What am I doing in Senegal? – Part 2

Sovichea Kon

October 15, 2018

Continuing from my first post, I am going to talk about my personal agenda
in this one. Two weeks into Senegal, I have made up some expectations for
myself such as learning languages, having a family and being fit.

My first goal is learning languages because I believe that languages would
be my lasting connection with Senegal and would aid my immersion into
Senegalese culture by mind and heart. As part of the program, I am required
to attend Wolof classes weekly in order to graduate from the program.
However, in my opinion, I do not see it as a requirement that will limit my
flexible and carefree gap year, but the golden opportunity for me to
further understand Senegal deeper. Despite its widely used status, it’s
hard to believe that the only official language of the nation is French.
The colonial status of the language has deepened its root not only in
Senegal but also the surrounding countries like Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, etc.
Being here is great for me, despite wanting to be in a Hispanophone
country, a Francophone country would also be in my interest as well. With
the help from my family, my apprenticeship, my community and my support
network, it would be a blessing for me to be able to read, write and speak
both French and Wolof.

Secondly, I would like to learn how to be part of a family again. Five
years ago, a major turn of my life took place when I moved to Singapore on
a scholarship program to UWCSEA. UWCSEA shaped my strength and give me
independence refuse to my family. There are pros and cons of having an
international education free of charges. The pros would be you are more
open, more accustomed to change, understand the international culture and
the modern culture which change and innovation are encouraged for a more
efficient, more liberal and more equitable society. You are becoming more
of a global citizen. However, when things move quickly at the part of the
world where I was living, things move very slowly at home. Even though the
rate of innovation is all relative measure, it comes to relaying
information about your life which is a task I have so underperformed. The
result was leading my family into a complete maze of mysteries about my
life. There are issues when it comes to me making decisions that my family
does not understand and generally getting disagreements from them because
to them, my decision seems too radical and western. To me, I see this as a
mistake which I am not yet ready to take it one on one with my family. By
bringing myself out into the wilderness, I am looking forward to
to learn to build kinship from scratch and reflect on what I have done.

Third, I am inspired to be fit here. People eat healthily, no pigs which
mean less fat. They exercise a lot which is in contrast to my country in
Cambodia, that poor countries don’t have time for themselves but only for
survival. It has opened my eyes when I arrive here. People run a lot in the
days, in the morning and early evenings. All the boys are crazy about
football. If not, it would be Basketball since they are crazy with their
height. An average Senegalese are generally much taller than an average
Cambodian. Moreover, it is a gap year which a year for myself to challenge
and to work on myself. I would like to dedicate an hour a day or 7 hours a
week at least to get out of the house and work on myself. I am also hoping
to build some friendship along the way during sports.

[image: IMG_20180924_191049.jpg]

Sovichea Kon