The Beginning of Something New

Riley Markham - Senegal


January 24, 2014

In my first month here in Senegal, I noticed many cultural differences between the US and Senegal.  One in particular is that when you eat here in senegal you only use your right hand. The reason being is that your left hand is to only be used for bathroom purposes because, as you might have known, toilet paper is a rarity especially outside of the capital city of Dakar. Even if you do happen to use toilet paper, your still required to use your right hand while eating. If you are seen eating with your left hand they are not shy about letting you know right away.

In one personal experience that occurred in Dakar, while I was eating dinner one night with my host family in Dakar I mistakenly stuck my left hand in the bowl to grab some salad but as soon as I took my hand out of the bowl everyone was starring at me.  As I looked around I thought to myself “Why are all these people looking at me ?” Before i could come up with an answer my brother said loud and clear, “Riley why did you use your left hand to grab food out of the bowl?” As soon as I heard him ask that I remembered the no left hand rule while eating.  Afterwards I apologized to everyone and insured them that it wouldn’t happen again. After dinner I returned to my room and began to think about what I had just done.  I couldn’t believe I had just broken the number one rule while eating. I surely learned my lesson that night and have yet to stick my left hand in the bowl since that night.

Its through experiences like these that you truly learn about the differences in culture and how important certain customs might be to someone.  I would like to thank all who have read this blog post and I hope that everyone enjoyed it! Thank you and please feel free to follow my future blog posts!

Riley Markham