Pictures from Senegal

Tuesday, October 20

Starting Over; Mboro Again

Installing was simultaneously uneventful and tiring. I haven't used French in a week, which didn't help. We started by parading Christine around Tivaouane. The prefere (regional capital), the gendarmarie (state police), the offices of her counter parts... and lastly dropping her and all possessions off at her new residence. After a short ride, we arrived in Mboro. For so many others arrival was a source of extreme anxiety, but not me. I'm already familiar with Mboro. I directed my program director and our Senegalese driver to the mayor's office. I had already met my family, my coworkers, my town, and my town's history.

The point when I briefly explained my knowledge of a few neighborhoods' beginnings was when I realized I wasn't scared of installing. I was scared that I had already completed the required activities of other Volunteer's first few weeks at site. And at that point I thought, well then what do I do now?

I'd like to walk into the Mayor's office tomorrow morning and acquire an office. Set up shop. And start building a game plan.

However, the pace of the Senegalese is different. While I may know the town and a few of its treasured inhabitants, the town doesn't really know me. My job is to put myself out there. Simply coming and going and conducting a few transactions within the town is not sufficient. Now is the time for me to sit down with every other person and have a conversation about life, work, and culture. A trust must be gained. Where one in the US needs only to state their intentions and ability in order to gain acceptance and cooperation, the people of Senegal are not so easily persuaded.

It is said that dating commences one year after having met a person, and in general most other relationships follow the same guidelines. You must know a person inside and out before proper trust is earned and important matters are divulged. But really, who can wait that long to be productive?

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