Good morning, it’s Day 2 in Senegal.
I was up early yesterday and walked to school with our host Eric and Matt. I fed the local stray dog, winded our way through dark, pot-holed streets to International School for the 1st day of student sessions. I worked out in the fitness center and then had my 1st of several showers, then got set up in gym. We met several of the 75 students as they entered the gym. They were from a number of different places: Gambia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Toronto, Miami, New Hampshire, Bolivia, Tokyo. It was like meeting the junior version of the United Nations assembly.
The students were friendly and many were highly intelligent. They flashed smiles like I had never seen before. We felt very welcomed by them; they were more than willing to engage with us one-on-one.
The morning session went great (a lot of engagement). We guided them through Living Above The Line (ATL) and had them create their own Invitations. We followed ATL with Building Positive Culture. The afternoon session was a bit more challenging (attention span after lunch, the heat & humidity became oppressive…several teachers informed us that this was the hottest day they could recall in Dakar). The AC tried its best, but was over matched by the 3pm end time.
I learned more from the students than they learned from me. Being immersed in this very foreign culture is a quick, laser-sharp lesson in true diversity.
One of the highlights of the day was sitting in Eric’s physical education office afterward and meeting his staff. Hazel from Dublin, Ireland…Steven from Toronto… Goshee from Dakar. Goshee gave us a quick lesson in Sengalese Muslim culture: it’s a live-and-let-live approach compared to more traditional Muslims. There is still prayer five times a day, we hear it in the mornings (530am) over the loud speakers throughout the community we are living in.
Then there are the security guards, the maintenance workers, and the kitchen staff. These people work long, long hours for low pay, but seem quite content that they are employed in any fashion. They are quick to greet us (and I mean 100% of the time) with a French or Wolof version of “good morning.”
Last night we traversed the Dakar traffic (yes, many still-living goats along the roads… they are all for sale for the Muslim feast of Tabaski next Monday) and found a relatively upscale bar/restaurant called Redstone for dinner with Eric & his wife Jody. Service was what the locals referred to as “African-paced,” we were pretty hungry by the time dinner appeared. A storm blew through overnight and cooled things down temporarily.
Learning and learning and learning,…that’s what I am experiencing. I hope the students are too.