Meet the Thiaws

Alec Yeh - Senegal


October 7, 2009

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 don’t really know much of the house at all. I’ve only been in two rooms, mine and the living room. That’s the only two places I feel welcomed. I don’t want to go into their bedrooms.

The people there are EXTREMELY nice. The only issue: I actually can’t talk to them. My French is so minimal and their English isn’t great either. So there is VERY little talking. In fact, close to none. On top of that, my family is an extremely quiet family. They don’t really talk at all either. They don’t talk much to each other. That’s the thing I’m worried about. All the other homestays seem to be so social and so loud and festive, but mine isn’t at all. I’m afraid I may not get a taste of that side of Senegalese home life. Hopefully in the village I will.

So let me tell you about the family. My host mother’s name is Saly, (pronounced like Sally). She’s extremely nice; a hefty woman that you can tell, commands a lot of respect from her family. She’s very nice, though just doesn’t talk much. There’s the oldest daughter, her name is Adja (pronounced Ad-zha). She’s sweet and works as an accountant for the phone company, SONATEL. She’s super tall and skinny. There’s the middle child, Djatu (pronounced Ja-tu). She’s a little bit bigger than Adja, but also very nice. She taught me a lot of French words. She’s also an accountant, but at a carpet making company, I think? She also takes classes at the university at night.

This is where communication gets iffy. Then I met Amadou. He’s their youngest child. He’s very nice. He talks to me the most, which is still, VERY little. When I say my family doesn’t talk, they really barely talk. He’s exactly my age, and will be attending the university beginning in November. He’s studying economics.

Then, there’s El Hadj. He’s SO intimidating. He’s the man of the household. I don’t really know what he does, but I’m pretty sure he’s really important. He’s “El Hadj” for a reason I assume. He walked in with this GORGEOUS boubou (African dress). It was so pretty. He’s very nice, but I shared like three words with him. My name, and his. He’ll only be here half the time since he has another family in some other neighborhood. Yes, he’s a polygamist!

Alec Yeh