A Tale of Two Languages

Hello everyone it has been a while. I hope you are well. Many things have happened here in Senegal since my last post. I traveled to the training center in Thies for in-service-training(IST). We learned technical skills like earthworks and tree grafting. The goal was to get us ready to start meaningful projects in our villages.

For me IST was great. It was awesome to reconnect with my fellow volunteers and share stories, also eat tons of food. From what I heard everyone is integrating well. Talking with others made me realize what a unique situation I have in my village Koulari.

I titled this entry a “Tale of Two Languages” because life in my village is just that. The Peace Corps taught me Pulaar, but my host family belongs to a different ethnic group group; their native language is Sarahule. This has led to some issues the main one being I do not speak Sarahule.

That said my host father being the village chief speaks Pulaar very well. Koulari is split roughly in half between Pulaar and Sarahule families. Everyone speaks varying amounts of the two languages and some of the more educated men can speak some French. Peace Corps does not teach Sarahule in Senegal as it is a very small ethnic group here. I was however recently able to get the Peace Corps Gambia manual for Sarahule so I am learning slowly. It has been very rewarding seeing the surprise on my family’s faces when I speak a little Sarahule to them.

We are told not to compare ourselves to other volunteers, yet I couldn’t help feel a little behind in my language skills when hanging with everyone at IST. It seems no one else has this issue of being placed with a host family that doesn’t speak the language they were taught! Sometimes it feels like Peace Corps really screwed me over but at the end of the day Pulaar was the right language for me to learn. All the surrounding areas are mainly Pulaar people and it is the right language for being able to do the most projects. Plus I can impress my friends with my fancy Sarahule words. One cool phrase I learned is, “no bana bana wuli.” We say it before bed and it means, “may we get up one by one.” If everyone wakes at once that is bad because some disturbance has woken everyone.

Currently I am back in village as Senegal elects a new president. We are not allowed to talk politics with our families but it seems like mine favors the incumbent Macky Sall. We were required to stay in our sites during the days before and after the election as there were liable to be political demonstrations. Once the restriction is lifted I will head to the city and get some wifi to post!

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


3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Languages

  1. Hello Adam,
    I enjoyed reading your blog and send my best wishes to you. I think of you often and am glad to know you are following your ideals. I wish you the best in all you do. A noble venture to be sure, but stay safe and we’ll play duets again some day. Keep me posted on your life’s journey.
    Warmest regards,
    Dan Lasdow 🎺🎺


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