Since I’ve been back at site, I’ve had the pleasure of joining in a lot of projects. From now until June I’ll be busy with work and Urban Agriculture Summit, and I’ve started the planning process of many future projects; it’s really exciting!
First, in April, my counterpart and I will do a tree planting day at a local middle school on the island in Saint-Louis. This relationship was begun my ancien for a school beautification project in which the school purchased potted plants from the DRDR to create a nature inspired environment in the school. My counterpart and I spent the morning planting Moringa trees in a tree nursery and will transplant them next month. In April some teachers from the United States are coming to Senegal on an exchange program to learn about the school system here. During the week they are in Saint-Louis we will join forces with them plant trees with the environmental club at the middle school.
Second, my site mate and I put together a joint event for International Day of the Woman! We invited a Peace Corps staff member named Awa to come and speak at a 2 day event. The first day we went to an all girls school called Ameth Fall. It’s one of three left in the country. This school has a pre-existing relationship with the U.S. Embassy due to donations, and a fullbright scholar being placed there. Awa came and discussed with ~300 students why education is important, and why they should be even more empowered as women to finish their studies. It was a cool event where we celebrated the fact that we are women, and we should be rejoiced. The next day we went to a high school on the other side of town. We showed a documentary “He Named Me Malala,” where Malala fights for education rights for women. Once again, Awa had a discussion with the students about women empowerment and why it is important. It was so cool to be part of a celebration happening throughout the city.
Third, I got a call from a 3rd year volunteer working specifically with 4H. If you don’t know 4H, you might be surprised to know that it exists all over the world including in the United States. It’s an organization that encourages youth to have fun in a educational environment that enhances their curiosity to explore the topics they want. They have been established in Senegal for one year, and they are beginning their second year. Peace Corps Volunteers already work with the 3 clubs in Fatick Region, and this year they want to begin 6 clubs in Saint-Louis. 4H is funded in part by USAID and they hosted a conference for professionals to extend the 4H spirit, goals, and create a space where they could interact with each other. As PCVs we were invited to this conference as well. It was a 3 day conference hosted at the university in Saint-Louis. For 3 days we played American team building exercises, used American writing materials and paper, and spoke English with fellow Americans.
Lastly, I’ve begun visiting my other site mate’s village monthly. Her village is called Kalassane and is about 20 km away from me. It’s been so neat to see what village life is like. The pace is much slower, and it’s so peaceful! At her site, she has a master farm in which he has been labeled as a good farmer who provides knowledge and resources to the community. I’ve been asked to work with my site mate in improving the master farm. I can see the challenges for sure, but for now it’s all about building a strong foundation based on credibility and good relationships. Until later, we’ll explore our options about what kind of trainings and projects we want to implement.
All these things mark the beginning of a good service. I am excited to continue learning and growing. I have tried implementing my goals that I posted about last time, and the positivity has made me view my site and service in a more encouraging light. I am loving my site, and my time here. The work has been great, and the relationships I have made are growing, and the next year and a half are going to be crazy, but fun!