For those of you who were wondering where my blogs have been for the past few months, they are being uploaded chronologically based on when I wrote them. I am starting with this one from the end of In-Country Orientation, a period of three weeks where we stayed in Dakar to adjust to Senegal while still being able to view a beautiful city with some familiarity to it. Enjoy!
All I can say is wow… What a month. After just 21 days in Dakar, I am ready to leave to move into another house in the town of Khombole, but I’ll save that for another post. Dakar has been very interesting, and as I review this entry a month later, it was a perfect gateway into the country of Senegal. My host family was never without open minds as I asked them any questions about Senegalese culture, Wolof and French vocabulary, and their previous lives. One family member in specific was my host brother, Karim. He is someone I felt lucky to have to talk to, debate with, and spend time with. For that I owe him my thanks. He also taught me how to prepare tea, which was pretty nice of him.
While my time in Dakar was not filled with nearly as many differences, culture shocks and downright bizarre situations as I had thought it would, there are a few moments that stick out. The moments were small, but they were numerous. My second morning with my host family, I woke up to much commotion as my brothers pulled a multitude of sheep through the living room. While I have obviously seen sheep before, the sight of 3 men dragging 5 or 6 sheep through a house, their hooves sliding on the tile floor, was quite remarkable! Another moment was the first time I had gone running in the city. I take five steps outside of my house and I can immediately feel the intense gaze of every person within my proximity burning a hole through me. As It turns out, I do not look the same as most people that live in Senegal, and that’s okay! While I was initially bothered by the constant attention that my skin color received, my self-awareness soon dissipated, and I began to feel more “normal.” Although I still get stared at when I’m out in public, I know that it is nothing for me to be worried about… people just happen to be curious!