Community Fund – Year in Senegal – January Update
So in 2 weeks I will have been here for 5 months now. I can’t believe how fast the time is flying. Life here is busier than I thought possible! I am teaching English in 2 high schools, I have a 1ere class of 70 students (aged between 18-22!) which is very scary but their level of English is already fantastic so I love teaching them, their insights and points are inspiring. I also have a 6eme class of about 50 at another school. This class is fantastic, they are aged 12-15 and are complete beginners. Their energy and finger clicking (instead of hands up they click their fingers incessantly and shout MISS MISS!!!!) pushes me on through my day.
Teaching has become so natural now! It’s so rewarding. I have also taken on an ICT class at the college which adds real variety to my week! I also teach a 4eme class of 9 very low ability students. I do 3 English clubs at 3 different schools where we sing in English, study English texts, work on pronunciation and do competitions. I am planning to create a journal- a collection of students’ written English works. I also do an art club at one of the schools which the kids love as it’s not a timetabled subject here.
One of the most rewarding things I do is a project called FasJom, which is for girls who can’t go to school for various reasons and so cannot read or write. This I do twice a week in a local primary school as I am trying to recapture the school environment they don’t have. Here I teach basic maths and French and it is so rewarding seeing a small girl who couldn’t even hold a pen, write their name. There are about 10 girls who come to this.
That’s really the project. Although I’d like to establish an English debate after school group. I envisage a group sitting under a tree drinking Senegalese tea discussing topics to improve their English speaking. I want to call it T-bate, I hope I can get it off the ground. There just aren’t enough hours of daylight!
My Project trust partner and I have really become a part of the local community. We are members of the local church choir which rehearse for 2 hours 3 times a week in the evenings, we then dress up in our grand boubous (Traditional beautiful Senegalese dresses) and sing at evening mass on Saturday. We have so much fun. We have also joined the local basketball club which trains for 2 hours 3 times a week, in the scorching sun, pushed very hard by the coach but it definitely is a highlight of my week! When everything going round in my mind is pushed aside!
We spend the weekends travelling locally although I’d love to discover the North of Senegal and the capital Dakar a bit more. So we are based in Joal, a beautiful small fishing town 3 hours from Dakar. It’s very small, with only one road that goes through it but on our way to school, church, the post office on our bikes, we stop along the way and see all our friends. It’s beautiful in a very raw way. Joal is quite poor compared to the other projects and the heat and the sand contribute their fair share to make Joal look like a poverty case, but amidst it all, you really do just get on with it. There is no such thing as luxury here. Cold bucket showers, and no running water during the day so we have to get up at 3.am to fill the buckets. Handwashing has actually become something I look forward to! And there’s not a lot to spend money on here apart from bananas, fish and coca cola!
We have some wonderful friends here and we are living with a Muslim Senegalese family who are fantastic. There are 3 little kids who we spend a lot of time with. I am learning a lot about Senegalese culture, religion and tradition whilst learning how to cook and speak Wolof. Everything about my life has taken me by surprise now! I’m such a different person already. My outlook on what is important is so different. Thank you so much for contributing to my project. Everyone is Senegal just loves the English language and it’s wonderful to be able to bring that to them.
For a link to Marianne’s blog, for more detailed updates and more photos head here