Volunteer Review: Anna R., Teach English and Other Subjects in Senegal
Extracts from Anna's updates which appeared in the Senegal newsletter:
The two weeks of summer school went well and there was a big party to celebrate the end of classes. All the teachers - myself included, though I felt a bit of a part-timer - were given a diploma and thanked by the various members of the community and school governors. There was a lot of hand-clapping, dancing and plays about SIDA, then someone had the bright idea, "why don't the teachers dance?" Knowing there was no chance of me looking cool, I well and truly proved that white girls can't dance. I seem to remember mixing the Whigfield 'Saturday Night' dance with 'Stayin' Alive', and the man from the local paper taking a photo which I hope will never resurface!
I'm now in my third week of teaching at College Cheikh Amadou Bamba and am thoroughly enjoying it. Apparently it's cool to be square in Senegal, which certainly makes the teacher's role easier. Repetition is the favoured teaching method which can get a bit tiresome, but it's what the pupils are used to. Trying to introduce working in pairs, groups or independently hasn't worked particularly well, but I shall keep persevering. The kids are certainly enthusiastic, apart from the handful of male 4èmes who just think they're far too cool for school.
Two and a half months on, the street vendors have realised that I'm really not going to buy anything and to the local children I'm just 'same old toubab', so walking in town has now become a tad more tranquil. The goats still impress. Sarah and I came across an absolute beauty at the weekend. We named it Buttons. It was quite simply the prettiest, most inquisitive and downright cute goat you could ever behold; we felt it necessary to compliment the family on their treasure and request their permission to photograph it. Sarah knows its address, so if it makes it through Tabaski in one piece anyone coming out in the New Year should be able to track Buttons down. I am in fact organising a goat walk this week, which will take in all the well-known and indeed lesser-known goat hot-spots!
But enough of goats. Family life is fine, school life is good and social life is great. Now I've finished marking 240-odd tests and books I have a bit more spare time again! The temperature is a lot more bearable, mid to high twenties I guess, which to anyone in Britain now just before Christmas, must sound quite attractive.
All the volunteers took a trip to the desert at Loumpoul a couple of weeks back, dragging along Laura (the Projects Abroad co-ordinator)'s mum and brother who were visiting. The desert was good and if you liked eating prawns you were well away. If you didn't like prawns, you ate and immensely enjoyed those much-loved triangles of Laughing Cow cheese. Zal (who lives opposite the office) performed a fire dance which I think anyone present will have difficulty forgetting, mainly because he appeared to be wearing a large nappy. We had time for a short camel ride the next morning before the drive home.
More fun was to be had later that week, thanks to Laura's brainwave of having a table-football tournament at the office. The only problem was that the table didn't actually fit up the stairs, so 14 of us (volunteers, staff, the odd boyfriend and a couple of loiterers) took over the ground floor with much banging, shouting and booing. Diederick had the nerve to call me and Sarah crap. Danielle thrashed him in the next round. Issa and Diederick's first-round match was interrupted by a pitch invasion ( a passerby wanting to get to the front door), which appeared to distract Issa and he ended up losing quite drastically. That said, we needed him to grill the fish for dinner so it worked out pretty well. Danielle was the overall champion and a very modest one it must be said. She pipped Laura to the post and Laura was a very gracious loser, while Zal, who couldn't believe he had been beaten by a girl, demanded to play the champion and funnily enough, lost again! A good evening was had by all.
Last weekend was Laura's birthday do, which consisted of a trip to a campement at l'hydrobase. It was basic, (no electricity, bucket of water) but fun. There was more dancing (Sarah was victorious in the dancing contest, maybe thanks to the lessons she's had from the girls in her host family), midnight swimming by a brave few, and a fair amount of eating, including a rather yummy birthday cake. The precious copies of Closer and FHM bought out by Laura's mum were looking pretty battered by the end of the weekend. 9 people, 2 magazines and a lot of sane - a lovely relaxing weekend.
Down to my last two and a half weeks now. I'm planning a short trip round Dakar, Casamance and the Siné-Saloum Delta before heading back to Britain for Christmas with the family. Apparently my parents have a new fridge. That's what awaits me when I get home. Smashing.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.