Chapter 5: Disclaimer, Duties, and Devotions

Xandra Coleman - Senegal

October 29, 2018

Before I enter into an introduction to my apprenticeships both in this blog
and blogs down the road, I hope you will bare with me as I offer a quick
I am not in Senegal to make a difference, to swoop in with my privileged
angel wings and go aid a people ‘less fortunate’ than I. I am here to
listen and learn from a people equal to but in a different situation than
After all, would it be wise to go ‘save’ a people whom you have yet to
You have an oven and the ingredients, but you don’t have the recipe. Can
you bake me some strudel?
Most would argue no, yet how often have you seen an organization or
individual who have the funds, the goods, the apparent knowledge in
economics or politics think they can swoop into an area and whip up the
perfect solution to a people’s ‘problem’ before they take the time to
understand the culture and community. That’s how washing machines are sent
to Indian Reservations with no electricity. Do you see the error in logic?
I suppose that this is my friendly reminder that just as I consider myself
a mere student of the Senegalese community, not a selfless volunteer, I
wish you to read from the same lens. Be aware of presumptive judgements,
and read as a person curious about a different culture, not as a person
ready to read about the lives of ‘those less fortunate’.
Thank you

*At The Health Post*
*In The US:* *My Experience in Senegal:*
1.Decide to become a medical professional 1. Decide to take a gap
year with GCY
2.Major in bio or pre-med in college 2. Accept a
position at a health post
3.Learn how the body functions 3. Learn in
the first week how to give
malaria and HIV tests, take blood pressure,
and listen to a patient’s heart.
4. Observe a surgery 4. Help give a vaccine, IV, and
bandage the remains of a
women’s foot wrecked by
untreated diabetes
5.Graduate college 5. Survive my first two weeks
6.Enter grad school 6. Enter my third week
7.Get an apprenticeship 7. Be officially left alone to take
weights, temperatures,
body mass, and heights of a
good 50+ people a day

*At The Middle/ High School*
*In The US:* *My Experience in Senegal:*
1.Decide to become a teacher 1. Decide to
take a gap year with GCY
2.Major in education in college 2. Accept a
position at a school
3.Learn the philosophies of teaching 3. Sit in on the
start of school teacher
and school subjects
meeting, all in French
4.Hand in your HW on lesson planning 4.Observe your supervisor teach
parts of an
English class
5.Continue your education 5. With your teacher observing, teach days
of the week, ABCs, and
6.Partner with a school to teach a real class 6. Be left alone, the
2nd week, with no prep
time, to review what you taught to the 50
person class while waiting 2 hours for the
teacher to arrive
Can’t wait to see where next month takes me!

*Devotions*: A Cultural Tidbit
This past weekend was the Grand Magal of Touba. In the spirit of the
religious festivities, not only did I get to observe the grand exodus of
millions of Senegalese people in pilgrimage to the city of Touba, but I
also was privileged to participate in the magals and saffars leading up to
this weekend. To take part in either is to witness the incredible
organization and execution powers of the women. First, a group of community
members will gather and decide one day to pay for the cafe Tuba (speciality
spiced coffee here) for the saffar or the ingredients for a meal for the
magals. Out comes pots and spoons of proportions you only thought really
existed in books and movies. Then, in a flurry of action one can barely
follow, giant pots of coffee are brewed and distributed to entire
communities, women self organize to peel and cut vegetables by the bunches,
chickens and rice are cooked, and somehow, by the end, communal bowls full
of food are distributed by the dozens. It’s a sure feat. I highly recommend
looking up more details!

Xandra Coleman