another town, next to Mbour, Selly by walk. Selly is a resort area for foreigners. I saw many while people out there. Senegalese asked me something in French or Wolof to sell their products, but someone is not; someone introduced me the town, so I really enjoyed taking with them. They answered all my questions about Senegal, and we talked our own cultures, home countries and so on.
These memories is my treasure forever more than the products which I bought in Senegal. I will miss Senegal.

14th May

Ants are running on my laptop. Water in Linguere is always warm even we turn a cold faucet. Internet is unstable. We take shower more than two times per a day because we are all covered in sweat. HOWEVER, we have leaned the culture through these experiences what Senegalese people do. There are so many beautiful things. As the most important thing, people are very friendly, and greeting is so important in Senegal. How many times have we said “Salaa maale kum (Please be upon you)”a day to strangers? When we go out, people greet to us in Wolf or French. When we visit house as our program, people says that we can come back anytime because it is also your house. They have very good hospitality. They share time, food anytimes. It might be hard to invite strangers like us who from a different countries. In addition, we are staying with host families. Julia and I have lived at Aminata’s house now. Our host mom does not speak Wolof and French, only speaks Pular. Although we learned Wolf, we did not learned Pular, so we would learn everything from their culture such as food, behaviors and religion. They have many things which we forget or do not have.  Maimi

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Atlantic, Really?

When you live in land locked Iowa it's hard to imagine working on your computer as you listen to the Atlantic Ocean roll in and back out. But that is exactly what I am doing as I sit here lost in thought about these past two weeks.
Senegal has had it's moments of challenges as we tried to adjust to a new culture as well as sweltering heat. However, all along the way the people of Senegal made it easier for us as they tried to make us comfortable. Ataya, the time consuming but delicious tea, was served to us, homes we visited brought their only fan to our rooms so we might stay cool, and large platters of food were offered to us. Intense pleasure registered on t faces when we greeted the Senegalese with our very limited understanding of the Wolof language. No matter that we made a lot of silly mistakes; they showered gracious hospitality on us wherever we went.
Salaamalle Kum! (Peace be upon you!) While Senegal is predominately Muslim, some say as much as 95% the greeting Salaamalle Kum includes wishes of peace as do many other common greetings here. While U.S. news reports enjoy sensationalizing religious disagreements, conflicts, and injustice the truth is that diverse religious people coexist peacefully here. Perhaps U.S. reporters should spend a month and Senegal and report to our citizens what they will discover here. Jamm rekk, alxamdulilaay! (Peace only, Praise be to God!) Kathy Traetow

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Education in Senegal

    Senegal does not have mandatory education for children let alone a good public school system. The public schools in Senegal do not have enough space for the amount of school age children there are as well as they do not have money to keep the schools functioning. The children of Senegal have barely been to school this year because of teachers on strike for not being paid and students on strike for not being taught. It would only cost less than 1% of what the world spends on weapons to put every child in the world in school, and yet there are still children who have no education. The children of Senegal do not have a good way of being taught. If people want their children to be educated they send them to private school, even many public school teachers send their children to private school. The children who go to private school end up with a good education, so might even argue that it is better than an education in the United States.
   Both the public and private school system here is different than in the United States, here children go to school around nine in the morning and go till one in the afternoon, and then they have a break for lunch and the students go home and then school starts again around three or four and they go till five or six in the evening. The children here spend a lot of time in school and studying. From a young age children are taught to greet everyone and shake their hands, which goes along with the hospitality of Senegal. Children in Senegal also learn many languages at a young age, they learn the language of their village or tribe along with french when they start school, so most children know 2-3 languages by the time the turn five. Although the private school system is relatively good the public school system is not. The country does not have the resources to educate all of the children in Senegal which is why they ask people to enroll their children in private school if they can afford it. The country hopes to soon be able to allow all children to go to school and eventually make it mandatory. The country is in good spirits about the future of the country and the educational system with the transition of a new President. 
   It is so sad that a country cannot afford to keep the schools running and educate the young people of Senegal. If the young people of Senegal were educated they might be able to industrialize and the rates of undernourishment could decrease.  One of the major problems is that many people do not know how to read or write their language because they do not go to school. The people of Senegal need to be educated on how to farm and how to make the food and water last through the dry season. Right now in Senegal the animals are all thin and hungry because there is not enough food, if there was more agricultural education people could know how to make the food last. I have seen how they are trying to help women who are uneducated learn a trade. The Evangelical Lutheran church of Senegal has programs set up to help women learn how to sew, embroider, learn french, things that will help them make a living and have a better life. If programs like this continue the women of Senegal will be able to provide for their families along with the education system improving. My hope is that the children of Senegal will soon be able to go to school and thrive because the people of Senegal are very smart and they have a much better work ethic than Americans do and I know if they get a good education system set up they will be able to match or surpass the educational standards of the United States.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday, Mother's Day

Here in Senegal they don't celebrate Mother's Day until June but we went ahead and celebrated today anyway with a worship service translated into three languages and a freshly prepared goat dish for lunch.

Afterwards we had a refreshment of a banana flavored yogurt drink with ICE CHUNKS. This was the best treat ever since the temperature is 107 F. We are currently in Linguere, Senegal which is located just on the edge of the Sahara Desert. People here know how to stay cool by sitting under the shade trees and moving slow during the hottest part of the day. We are learning a lot from them and once again being treated so graciously with copious amounts of fresh food everywhere we go.

This evening we will have supper at our host home of Dirk and Sarah and their two daughters and later visit the tailor to have some cloth we have bought made into skirts.  Tomorrow evening we begin our host stays although we have already met our family's today at church.

Ba beneen, Kathy

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Country of Hospitality

   We have now been in Senegal for a week which means that we have experienced a weeks worth of hospitality. The country of Senegal is known for their hospitality and are extremely welcoming to everyone. We have had many different types of food since we have arrived here but the common theme is that you are served family style, which in Senegal means that there is one plate and enough spoons for everyone. A unique thing about Senegal is that people do not invite you to their house you invite yourself into their homes, even though in the United States people might think you are rude but here people like it and encourage it and will not turn you down if you show up at their front door. If the family does not have enough food the mother or some of the people who live there will go with out food so their guests have enough to eat. In Senegal there is a lot of poverty so when you are on the streets of Senegal you will see many children begging for food and at night they will go to people's houses and they will feed the children what they can. The people of Senegal truly want to help their community and think of others first. I feel like this is a good attitude to have because we can always learn from each other and help others because God has graciously given us more than we need, so we need to find ways to use our excess in order to help people. I think one of the reasons people are so open to giving is because of the high population of Muslims here and one of the pillars of Islam  is almsgiving or giving to the needy and people feel that when they give food to the poor they are fulfilling one of the pillars, which they are and they can see the direct impact that it has on the young children.
    A common dish here is fish with rice and vegtabales, because the capital of Senegal Dakar is surrounded by water the main food that people eat here is fish because it is very cheap compared to other animals here. Although in the United States we can go weeks without eating fish because it is expensive and the quality is not always good, the Senegalese people eat it almost everyday because it is easy for them to buy and because it is healthy for them. In this picture it is chicken and rice in an onion sauce that resembles a french onion soup but sweeter. When eating in Senegal you eat what is in your invisible triangle, there is usually a lot of rice and sauce and then the meat and vegetables are divided up between the people eating. Because the Senegalese people are so hospitable they will constantly try to get you to eat more because you come first in their house. They will continue to push food to your side as a way of being nice and sharing their food.
   In Senegal around 90-95 percent of people are Muslim and the remaining people Christian, but there is a good bond between the two religions here. In Senegal because it is very common for multiple generations to live together, there could be Christians and Muslims living together in harmony. The people of Senegal like the consistency so they work hard to keep it. We have visited both Christian and Muslim families in the short week that we have been here and have heard from almost all of them that there are both Muslims and Christians in there family and that they have been excepted. In most families they will share holidays even if it is a holiday that they do not celebrate. So if it is a Christian holiday they will invite the Muslims over and cook for them and if it is a Muslim holiday they will do the same for the Christians.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Exciting Things are happening

Today was church, but church here in Senegal is very different from that of church in the states. First of all church lasts for 3 hours compared to the hour that church usually last in the States, but I was told that in South Africa church usually lasts for 2 hours. The way that there church is run is very similar to what a Lutheran Church Service would be like in the states. Although I have been to a Lutheran Church service in the States and could see the similarities between them. When I am at home I call a Evangelical Free Church my home church and we do things very differently, for instance we sing a lot similar to a ELCA church but we do our singing all at one time so our service opens with a half hour of singing and then we go into announcements and our message and then we close with singing. Lutherans tend to take communion every Sunday but at my church we only take it once a month.
    Today after church we went to explore the city of Dakar, which is growing more populated and more modern. They have recently been influenced by western style, which means that there are now big shopping malls, cell phones, and lots of cars. During the day there are lots of venders on the street trying to sell you there stuff which ranges from water, jewelry, clothing, and art. Most people trying to sell you their stuff are so determined to sell it that they will not take no for an answer. Due to the fact that we are American they think that they can get us to buy things, but really they just annoy us into not buying from them, they also think that because we are from America that we do not know the price of things so they raise the price drastically. Venders will follow you for many blocks trying to get you to buy their things and even if you continue to tell them no they think you will change you mind. Selling you things on the street is a big thing in Senegal and is the only source of income for many people in Senegal.
     While downtown we say the President's palace which is ironically white like the White House is.In Senegal it is illegal to walk in front of the Palace and take pictures, but you can stand across the street and take pictures.The army is influenced heavily by the French partly because the French we in control for so long here. The palace is a beautiful monument here in Dakar, you could even say it is picture perfect like out of a movie, which I like to compare the Palace to the show Babar which is about an elephant who is King. The palace shares many similar things traits of other heads of countries. First as I mentioned before the palace is white like President Obama's house. Another thing is that there are two flags that fly about the Palace, one is the flag of the country and the other is a smaller flag that has the initials of the President in this case the President is Makey Sal so it would be MS, and when that is flying it means he is in the Palace. In England when the Queen is in they also raise a flag to show she is there. Although the Palace looks very nice and well kept the area around the palace along with the rest of Senegal is polluted with poverty and distress. The country has not come up with a way to help the citizens of Senegal strive to greatness, which leaves many people sleeping and eating on the street begging for anything they can get their hands on. Even though many people of Senegal have little to eat the people who have plenty are more than happy to share their food with those less fortunate. Which is why Senegal is called the country of Hospitality.