So, I just got back from a week at my homestay in M'Boro. WOW. There are so many things I want to write about, but I'm gonna go back to before I left.
Last week in Thies, we found out of language groups. They assigned each of us to a group of 2-4 people that we're going to spend the next 9 weeks with. The language group you're assigned to is significant for us, becuase it indicated where in the country you'll end up for your actual site for 2 years. Of the 48 of us, I was the LAST person to be called to find out my group. No joke.
I was placed in a Wolof group. That means that I could end up all along the coast (which would be sweet) or somewhere in Central Senegal. And at that time I found out that my homestay placement for PST is in M'Boro, which is a little bit north of Dakar. We recieved crash courses in our various languages and then we were off!
I don't think I've ever been as intimidated and overwhelmed as when the Peace Corps land cruiser dropped me off in front of a strange gome and then pulled away. Instantly I was confused because all of the people who came out to meet me just started shouting weird things at me. Eventually I figured out that they were trying to tell me my new name, which is Ami Diop (it sounds like Ah-mee Jobe). I'm not going to give you a play by play of my entire week, but it basically involved a lot of me shaking my head in confusion and people laughing at me.
My family has one dad, two moms, a lot of kids and a lot of grandkids. And a lot of random other people. One of my sisters is also named Ami Diop (most of us were named after other members of our families), so they generally end up calling me Ami Toubab. Toubab means white person. It's what people scream at you when you're on the street. So now I'm Ami Toubab, which is super fun. Also, my family's veryyyy traditional. Most of the other trainees have pretty lax situations. Mine's NOT. I have to curtsey when I greet people. It's intense.
The language barrier is obviously difficult, but I have daily language class so I'm learning a ton every day. The really hard parts are the cultural differences. Despite all of the awesome seminars and lectures we've had at the training center, nothing really prepares you for the cock-a-doodling that will occur at 4:30am when the roosters wake up. Or how scary it is when the stray cats start fighting and it sounds like actually dying. I never understood the term cat fight until now. Or how even though they told us that our host moms will give you a lot of directions.. that they really will give you every direction. Like when my host mom tells me to go to the bathroom. It's just such a learning experience.
There were a ton of awkward moments throughout the week. One of my sisters is in a wheelchair and she asked me to buy her a new one from America and send it to her as a present. And she was serious. She also just happened to get married over the weekend, and I was NOT prepared to be at a wedding my first week at the homestay. So overwhelming. Everyone was asking me why I wasn't married yet, if I had a fiance in the US, if I would marry their brother/uncle/friend/them. A bit too much to handle the first week.
But luckily the first week came to an end and that glorious PC land cruiser came to get us and bring us back to Thies. One of the other girls in the van said that she didn't think she would have been as happy even if the driver said he was taking us back to the US. All of us just wanted to unwind, speak English, use a real toilet, take a real shower and get a cold beer. We're all in heaven now.
ALSO, I find this interesting.. when we got back to Thies we found out that one of us already left. So our group is now down to 47. Obviously this isn't for everyone, but I was surprised that we lost one so quickly.
We leave to go back to our villages on Wednesday afternoon. This stint is for 2 weeks. That's total immersion for ya. Definitely not easy, but also definitely the best way to learn the language and get used to the culture. I'm trying to cram in all of my internet and America time into these next few days.
My mom and Cait already gave me the Glee update, which is really the only thing I'm really sad I'm missing in the US (aside from family/friends of course). I feel like the only other thing that I'll be really upset about missing will be when Harry Potter comes out. Obviously.
So that's all for now. I'll try to keep up with this as best as possible, but it isn't easy when you go so long without internet.
I do have a cell phone now, which does work in the village, so feel free to call me! I love speaking English. It's best to call with a calling card or via skype. My number's +221 760 720 262. Seriously, call. I'm 4 hours ahead of the East coast.
Okay, ba beneen!