A Gambian Halloween

Just kidding… Halloween isn’t a thing here. But people do love to get dressed up and dance around, so it’s kind of the same thing. A week or so ago, our training village held a Gente for us, or a Naming Ceremony. This usually happens 7 days after the birth of a child, with music and dancing and well wishes for the baby, but for us they made an exception. In an attempt to curb the “Toubab!” (People from the white land) yells around town, we received Gambian names – Ali la tuda (Ali is my name), Secka la santa (Secka is my surname). There was food, dancing, awesome outfits, dramatic skits, and lots of new friends. The Governor of the Lower River Region even attended! 

An important aspect of every Gente is the gift of kolanuts. I think they taste like a tree, but they are culturally valued and extremely important for visitors to the town and for naming ceremonies. 

Normal PST (Pre-Service Training) days are not as crazy. We have been doing a lot of language learning and applying new language skills around town and with our host families. We have also been learning some Health and Agricultural technical skills, and have planted a nursery garden bed of vegetables and have built “Tippy-Taps” hand washing stations for our host families. Most importantly, I’ve been learning how to brew “Attaya,” the “tea of conversation” here in The Gambia. 

Some other small successes:

1. Biked almost 30K on the “highway” to get back and forth from skills training. We also biked to the Senegalese border!

2. Had a broken conversation in Wolof about dancing, and then proceeded to dance for my host family.

3. Washed my clothes (twice!) with some help from my host sister (that includes my towel and sheets, Mom). My host family asked me to dance while while washing them – successful multitasking.

4. Carried a chicken from my compound to the market (Okay, I carried it down the street and then had to hand it off to someone else). Then bought a few potatoes with my newfound Wolof.

5. Have had several successful trips to the pit latrine.

This week we’ll find out our permanent sites, where we’ll be placed for 2 years starting in December! 

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