My roomate, Aminata Diouf, moved in today. She seems really nice, but Im not sure how to approach this relationship. She is a pretty, strong-looking 3rd year Sociology major. She is from Kaolack, a town in the middle of Senegal. She drove almost 12 hours but she started cleaning our room right when she arrived. She even cleaned my stuff and aired out my mattress. She is the roomate of a girl who was on this program last year, and the girl told me that Aminata loves cleaning and sleeping. ?? This will be interesting. I bought a watermelon to share and we had some pleasant conversation, but then I let her go to sleep. I cant wait to really talk with her and hang.
Men and women in Senegal:
As they told us before we left for Senegal, the men in Senegal are very forward. I have been proposed to many times, but I just have to laugh it off and tell the men I have a husband or five. Men do grab at us and ask straight up for our phone numbers. Humor is the best solution to the potentially awkward moments. Men are considered the heads of households, but a huge number of them are undereducated and unemployed.
On the other hand, Senegalese women are pretty standoffish. This is just a part of their culture. We americans need to gain the trust of the women. Women wont even make eye contact on the sidewalk, but men will stop us and tell us how beautiful and nice we are. Women are the organizers and the glue that holds families together. they take care of all the daily activities. Being a mother is an expectation and a highest honor for Senegalese women. Men are told to marry women who make good hostesses.
As Professor Fair told us in our orientation, American women are awarded ¨honorary male¨stauts, which is totally true. For example, during a holiday dinner, the women eat around one bowl, the men eat around theirs, and Im engcouraged to eat with the men. It is easy to talk to them, whereas conversation with some women can be a strain.
The girls on my floor are all polite and nice. Very first week of college-ish. I cant wait to cultivate these relationships, becuase each one is so vibrant and strong and beautiful. Hoorah.
Life here is St. Louis is pretty rad. Were taking Wolof and History of Islam classes that are so so easy so far. Tomorrow we meet with Baydallaye to choose classes. My daily schedule here: Wake up. Yoga on the basketball courts with a bunch of little kids watching and laughing and playing along, or run around the trail around the university. Breakfast of instant coffee in the Resto. Breakfast costs 15 cents and is a loaf of bread and coffee. No bread for me. Sweat. Wolof or Islam class. Lunch in the resto. Lunch costs 30 cents and is cebbu jen, rice and fish, or maffe or ¨rice and meat and some oily sauce¨ as they say and bread, always bread. Lay around. Sweat. Maybe go for a walk. Maybe go into town. Maybe use the computers. Maybe read. Class. Dinner at the resto if Im feeling it. Costs 30 cents and is the same as lunch. Ive been buying fruit instead, but fruit is pretty expensive, 50 cents for one piece. Sweat. Hang out with roomates. Make attayah tea. Chat. Take a shower when the water works. Sleep. Sweat.
Things will speed up, albeit slightly, when classes start.
We went downtown the other day, and its pretty sweet. Way way more chill than Dakar. The island is tiny, but theres a huge bright beach with cool huts and lots of fishermen. I havent found any good surf here yet, though. I bought some pots and pans for cooking, but Id like to get a hot plate, and I need a fan.
OKay, this is all for now. Happy birthday to mom, too. I love you lots!!