This is my third time writing this post. I really hope it works this time. I realized that I haven't fully explained what I'm doing here in Senegal. So here goes.
Two years ago, I volunteered with a tiny American-Senegalese NGO called Senecorps (www.senecorps.org). I taught at a crazy villege school (very challenging) and at a small private primary school (much easier). I really enjoyed the experience and became very close with my host (Mame Fatou), so I decided to return. This time around, I'm working more administratively for the director of Senecorps (who now resides in Dakar). The NGO has expanded slightly and is just finishing the construction of an education/technology center on the outskirts of Thies. It's pretty exciting to see the project coming along. I'm helping with hiring for the new center, some publicity and registration. For the past week, I've been writing hiring flyers and posting them at tech schools and at the University. I've noticed that being white and carrying an 'Offre d'Emploi' flyer makes you pretty popular. We're doing interviews this weekend, so I'm excited to see how that goes.
There isn't always that much to do for Senecorps, so I'm also helping out in English classes at a high school (College Bassirou Mbecke). There are already two Senecorps volunteers who have been here for a couple of months, so I mostly assist in their classes. The three of us are also in charge of the English Club. This is anywhere between 4 to 25 students who show up somewhere
between 4 and 6pm sometimes on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. The director of the school has recently enrolled our club in an English language theatre competition. So, the three of us Americans (who have little to no theatre experience) are directing a Senegalese English-language play during the casual hours of English Club. A typical practice includes thirty minutes of talking outside about who is missing and whether or not to replace them, then another fifteen or twenty of waiting for one student to get the props (3 chairs, 1 cup and a broom), and two or three run-throughs of the script. We spend a lot of time herding the students into the classroom, working on pronunciation and trying to stop the from laughing at each others' poor pronunciation (while we hold scripts over our faces and laugh).
The theater competition is next weekend (May 2nd) and we have no idea what the other sketches will be like. It's pretty challenging to direct this play and get these kids to memorize bizarre sounding words, but its fun to hang out with them in a more casual setting than the classroom.