The Day, it Walks

Sunday, May 9, 2010

           I know it has been a while since I posted last, but being in Pre Service Training is kind of like going to a very intense Summer camp…you have a hard time keeping track of time. Every day is so full of information that 3 or 4 days go by without even realizing it, other than the feeling of sleep deprivation. Here is a look at my typical host  village and technical training days to give you an idea:
6:00 am – Call to Prayer…this means loud loud yelling over a loudspeaker next to the mosque. The whole village wakes, including all the animals and myself.

7:15- I reluctantly get out of bed. (note that my family has been awake and sweeping/crying/praying since 5:30 or 6)

8:15- 9:15 Garden time. Watering, pulling weeds, bed maintenance, etc.

9:30- 1:30 Language class. We typically spend this time doing actual lessons on grammar, structure,  and pronunciation

1:30-2:30 Lunch with the family; typically I help my host mom finish the meal.

2:30- 4:00- This is reserved for “noppalu” (rest time). In the hot season, this is the hottest part of the day, and the inside of concrete compounds can reach 135 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, so actually sleeping is difficult. I usually do homework or listen to NPR podcasts.

4- 6:30/7 Language class/ Technically directed activities. This is typically discussion based class, either in my teachers compound or the community. Involves drinking lots of super sweet shots of tea and usually eating beignets.

7:00-9 Gardening again,  Shower time, help my mother cook dinner, hang with the family, play with kids, etc.

After 9:00 pm- Dinner occurs before 10 pm, well usually. This is when the television is brought out and the neighbors come over to chat/ watch terribly dubbed Spanish, Indian, French, and if I am luck American shows. My compound typically sleeps after about 11:00/11:30. Depending on the day of the week, my dad stays up and chants with the Mourides (religious leaders). I would say “sleep” is a loose definition of what I do before my day begins again.

As you can see, the day is LONG, and remember that during hot season it is upwards of 120 outside, and that I am consuming ¼ of the food I usually eat at home, thank god for vitamins! The last few months before rainy season are also called “starving season” because money, agriculture, and food supplies in general run low, this means meals get smaller and less nutritious. For lunch, the big meal of the day, this means  spicy tomato rice, 2 or 3 small fish, and maybe 1 or 2 heart vegetables like cabbage, carrot, or sweet potato. This is shared with 5-9 people. Dinner is usually plain rice with an MSG cube and oil, a handful  of cowpeas, and if we are lucky, half of a dried fish, shared between 9-12 people. So you can understand why people here feel so tired during the day. I try to supplement my diet by eating fish beignets, and fingering peanut butter into my mouth at any possible moment. On holidays and at the beginning of each month we typically eat larger meals or have “snacks” like bean sandwiches or millet with milk.

While life in the training villages is rough, it’s a good preparation for what we could face in our villages/towns for 2 years. Life at the center is much different; but has it’s own challenges.  My days at the training center usually follow the following schedule:

6:00 Call to prayer

7:30-8:00 Breakfast, shower, avoiding mosquitoes

8:15-12:30 Technical trainings (nutrition, medical, gardening, etc.)

12:45-2:30 Lunch/rest time/ errand time

2:30- 5ish Cultural trainings, language lessons, medical consults, etc.

5:30-7:30 “Down” time…basically everyone showers again, plays volleyball, and goes into town to buy things or have a beer before dinner. Internet usage during this period is highly prized.

7:30-9 Dinner. The kitchen staff tries to make us American comfort foods like pizza and spaghetti, and we ALWAYS have salad, a nice treat. Note: my intake of sketchy meat has increased significantly since living here, since I live in a life of feast or famine, I take what I can get when I can get it, my intestinal tract pays the price.

After 9:00 This is when we partake in typical activities that people in their 20’s partake in; going to the bar dominates here but it also includes gossiping, dancing, lots of laughing, posting on our blogs, and playing Mafia.

By 3 am Most people are in bed.

I liken training center schedule to that of a college campus. There are between 40 and 50 under 30’s in a concentrated area for days at a time, and general debauchery ensues. While we tend to be out to all hours, we still maintain a relatively professional sense of focus and alertness during our “learning hours”.
So that’s it! My life for the last 2 months in a nutshell…please read the above posts for more info about my specific activities and more pictures!


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