Alec Yeh

When you’re challenged…a different side of you is exposed. I want to be able to show my community that with just a high school diploma, with just one year there’s so much you can do.


Malaria – “the biggest problem in Senegal”

Every once and a while, I’ll sit next to Seck to observe a consultation. But for the first time, I sat in the patients’ seat, facing the ominous head nurse. Fortunately for me, I was only sitting there for an interview, and not for health reasons. “My last question. What is the biggest problem in…

24 April, 2010


Fanta is so freaking amazing. I had this great conversation with her last night after dinner. It always stems from food. She’s always asking me what food I like in Senegal. But then she stops me halfway through and says, “Okay okay. What don’t you like in Senegal?” And this happens all the time. That’s…

14 April, 2010

Campements, Awa, Mangroves, and Peace Corps: The March Monthly Meeting

It was our last monthly meeting, and this one took place down south. The theme of this month’s meeting was environmental conservation, so the big activity was the tour of the mangrove system. I’ll explain more about that later. But we had already been to the area before, when we had to make that Gambia…

14 April, 2010

Sakho at Valda Pharmaceuticals

Rachel would be so proud. Mat, being incredibly lucky and sociable, met this man named Sakho at the bank in Rufisique. It was serendipitous. It turns out that Sakho is the head pharmacist of Valda, a very large pharmaceutical company that actually has its headquarters in Rufisque. And so Mat, Ananda and I made our…

06 April, 2010

Balla Gaye vs. Modou Lo

Senegalese wrestling is a long-standing tradition. In fact, it’s not really “Senegalese.” It’s more African as a whole. But it’s their national sport, and everybody here loves it. Everybody. Even the old ladies. Including Fanta. She loves wrestling apparently, and I find that really hilarious. I can just imagine her getting really into it. But…

01 April, 2010

Next on Mythbusters: Green Card Lottery?

The green card lottery: myth or truth? They could put that on Mythbusters. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s been long said that the US holds a green card lottery. But whether that is true, many people don’t know. Since it’s not like a prize that they announce the winners of each…

01 April, 2010

Knowledge is Power

I’ve begun teaching Oule’ye French. It’s a little peculiar that I would be teaching her French considering how angry and upset I get teaching Muhammad French. And it’s also peculiar that I would be teaching French at all since I’m terrible at it. But, then again, Oule’ye has never had a formal education, and she…

01 April, 2010

Dear Applicant…

I remember visiting my college last year. I was walking on the campus with some friends, just taking it all in, when we ran into this extremely peppy, extremely overbearing girl. She asked us, “Are you guys going to be students here next year?” Expecting to make a new friend, we responded, “Yeah. We are….

22 March, 2010

Money, Movement, and (Co)Dependency

Monsieur Ba, my boss at the Traditional Hospital, and I were discussing the Chinese one day. We were talking about foreigners, and in particular immigration. He said something along the lines of, “The Senegalese are everywhere; Europe, Australia, China, the United States. Everywhere.” I responded with, “Yeah. That sounds like the Chinese.” This is where…

08 March, 2010

Vitamins, Door-to-Door

Today I was able to see how global initiatives get implemented on the local level. I got to tag along as the nurses of the Poste went house to house to administer vitamins and pills. This doesn’t happen very often; maybe once every three months. It’s a national initiative, provided by, I think, the World…

08 March, 2010

Playing Pharmacy Boss

Today was a big leap at the Poste. I don’t think I have been that productive since the beginning of my experience at the Poste. I was running the pharmacy like a pro today! Not really. I was a pretty big n00b but still. I thought I was rockin’ it. I was never flying solo,…

03 March, 2010

Cultural Onomatopoeia

David Sedaris, a memoirist, wrote about how it’s always interesting to hear the different onomatopoeia of a culture. It’s SO true. I never thought about it, but it’s really hilarious. In Dakar recently, we learned from Rachel that for a car horn, the Senegalese use “pain pain”, pronounced closer to “paing paing.” And after hearing…

25 February, 2010

Senegal – a discussion of the economy

I had the most interesting discussion with my boss at the Traditional Hospital. It was about the Senegalese economy. I just wish I could have fully understood every word, instead of having to ask him to try and explain some of it in English. I also wish I got him on video. He was made…

26 January, 2010

Senegalese just want to work – Alec Yeh

This post by Fellow, Alec Yeh has been Cross-posted from the Current TV News blog. Q: What are your first impressions? Things here are incredibly different, even from Dakar [the capital]. Being in the village is just a lot more downtime. Things seem to move at a slower pace, and it isn’t a bad thing…

17 December, 2009


Imagine being the Minister of Health in a country like the United States. Your jobs pretty important right? You spent a long time acquiring the degrees and credentials to be the Minister of Health. Now imagine being paid a salary of 26,000 dollars a year. If a minister’s salary is that much, imagine what the…

12 November, 2009

Kids Will Be Kids

Kids will seriously put anything in their mouths. Anything. If it looks like it’ll fit, they’ll try it. And if doesn’t look like it’ll fit, they sure as hell going to make it fit. I woke up one morning, tied up my mosquito net, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I go to put on…

12 November, 2009

My House

My house is much smaller than my house in Dakar, but I like it much more. It’s quite small, but more conducive for socializing. There are three buildings. The largest is the one with all the rooms. There are three bedrooms, including mine, and a living room. There is another small building that simply a…

12 November, 2009

Yankhoba, The Mentor

Yankhoba is quite the guy. He took me to his house to meet his family. He introduced most of the men as his brothers and most of the women as his sisters. I thought he had 20 siblings. He later told me most of them weren’t actually his brothers or sisters. He just considers them…

12 November, 2009


Pulling up into Sangalkam, I got extremely nervous. The thought that loomed in the back of my mind was “What if you’re stuck with a family you don’t like for six months?” I was just getting closer to my Dakar family, after buying them a cake as a “thank you.” Cakes really make everything better….

12 November, 2009


So I’ve recently gotten into this cooking thing. I want to study gastronomy in school and I figured since I’m in Senegal, why not learn some things about Senegalese cooking? I talked to Gaya, one of the fellows, and she actually invited me over to cook with her family. I was so excited. It was…

26 October, 2009

Golden Arches

Those Golden Arches. Oh dear. I miss those beautiful, Golden Arches. I couldn’t really sleep very well last night. Perhaps it’s because my mind was too preoccupied thinking about that image in my head. Oh how the gold pops with that red background. And here comes a little girl with beautiful fire-red pigtails and freckled…

18 October, 2009

In Pictures and Video

[slidepress gallery=’alec-yeh’]

16 October, 2009

Psst. Psssst. Pssssssst.

The Senegalese hiss. I don’t quite understand why, but they hiss at you. They hiss at each other. They hiss at everybody. Instead of saying, “Hello!”, they just go “pssssst.” It’s how people in Senegal try to get your attention. And it’s not just because I’m American. They do that to each other. They hiss…

13 October, 2009

Language, Langue, Lengua, Laaka

I’ve never been very good at languages. I’ve always had a tough time learning them and mastering them. But knowing a language tells you so much about the culture of its people. Yes, the roots of it might be Germanic, or Arabic, or so on. Knowing that may tell you the influences and the roots…

13 October, 2009

Dinner with the Thiaws

The habits of dinner are very very different here than they are in the US. It takes time to adjust, and I still haven’t quite adjusted to it. Breakfast and lunch are at pretty normal hours; whenever you wake up, which is around 8 or so, and around 1-2 respectively. However, dinner is just incredibly…

13 October, 2009


It’s weird to think that so many things in Senegal and so many things in the US are actually quite similar. I ordered just a simple omelette for lunch; essentially a fried egg. It’s weird to think when you order a fried egg anywhere, a fried egg will always be a fried egg. You can’t…

08 October, 2009

Drunk Puppy?

I was in some basement that I’ve never been in. There was a red cup of some clear liquid in front of me, and a puppy on the ground. It was an adorable puppy; brown with white spots. I didn’t know what the cup was full of, but the puppy spilled it over, and started…

07 October, 2009

Food, Family, and Witch Doctor?

Today was our culture orientation, and wowee, did we learn a lot. So many new ideas, new concepts, new values, just a whole different way of life that I find so fascinating. We began with food and lunch. So first off, much of the time Senegalese eat on the floor with a huge communal bowl….

07 October, 2009

Meet the Thiaws

We were finally introduced and dropped off at our homestays today. My family are the Thiaw’s (pronounced Chaw). They’re extremely extremely nice. The home is quite big. I get my own room, with my own bathroom! It’s a pretty nice set up I’ll admit. It’s quite hot, since the house doesn’t have much circulation. I…

07 October, 2009

Neighborhood Sortie

I couldn’t sleep last night. The terror of not being able to communicate with the Senegalese, the fear of being alone, kept me up most of the night. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning and didn’t sleep the rest of the night. Perhaps it was the jet-lag. Who knows. But I couldn’t stop…

05 October, 2009

The Smell of Chinatown

We arrived early this morning. When we landed, the condensation immediately collected on the windows. The plane said it was about 85 degrees outside. With the temperature combined with the humidity, I knew it was going to be awful. I began to sweat profusely the moment I stepped off the plane. It was disgusting. Yet…

03 October, 2009

Walking Away to Discover Something New

I just finished packing for Senegal. I can’t believe it. In three hours, I will be at the airport, waiting for my flight to DC, then my flight to Senegal. In 24 hours, I will be in a different country, a different continent; across the Atlantic Ocean. I never actually thought this day would come,…

02 October, 2009

Day 3: Center for Creative Leadership

The organization, Center for Creative Leadership visited IONS today to teach us all about creative leadership. Their focus was to help us discover what kind of leader we are and how we can improve our human connections and collaborations to become better leaders. Our facilitators were Joel Wright and Sarah Miller. Joel and Sarah have…

22 September, 2009


It jiggled with every vibration of the table. That thing on my plate was out to get me. No way was I going to eat something known as the slug of the sea. It had brown leathery skin, coated in the oil of the sauce. When the light caught it just right, it looked like…

17 August, 2009

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Alec Yeh