Thursday, May 4, 2017


Saturday morning we left Nioro du Rip at 8am to head back to Dakar and meet up with the rest of the team. We said our farewells and words of gratitude to our host teacher, Papa Amadou Seck before making the 4-hour drive to Dakar. Nan and I definitely had an unforgettable experience in Nioro. We learned to let go and do without a lot of the comforts we are used to. We learned about the education system of Senegal, in addition to Senegalese culture. We also learned to never take certain things for granted. So, for my last Senegal blog post here are two lists we made as a reflection on both:

Things We Are Grateful For:
1. Our partnership: Nan and I got along immediately when we met each other in Washington DC. We are so lucky and blessed that we were paired up together. We had more belly laughs than I ever remember having. I know that Nan will always be a close friend - and I have TGC to thank for that.

2.  Our host teacher, Papa, and our host school: Papa did so much for us when we were in Nioro. He worked so hard to ensure that Nan and I were well taken care of, and had the best experiences. He also was quick to answer the many questions we had about life in Nioro.

3. Buckets of water: Yep. Buckets. We needed them and used them daily. We actually came to depend on them to collect water to save in case ours went out. 

4. Nose Hairs: they serve a purpose.

5. Fanta/Sprite: It was so hot on some days - we would try and find water in little stands, but it was often not refrigerated. We could almost always count on cold Fanta or Sprite... which tasted amazing on a hot day.

6. Nescafe: We had instant Nescafe coffee every morning (and sometimes at lunch) - much-needed caffeine.

7. Toilet Paper: Pretty self-explanatory. Good thing we each grabbed a roll from the hotel we stayed at in Dakar.

8. Malaria Pills/Vaccinations: I was eaten alive by mosquitos in Dakar (not Nioro). I must have had at least a dozen bites. I am so thankful for the meds I was taking. Thankfully, I didn't get sick once when I was in Senegal.

9. Days we had a flushing toilet. Yep. Sometimes it did - and sometimes it didn't.

10.   Waking up to running water in the morning - best sound ever!

11.   Wifi: Wifi really helped me feel and stay connected with family and friends back home. 

12.   Google Translate: I used this A LOT! I used it in museums and in conversation with people in Senegal since I don't speak French! It was amazing - and came in VERY handy.

13.   Smiles and kindness: Despite language barriers, smiles and kindness always go a long way. We once saw a man outside our hotel sitting on the steps with a bowl of rice and fish. We had never seen him before, and he had never seen us, I presume. He was quick to say "Come! Have a seat! Eat with me!" 

14.   Education: I am so thankful for education. I am thankful for our education system in the US and for the Senegalese education system willing to host the US teachers. I am grateful we live in a global society and are able to learn from one another and make connections around the world.

15.   My School District: I am so thankful for the support, love, concern and enthusiasm from my school district. Without it, this trip wouldn't have been possible. I am so thankful for the many texts, emails, notes, gifts and words of support from the many people I work with. It's an incredible feeling to feel loved and supported in your profession.

Things We Will Never Take For Granted:
1. Toilets. Real toilets. Everything about toilets, especially when they flush and have seats. Nan went an entire week without a toilet seat! LOL

2. Running water/potable water. Water is GOLD. We need to do everything in our power to conserve this precious resource.

3. Shower curtains: Nan and I went a week without a shower curtain. It's definitely a strange feeling and makes quite the watery mess on the bathroom tile floor.

4. Hair dryers: I blew mine up the first day I was in Senegal. 

5. Towels: The first day I was in Nioro I had to make a run to the market to see if they had towels. IN retrospect, I should have packed a towel and a washcloth - not just wipes.

6. Sheets: Although we had fitted sheets, we didn't have a top sheet or a blanket. I hope I'm not alone in feeling "safer" and more "secure" with a blanket on... even if it's 100 degrees outside, I still prefer a blanket or sheet. Probably should add good pillows to this list, too.

7. Lighting: Good lighting. Lightning that really goes on and stays on, and is bright. Add to this list - power/electricity in general. When the power goes out, so does everything else - including wifi and fans. It gets hot super quick and is stifling. 

8. Outlets: Outlets were definitely sparse... we had one in our entire room and bathroom in Nioro. 

9. Beds that don’t break when you roll over: Yep. Just ask Nan about this one. 

10.   Garbage cans/sanitation: Garbage cans were few and far between. I am so thankful that we have a system for garbage and recycling. The environment is another precious resource that we need to take care of...

11.   Fans/AC: Much needed in 104+ weather

12.   Refrigeration: Most people/places do not have refrigeration. I have always just taken for granted that I can get up and go to my fridge anytime I need/want. That isn't the case with many people. We can save food, keep drinks cold. It's a luxury and a blessing.

13.   Shoes: Walking in hot sand can be brutal on feet - and I was so glad to have shoes that fit well. It was sad to see lots of children barefoot or with shoes that were too small on their little feet. I can only imagine how hot the sand must have been.

14.   Women's rights: Women's agency and power is a vital part of our society... and for that I am grateful. #GirlPower #LikeAGirl

15.   Fruits and veggies: I will never take for granted the ample choices we have of fresh fruits and veggies available to us (especially here in California).

16.   Abundance and choice: There were many things that had an impact on me when I was in Senegal, and will forever change me. Two words that stick out to me are ABUNDANCE and CHOICE. I will never ever take for granted the vast amount of choices we have in the United States. Do you want to go to Starbucks or Coffee Bean? Do you want to eat fast food or sit down? Do you want Italian food or Mexican? Do you want to drive or take a bus/taxi/uber? We don't realize the number of choices we make on a daily basis. Not everyone has the luxury of making so many choices. We are spoiled in the amount of extreme customization we make with foods and drinks (I'm definitely guilty of this myself). When you have no choices for food or drinks and are hungry and thirsty - you are grateful for anything. The same goes with the word "abundance." We have so much excess here in the States. We often think we have "no resources" or "not enough." Trust me when I say, we have enough. We have plenty. We probably have TOO much. We have so much to be thankful for, and so little to complain about. We have abundance and choice.

I am eternally grateful for the experiences I had in Senegal, specifically in Nioro. I am grateful for the amazing friend I have found in my partner, Nan, and for the friendships I have made with educators around the globe in Senegal. I hope these connections and relationships last and continue to grow. I am working on setting up some kind of partnership project with an elementary school in Nioro and with the town library. I will definitely be posting about that as it develops. For now, thank you to everyone who checked my photos on Facebook, sent texts of encouragement, and took the time to read this blog. Thank you for coming along with me on my journey to Senegal. It's only the beginning of wonderful things to come.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Visit to a Primary Elementary School

Friday (4/28) was our last full day in Nioro. We had the pleasure of visiting a private elementary school called Complexe Scolaire Adja Penda Ba. This elementary school’s founder is a Senegalese woman who lives in Washington, DC. We immediately saw differences between the public and private elementary schools in Nioro. The private school had much smaller class sizes and had more resources. Class size ranged from 10-25, which is a stark contrast from what we saw in the public school. We saw children wearing “uniforms” – which were green colored vests with the school name on the back. We saw colorful mural painted on the walls outside the school and inside the classrooms.

We also saw many toys, chalkboards, books and resources within classrooms. One thing that really stuck out was seating arrangements. The same bench desks that we have seen at every school were formed into groups in every classroom we saw. Teachers did not solely lecture. The lessons involved student response, pair share, group work and individual work. While the administrators were male, we noticed all of the teachers were women. We observed a third-grade problem-solving math lesson. The lesson was about a real world problem involving buying beans at the market and having a certain amount of money to buy a certain amount of food. The problem was complex and multi-step. The teacher was very methodical about breaking down the problem and asked kids what other questions they would have to solve in order to answer the final question. I really enjoyed being in her classroom and watching the students collaborate and learn together.

After our morning spent at the primary school, we returned to the high school to say our final farewells. We were fortunate to see a Senegalese lunch lady selling beignets and Café Touba right outside the school. For $0.25 USD, we purchased 4 beignets and a Café Touba. You can read about Café Touba by clicking here. After eating our snack, we met with the administrator who was kind enough to buy us wooden gifts as a memento of our time in Nioro. Our debrief conversation with him was refreshing and optimistic about the importance of creating global connections and teaching global citizenship. 

Field Trip to Sine Ngayene (Thursday 4/27)

On Thursday (4/27), Nan and I wanted to do something to give back to the school and our host teacher in Nioro. We both believe in experiential and hands-on learning and wanted to share that with the students in Nioro. We paid for a bus and a tour guide to take 65 students on a field trip to a local pre-historic site called Sine Ngayene. I was immediately struck by the many differences between taking students in the US on a field trip vs taking students in Nioro on a field trip. There were no notes, letters or phone calls made home. There were no permission slips collected. No epi pens or first aide boxes were carried on the bus. It wasn’t even one certain class that joined us. A bus showed up at the school and 65 students got on. That was it. There wasn’t a head count taken, or a list made of students we had on the bus. We simply filled up the bus and headed to Sine Ngayene. Sine Ngayene is located about an hour away from Nioro and most of the students hadn’t ever been there before. The weather was very nice at the pre-historic site, breezy and not too hot – and we all enjoyed listening to the tour guide and learning about Sine Ngayene. You can learn more information by clicking here.

There were two things in particular that stood out to me, other than the actual amazing field trip (which, incidentally, reminded me a little of Stonehenge). The first was a village that we walked through from the first Sine Ngayene location to the second area where they found and transported the stones from. While walking from one place to the next (probably a mile away), we walked through a village. We saw bones of dead animals (later, I would find out it was a horse), elaborate fences made from twigs, and children running from their huts to greet us. One group of boys, in particular, seemed to follow our little tour and hung out while our tour guide shared about the area. They seemed to be between 5-10 years old. One of them was carrying a rake, a few were barefoot and one, in particular, stood out to me. He kept eyeing me during the tour guides speech. I made my way over to them and gave them all some American gum (always a big hit with children in Senegal). The boy who was eyeing me was wearing a white t-shirt, now brown from the sand and dirt – and the saying on the front read “Life is good.” Whether or not he understood what his shirt said, I knew.

And in that moment, I realized the huge disparity of the excess we have in the United States and how still so many people do not feel like “life is good.” So many people have so much less here in Senegal and seem happier with their lives overall and content with what little they do have. They value family, togetherness, friendship and time well-spent with people. Life in Senegal isn’t hurried or rushed. Value isn’t placed so much on the efficiency of time (as we do in the US), but rather how that time is spent. Is it spent greeting elders on the street? Or a neighbor or cousin you see walking by? Then it is time well-spent, even if it means you are “late” to some other task. People in Senegal tend not to text. It is impersonal. Time is better spent picking up the phone and calling someone as you can talk and catch up to see how they are, without the impersonal plight of texting. Life is good. In that moment, on that dirt road in Nioro du Rip wearing that white-now-brown shirt, smile on his face – I will always remember the dichotomy of the harsh reality of village life and the “life is good” reminder displayed on his chest.

The second thing that will always stick with me from that field trip involved an adorable little girl. When we first got off the bus, many village children ran to see what/who was inside the bus that pulled up the dirt road. Tons of children crowded around but there was one sweet little girl who kept trying to touch our hands. She had the biggest smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. She was adorable. She looked to be about 4 years old. We didn’t know what she was saying because she was speaking in Wolof. When we returned from the walking portion of the trip to head back to the bus, she was still there and quickly found us again – saying the same words. She smiled, grabbed our hands and kept trying to talk to us. While many village children will do that, they usually stick out their hands for coins or money. This wasn’t the case with her. She didn’t seem to be begging for money. On the bus on the way back home, we later found out that she was begging for water. It broke our hearts. We didn’t know she was asking for water until we were on the bus on the way home. There were so many village children that rushed to our bus – and so many were talking and pulling at our hands that we weren’t quite sure what any of them were saying. Hearing that all she wanted was water was certainly something that will always stick with me as well as the little boy with the “life is good” shirt on.

After our successful field trip, we headed to the Nioro public library. The elementary teacher whose class we observed yesterday, Mr. Ly, helps run and organize the library. It is located inside a place called “The Complex.” The Complex is a large building which also can be a place where people can get food downstairs. The library is upstairs in one room, run completely by volunteers. Mr. Ly was very proud of his library and showed us the types of books they have and discussed the special training he received to learn the Dewy Decimal system to be able to organize the books. He also showed us the library register where the volunteers write down the name of the book, name of the person checking out the book and some other facts to be able to track down the book if it doesn’t get returned.
Included in these facts are phone numbers and addresses in case they have to make home visits to collect missing books. We did ask if this happens and he was quick to say yes. When a book is missing and other attempts have failed to collect, they visit homes. They explain the books do not belong to the child personally but rather the community and they need to be returned. There are 4-5 adults who help volunteer to keep the library open, which also can serve as a homework area for children after school. There are also students who come in and help shelve the books as junior volunteers. While there are many people (adults and children) who wish to use the library, resources are limited. There are limited books, limited tables and limited chairs. I love how community members give back and volunteer to keep it open for the benefit of Nioro du Rip.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Teaching in a Senegalese High School (Weds 4/26)

Wednesday was a very busy day for us. Tuesday night, while blogging, my computer ran out of battery. I was unable to charge the battery while in Nioro and by the time I got back to Dakar was super tired and thus, was unable to blog. I am writing this on the airplane back home and will try and update my blog when I get home. Sorry for the delay, as I have gotten many messages from those of you who have read and were following the blog when I posted.

On Wednesday (4/24), we spent the morning at the high school for two lessons we were teaching. Nan and I taught an 11th grade science lesson, to approximately 46 students (which, incidentally, was considered a very small class size). When we walked into the classroom, we first noticed the vast number of students. Students sit on benches that fit 2-3 students per bench. Rows and rows of benches faced forward, and we knew we had to first change the seating arrangement. While students moved desks into groups, our host teacher put students into groups of four or five. Our lesson was the didn’t quite know what to make of the yarn. We saw many students immediately take out their notebooks and draw meticulous sketches of what they thought the tower should look like. It took a little bit of warming up, but soon students were collaborating, discussing, sketching together and helping each other construct. We were surprised to see many students take out razor blades to cut the yarn and tape. At their school, they don’t have scissors – so everyone uses a small razor blade (even to sharpen their pencils). I have to admit that my favorite moment was when the first group got finished and wanted to test their marshmallow on the very top.students face was something I will never forget, and the looks of satisfaction, pride and enthusiasm was definitely evident. That lesson was certainly a highlight of our trip in Nioro.
I happened to video tape the group testing it – and the group erupted in cheers and clapping when their structure held the marshmallow. The look of joy on the
marshmallow challenge, which is an engineering STEM challenge. We had an hour to complete the lesson. Students got 20 sticks of dry spaghetti, yarn, tape and one marshmallow. The goal was for the group to construct the tallest free-standing tower that would support the weight of one marshmallow. At first, we could see the look of confusion in their eyes. The science teacher started to come to the board
and draw in chalk a sample of a structure and Nan and I quickly had to tell him that the discussion would come AFTER the students had time to explore. He wanted to rush and tell the students what would be the strongest structure and we wanted students to explore. We soon found out that students didn’t have experience with masking tape, yarn or marshmallows. Students didn’t know they could rip the tape and instead used razor blades to cut it.

Immediately after our marshmallow challenge STEM lesson, Nan and I rushed over to teach a 10th grade language arts lesson with Papa’s students. Since the teachers move classrooms, not the students, we gathered our belongings and rushed downstairs to our next class. Have I mentioned before, the school had a three story building!? During our lesson, our plan was to make global post cards and we delivered them to the students at the high school. While we originally thought maybe we could make the connection between elementary schools, most students/teachers in the elementary schools don’t know English. They are busy learning French, which is the lingua franca of Senegal (in addition to the Wolof or Pulaar or Sere they speak in the home at their mother tongue). Our language arts class had 77 students, and it was pretty full. While high school lessons are typically delivered via lecture, Nan and I decided to teach a mini lesson on sentence structure and letter format. We also delivered colored pencils (which, we came to learn, was an extremely hot commodity). In fact, when we gave coloring books to Papa’s children in his home, we used their own colored pencils, and it was difficult to even write with them. All the high school students wanted colored pencils to draw on the letters and we felt bad that we didn’t have enough for all of them. I know, speaking personally, I didn’t realize that class size could be 75-100 (or, in some rural areas, even MORE!). The students were happy to read the letters from our American students and wrote notes back. My students also signed a book called “G is For Golden: A Picture Alphabet Book of California” yearbook style for the language arts class. In return, I had them sign a book called “Doors of Senegal” for the elementary school I will take the letters to when I return home. It was interesting to learn about the types of sports, foods and music the Senegalese students like. They also enjoyed seeing photos of students they were writing letters and post cards to.
As I mentioned, it was a very busy day. Immediately after that lesson, we got a ride from the principal over to a local public primary school called Ecole Elementaire Saer Maty Ba. Papa’s good friend, Mr. Ly, works as a teacher in that school and we were able to observe him teach his class of 50+ students. Mr. Ly had a great lesson prepared on combustibles and liquid/solids/gasses. I immediately noticed that his classroom was set up differently than any we had seen before. He had a chalkboard in the front, like all the others, however, he also had a white painted wall, which was to project his computer up on the wall. His was the first classroom that we saw technology being integrated into the lesson. His lesson was also different – as it wasn’t just lecture. His lesson included realia, hands-on activities and group work. Students had mini chalkboards and would use them to share answers like we use individual whiteboards in our classrooms. Funny side note, while we were on a recess break, we saw children crowding around near the flag pole. We weren’t sure quite what was happening – but there were lots of children with sticks and an adult
running up who also had a large stick. We quickly saw that the children had killed a snake. When we asked our host teacher about the snake, he said it “wasn’t THAT venomous” and that they often had snakes in the area due to a local field/wet area nearby the school.

After our time at the elementary school, we had lunch with two of the elementary school teachers before heading back home to rest and change clothes. That evening, our host teacher and the elementary school held a Sabar in honor of Nan and I being in Nioro. A Sabar is a traditional gathering where African drums are played and people dance. I am always amazed at the African drummers – they are so talented and full of energy. The elementary school hosted the Sabar and I would guess that about 600+ adults and children showed up to join the party. We wore our traditional clothing and enjoyed the night outside watching children and adults dance as we listened to the African drums.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Methods of Transportation in Senegal

There are many methods of transportation in Senegal. Having spent a few days in Dakar and also having experience life in Nioro, there are many differences between the urban and rural areas. There are paved roads and many cars in big cities like Dakar. People travel in cars, like we have in the US. In smaller areas, like Nioro du Rip, there aren't many paved roads, most are dirt roads. Some means of transportation are not as readily available. 

I have noticed that there are some optional things when driving, such a lanes and stop signs. People don't really follow either. Stop signs seem to be optional, and people tend to decide whether or not to stop if there are other cars around or not. We did happen to see a traffic light in Dakar, and people were following those traffic rules. Not many roads have lanes painted to keep cars in their own lane. In fact, I don't think I have seen any lanes at all! People use their horns A LOT. That horn can mean many different things. 

Beep beep - I'm changing lanes.
Beep beep - I'm here in this lane, stay on your side.
Beep beep - I'm going to pass you on the left.
Beep beep - Don't even think about coming into my lane. 
Beep beep - Get out of the road, Donkey (or goat or sheep)
Beep beep - (to pedestrians) Be careful, I'm driving right beside you.
Beep beep - (to a motorbike) I'm here, and I see you.
Beep beep - MOVE!
Beep beep - Coming through, please be aware.

There are many things a honked horn can mean. It is basically meant for awareness, not to be rude at all. It is a lot safer that a car honks when it's around the corner to avoid hitting someone or someone hitting the car. 

In bigger cities, you can have busses called "Car Rapide" like this:

You can also have taxis like this:

There are other busses called "Dakar Dem Dikk" that are like city buses - but we haven't seen any of those yet.

There is also a modern bus called "Car Tata" that is very much like a city bus.

In Nioro I have seen busses called "Car Ndiaga Ndiaye" where many people pile inside the bus or grab on bars outside the bus to travel to a different location. They are often crowded and pick up people along the side of the road at depots.

Some people, especially students, may get here and there by riding a bike.

There is even a form of transportation they call "Sept Place" - which means seven seats. However, locals call them "Sept Place, Sept Mort" - which means seven seats, seven dead. This mode of transportation is seen as very dangerous and not reliable at all.

Today is the market in Nioro. We have seen many people traveling by donkey or horse cart. The carts don't travel very fast, but it allows them to carry larger loads than walking or taking a bike or a motorbike. 

Probably the most popular method of transport in Nioro (other than walking) is called a "Djakarta" or motorbike. Not only do people own them and use them personally, they are also for hire. We have seen parents picking their children up at school and taking them home on djakartas. One father was carrying three children on his. He had one child seated in front of him and two behind him. I have seen mothers carrying their babies strapped on their backs while also riding on a djakarta. Motorbikes are very popular and an efficient means of transportation. Not many people own cars in Nioro. Very few. The roads do not lend themselves to cars many times, and motorbikes can be just as efficient.

Reflections on Lesson Observations

Today we spent more time at the high school watching lessons being taught in Spanish and English (EFL - English as a Foreign Language). It has been interesting to watch lessons being taught not only abroad, but also in high school - since I have always been an elementary educator. As I have mentioned before, in Senegal, students stay put in one classroom and it is the teacher who roams to teach. Our host teacher, Papa, has arranged for us to observe lessons in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in addition to Spanish and Physical Education. We will also be observing and teaching at a public primary school and a private primary school. We had an opportunity to teach the high school English Club as well.

For the English Club, students gather weekly often 1-2 hours at a time in the evening. I have come to learn that not much is planned between the hours of 1-5pm. Lunch is often at later in the day - like 1 or 2pm. People rest in the afternoon, or don't do much because of the heat. Dinner is also later, much later. Dinner is usually 8 or 9 or 10pm. So after the afternoon break, around 5pm, students may go back to school for another class. After THAT class, they go home, do homework, or play soccer. Soccer is very popular with the boys. Girls may have to go home and help with the household chores. The girls also like to practice dance. The English Club offers extra opportunities for students to learn English and practice oral speaking skills. The students we visited had memorized English poems and skits and were happy to perform them for us. They did well speaking in front of a crowd (especially with two native speakers in the audience!)

Today, our first lesson observation was in a 12th grade EFL class. The lesson was about reported speech. It included verb tense, type of sentence and how to change between declarative and reported speech. For example, if the teacher wrote:

"Shut the door," Dad said.

Students would have to identify the type of sentence and change it to reported speech.

Dad told me to shut the door.

There is a lot going on in those sentences in terms of knowledge. Students have to know the different verb tenses, in addition to verb agreement. Students also seemed to know correct spelling for the sentences being written on the board. The particular lesson we
watched was two hours long with no breaks in between. The first part of the lesson was direct instruction/lecture. Students sat quietly - despite the background noise of donkeys, goats, other students walking to and from class, and shuffling flip flops on the tile floor. Students were attentively listening to the lesson. One thing I have noticed is that students snap their fingers as their raise their hands, and say, "Sir! Sir! Sir! Sir!" until somebody is called upon. Children do not just raise a hand and wait. There is always snapping of the fingers as they raise their hands. It makes a nice little chorus as students volunteer for an answer. I have also noticed that during instruction, teachers often say PART of the word, and the students will join them for the REST of the word. This has happened in every class we have been in so far. For example, a teacher may ask, "What part of speech is that students? It is a pro-pro-pro-pro....." and then everyone collectively says "pronoun." While it may seem that it's like giving a hint, I don't believe it is. Teachers will also say it in the course of the lecture, I believe it is to engage students and be sure they are paying attention. For example, today in Spanish class, we learned about the government in Spain. The teacher would be giving the lecture and may say "in the Spanish gov-gov-gov GOVERNMENT there were five leaders." The students would respond with the word "government" to finish his word, but he would carry on with the lecture. This happened frequently. Students also participated by writing answers on the chalkboard when called upon.

The two-hour lesson flow began with direct instruction/lecture. During this time, students were NOT taking notes, they were listening. The teacher wrote on the board, gave examples, engaged the class and called on students. The students listened and paid attention. During the second part of the lesson, students got out their journals and took meticulous notes. I noticed they were very neat in writing and most of them used a ruler and multiple colors of pens to distinguish areas of their notes. The teacher also did this - but with colored chalk. During the second part of the lesson, the teacher wrote the definition on what they were learning on the chalkboard along with several exercises. We would call this the "guided instruction" part of the lesson. The students were allowed to ask their table mate if they did not understand the concept - but I heard a few students directly say to the teacher, "I do not understand." I love that students feel empowered to be able to advocate for themselves and say when they do not understand. The teacher would repeat, or clarify when needed. After giving students time to write everything down off the board, students would answer the problems and the teacher would then go over them one by one. When going over individual problems, the teacher would call students to the board to write down their answer. There were MANY times when students came to the board to write. MANY.

I noticed that students are VERY respectful to their teacher. When the teacher enters the room, students stand. The teacher greets the students, and the students respond chorally. In all of the lessons we observed, students responded politely and were very courteous. The teachers in Nioro follow their students. Meaning, if a teacher has an English class in 10th grade, the teacher will also be their teacher in 11th grade and 12th grade. In the US, some call this "looping." The teachers and students were very welcoming to us in their classrooms. They greeted us kindly and one class kept clapping for us when we were there. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have spent time in classrooms today. This evening, we will experience the Nioro Tuesday Market. We will also be taking a horse cart ride! Tomorrow, we get to visit a primary school. Our water was out for the last two days, and we finally got water today! I am so thankful to be able to have a shower and fill up my reserve bucket. Water is so important, it's like GOLD.

Monday, April 24, 2017

More Things I've Learned

Here's another quick list of more things I have learned while being on this journey (so far):

1. Who needs hair dryers?

2. Diet coke? Schm-iet Coke.

3. I drink coffee with breakfast (I prefer cappuccinos, but coffee will work)

4. I now understand the importance/meaning of feet washing (like in Biblical times) from first-hand experience

5. I actually don't mind sleeping inside a mosquito net. Mosquito nets are necessary.

6. Water is like GOLD. And I mean - GOLD. We have had difficulty finding bottled water while in Nioro, and our inn has not had water for 24 hours (at the time of this writing). Our reserve bucket of water is empty. It is SOOOOOO important to have water. For everything.

7. I am so thankful for hand wipes.

8. Thank goodness for dry shampoo.

9. I used to be a knife and fork only kind of girl (and definitely no bones) - that has changed. I think every meal I ate yesterday was with my hands.

10. Smiling means the same in any language.

11. It has been such a beautiful thing to watch children who were scared of me come to like me

12. The Senegalese take much more time on relationships/friendships than we do in the US. They don't text - they call. A trip to the market may take quite a while because you stop and chat to everyone along the way.

13. On the same note, when I shared pictures of my family with everyone - they were interested. Genuinely interested. Not flipping pages to get it done.

14. It is difficult to prepare meals. It is important for those meals to be enjoyed together with family and extended family.

15. Kids are "kids" no matter which country you're in. Teenagers act very similarly here and there.

16. Teachers are also very similar in Senegal and the US - as they all love their students and want them to learn and grow into respectful, responsible, productive adults

And - one very important one -

17. Thank goodness I love love love my partner, Nan and our host teacher Papa! We can laugh and have a great time while sharing in this journey together. <3