Sangalkam!

Alec Yeh - Senegal


November 12, 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. And now, I was being transferred to another family, another environment.

The moment I met my family, I knew I was worrying about nothing. I was welcomed by the man of the house, my host brother. His name is El Hadj Senghor (“El Hadj” is the name given to anybody who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca). He’s probably around 15 to 20 years older than I am, but he seems more like a big kid to me. He’s incredibly welcoming, and tries his best to make me feel at home. He has a wife, Ndeye. Though she does all the work (literally all the work in the house), she’s always smiling and happy. Together, they have two girls, Aminata (one year old) and Sophia (three years old). At first, Aminata cried every time I saw her. I thought, “Am I that ugly?” But now, she’s comfortable with me. Sophia was incredibly quiet at first, but as time went on, she warmed up. There’s also El Hadj’s cousin, Muhammad, who is ten years old. He tends to be bossed around all the time, but he’s a sweet kid. I didn’t meet my host mother until a day later, but her name is Fanta Cisse. She’s amazing. She just exudes importance, and I later found out, she’s quite respected in the village. She also has these beautiful green eyes. I don’t exactly know if that’s special in Senegalese culture, but I personally have never seen a black person with green eyes. Fanta has two other sons; one lives in France and I’ll never meet him, and the other lives and works in Dakar. I’ve already met him. His name is Pape, and he’s very nice.

I was also greeted by my mentor, Yankhoba Sarr. He’s such a hooligan. He’s probably five years older than me. He has some facial hair and Rasta hair. He’s loud, funny, and seems ot know everybody in town. He’ll be a great person to show me Senegalese daily life.

My Senegalese name is Assane Senghor. I was given many others by different people, but Assane Senghor actually stuck. I like it. I think it fits.

Oh, and they suggested I get corn rows. Can you imagine me with corn rows?

Alec Yeh