dancing barefoot, heading for a spin

Victoria Tran-Trinh - Senegal


October 5, 2009

So.. my plans to write more frequent blogposts didn’t come to fruition. Obviously. I had every intention to update my blog, but the U.S. Training Institute was such a constant whirlwind of activity. Any and all free time that we Fellows had was devoted to reflecting, talking and just catching our breaths. True, some of the other blogs were updated, but they are written by those with characters much more disciplined than mine.

The last post was written on the first day of the U.S. Training Institute and it’s been an amazing time since then. I’m now sitting on the hallway floor, since it’s the only place in our apartment that gets any semblance of Wi-Fi. The apartment is, by the way, in Dakar, Senegal. Hence, we have arrived! Tonight is technically our second night, although it feels like the third – we all enjoyed a nap after landing at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport at 5:30 AM local time. The van ride from the airport was absolutely surreal, partly due to intense sleep deprivation and partly because there were scrawny horses freely grazing on the highway median juxtaposed with more shiny SUVs than you would imagine. Ananda and I kept nudging each other, wide-eyed, repeatedly reminding the other and ourselves that “We’re in Africa!” It was definitely a night – well, morning, really – to remember.

After our naps, Rachel, our team leader, led a walk to the Baobab Center, where we’ll be doing our in-country language and culture training. We met some facilitators and took orientation walks around the area to see necessities like the bank and the supermarket. We started language classes this morning, so you can tell there really has been no down time, which is actually awesome. Our apartment is great, but I’m super excited to move into our family homestays tomorrow. It’ll take a while to adapt to things like the frequent power outages, the toilets, and the heat and subsequent constant feeling of stickiness, but I really have no complaints. I am ridiculously happy to be here.

Any of my Boston friends reading this will be particularly interested to know a few things:

  • BoA now stands for Bank of Africa. Seriously.

  • I really am wearing cargo pants, khakis, and skirts that hit below my knee. Also sensible shoes.

  • Thanks to South African Airways’ super nice individual entertainment systems, I finally got around to watching Juno. I thought it was vastly overrated. Nobody actually says “honest to blog?” I mean, come on.

  • The humidity makes my short hair even more enormous than my long hair was.

  • Dakar smells like Chinatown, on the reals.

  • I miss you guys and am excited to see you on seven months! But I’m already sensing that I may not want to come back…so you should come visit me in April just in case 😉

Love,

Victoria

Victoria Tran-Trinh