A New Name: Idrissa

A few weeks ago, we had an exciting moment here at the PC Senegal Training Center: our language assignments. I discovered that, to my excitement, I am learning a language called Sereer. It is spoken primarily by the Sereer people who most commonly live in the Fatick and Kaolock regions of Senegal, and have a presence in the Thies and Dakar regions as well.

A few days after learning our language assignments, we also learned where we would be spending our Community Based Training (CBT). I have been living with a wonderful host family outside of Thies where I have been studying Senegalese culture and the Sereer language. Upon my initial arrival, the second thing my mother did was give me my first of several Senegalese names: Idrissa Seck. It is the name I will go by in Senegal until I install at my final site, where I will be given a second name to use until I COS in two years.

My family is amazing, no doubt about it. I live with about 8 people at any given time including my host parents, brothers and sisters, and a young niece. They have taught me many important cultural pieces including eating, cleaning my room, and most importantly, laughing at myself. My siblings especially enjoy helping me learn and practice my Sereer, though I say “andiim” or “I don’t know” more than I’d like to admit!

While at CBT, we have incredibly packed days. They keep me out of trouble and are the reason I have learned so much. Here is a sample schedule:

5:30 – Morning call to prayer
7:00 – Wake up and exercise
7:45 – Shower and brush teeth
8:15 – Breakfast: a loaf of ‘machine bread’ topped with butter or chocolate spread
8:45 – Depart for class
9:00 – Language class
1:00 – After class tea (Attaya)
1:20 – Head home to rest and take a short nap outside under our tree
2:00 – Lunch: A rice base, typically with fish and seasonal vegetables such as carrots, eggplants, bitter tomato, and sweet potato
2:30 – Rest hour: taking a nap is the best part of my day!
3:30 – Wake up and get ready for the afternoon
4:00 – Class or garden work at the village chief’s house depending on the day
6:00 – Water the garden
6:30 – Return home to shower, change and do some homework before dinner
8:00 – Dinner: Typically my sister makes me an onion sauce with egg or pasta or vegetables with bread. Some nights I eat millet couscous (Saat) with my family
9:00 – Bed time, unless my brother and sister convince me to stay up later to hang out and practice Sereer

I can certainly say that our training, particularly at CBT, is intensive and helpful! We recently found out where we will be living for the next two years, and I am currently visiting my future hut so be on the lookout for a post about that!

P. S. I love hearing from folks at leary.bryce@gmail.com – sorry if I don’t get back super quick, I don’t have Internet where I live. I should respond within three weeks in most cases 🙂

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