Posts Tagged ‘ All Vol ’

The Other 2012 Election

It has been two months since my last update. In a way, I’ve been too busy to post, what with being in America and all. I’m still a Peace Corps volunteer though, and part of that job description includes doing mounds of nothing. So I guess I was working when I was in America.

Excuses aside, I’m back now. Coming back was a lot different than when I came back from France. Back in August, I was coming back from one foreign country and landing in another. This time, I was coming back from America. This trip was also twice as long as my France trip.

Two weeks ago, when I landed in Dakar, the cab driver was trying to talk to me in Wolof, and it took about ten seconds for me to respond to each question. I even told him, “Sorry, but I haven’t spoken Wolof in a while. It’s a little difficult.” It was like the whole America thing had been a dream.

It wasn’t a dream though. I had an amazing time back in America. I got to see friends and family. I ate delicious food (burritos and sushi!) and drink delicious alcoholic beverages. I went to the Titanic exhibition at the Brogan museum. I decorated for Christmas. I went to the Orlando Science Center. I drank lots and lots of Starbucks. I slept without a mosquito net. I saw snow (I had a six hour layover in DC, so I wandered around Georgetown in flip-flops during the first snow of the season). I rang in 2012 in downtown Orlando with college friends.

Speaking of 2012, next month is the Senegalese presidential election. The country is abuzz because Abdoulaye Wade, the current president, is rerunning for a third term, which has never been done before. Actually, a few months back Senegal made international headlines when Wade tried to change the constitution so that his son could replace him (basically, he unsuccessfully tried to make Senegal a monarchy).

Anyways, so the frontrunners for the election are Wade and international singer Youssou N’dour. N’dour became famous back in the 80s when he worked with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. Yeah, he’s legit.

So N’dour is pulling a Schwarzenegger. He’s never worked in politics before, but he’s trying to run for office.

For those of you who don’t know, the Sokone-area volunteers have started teaching English twice a week at the high school. We’ve been tag teaming. We started back in December, where I taught a few classes. Clearly, I was in America for a month, so I just started back up again this week. Yesterday’s class was all about the elections. We discussed the upcoming election and the issues, comparing them to American politics.

It was really interesting discussing politics, in English, with Senegalese teens. They were really knowledgeable and willing to participate in the discussion. Yesterday’s class only had five students (usually around 15 show up), and every single one of them supported a different presidential candidate. Two of them in the class were over the age of 18, so they could vote. Regrettably, neither was registered to vote. This is when I stepped in and went on a tangent, in English, about the importance of voting. They most likely didn’t catch every word, but they got the gist.

The elections are at the end of February, and riots are expected to occur. I feel like, in Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade is either loved or hated. It’s going to be crazy, that’s for sure. I’ll keep you posted.

All Vol

So I just got done with the West African All Volunteer conference in Thies. It was two days of meetings and discussions on best practices. There were lectures from some visiting volunteers from Togo, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Mali, and Cape Verde. I met new volunteers serving in Senegal as well as other volunteers in West Africa.

Sessions I went to:

  • PCVs Promoting Literacy
  • Moringa and Its Uses
  • Conducting a Regional NGO Workshop
  • Program Design and Grant Writing (it was either this or beekeeping, which I almost went to)
  • GIS Use to Enhance and Document Peace Corps Work

I learned a lot. It was interesting to see what other volunteers in country are doing. I’m looking forward to doing secondary projects at my site. There are a lot of cool health and environmental education projects. The potential to help and learn is endless, and I’m looking forward to it.

Before All Vol was the annual UAg Summit. My sector, urban agriculture, is the smallest in country with only 19 volunteers. I love that my sector is so small. I had met most of my fellow UAgs before, but a few I didn’t know. The 2-day summit was basically the nine second-year volunteers talking about what has worked and what hasn’t. The newbies just sat and listened. It was so interesting, and it made me feel better that pretty much all of the older vols said they were just as inexperienced as I am now. Gives me hope that I’ll have a beautiful demo garden one day.

On the second day we split up into teams and made a permagarden, which is a gardening technique utilized in PC Tanzania. The garden is supposed to naturally collect rainwater so your plants don’t flood. It was fun to learn about it from the other volunteers.

Basically, I’ve just been hanging out in Thies all week. Been busy going to sessions. My IST (in-service training) starts in a few days, which means I will have gardening sessions all day every day for two weeks. It should be fun.