Pulaar and more Pulaar

Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
Trip End Apr 01, 2007

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, April 23, 2005

I've just finished week five of training here in Thies. This has been the hardest week by far. I had over 35 hours of training in language and reached the 100 hour mark. Only 20 more hours of language left to go.  Next monday I find out where I will be placed for the next two years. Even though I have a very good idea of the location things are constantly changing here so I havent let my mind get wrapped around one city. It will be SOUTH though, which means the ability to grow my own bananas and avacado! 

A little information about the language I'm learning:
Pulaar is a very difficult language to grasp. Today for example, I learned the verb that means 'to say something about someone else when they are not present' (wa ade).  There is also a verb for 'to pick something out of the garden with your hands'.  I havent learned it yet but there is also a verb for thinking of something while you are eating, and when you think of it you have to say : 'ive just thought of something, and im eating'...and then continue with the thought.  Its fun, but also exhausting to try to improve my vocabulary.

We lost our first trainee this past week. She was a very nice woman, and it was tough because many of us did not get to say goodbye. I think they try and keep ETs (early terminations) a little hush hush so that other trainees dont get frustrated or upset and start to consider their own commitment. 

I have been struggling a little with the way I am treated as a white person in this culture. In the morning I have started to run to the center.  It is approximately a 2.5 mile run.  I am accosted by ten or twelve Talibe in the same location every morning.  For those of you not familiar with Talibe, they are young boys who have been taken in at a Koranic school to learn from a Maribou, but can not be fully provided for.  They are sent to beg for food and tuition every day generally before their lessons begin.  The system is sometimes corrupt because there are some people who start a school for the sake of getting young children to beg for them and then they take the profits for themselves.  There are also Maribou who are trying to provide a valuable education for the youth in their area. These kids can spot a toubab/toubako from distances you wouldnt imagine possible. Even at a run I have them following me asking for money and grabbing at my clothes and bag. they generally dont make me feel threatened because they are only children, but the fact that I cant walk anywhere without similar attention is pretty wild.

For all of you that have sent packages or letters, again..thank you!  I've been the envy of many a volunteer over the past month or so.
I plan on trying to update again soon!
With love,
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