Culture Shock and Awe

I roll over and check my watch, five AM. The mosque is right on time with the call to prayer from its loudspeaker. A rooster and goat give their own versions of the call close by. I’ll try to sleep a little longer, but with sun rising and children stirring my effort is most likely futile.

Breakfast will be a baguette with chocolate spread, hastily eaten before I head to my language teacher’s house. There I fill my brain with Pulaar for hours until I go back to my compound for lunch. Now it is the hottest part of the day. All there is to do is search for shade and drink tea. Lunch is always rice with fish, the national dish of Senegal, eaten communally around a large bowl. My host mother and sisters pick off pieces of the small fish, tossing them in front of me. I am quick to scoop them up, eager for the source of protein. In the afternoon I rest before working in the school garden. There my group and I practice agriculture techniques to use at our permanent sites. After the garden is a much needed bucket shower before dinner, often more rice, then early to bed.

Every day I spend with my training family in Mbour is a learning experience. It is hard work adjusting to a culture where many values and traditions do not align with the American way of life. Despite the difficulties I feel encouraged by their patience with me, and optimistic about the progress I am making. Next month I can hopefully depart with enough knowledge to pass my language and technical exams. Then officially swear in as a Peace Corps Volunteer before going to my permanent site.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s